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1935: Bulgarian National Radio - the beginning

The Rodno Radio building in Benkovski St. where the first broadcasts started (left) and a later building in Moskovska St. (right).

“Good evening, dear listeners,” these words have been on the air in this country for almost 80 years. And throughout these years the Bulgarian National Radio has invariably been part of the country’s political and public life, a treasure trove of Bulgarian culture, a hub of the Bulgarian spirit and history.

In our feature 80 years in 80 weeks, Radio Bulgaria presents this national treasure – Bulgaria’s memory in sound, preserved in the BNR’s Golden Fund archives. We shall bring you archive recordings, bringing to life interesting events and facts, the voices of politicians, writers, poets, musicians, journalists, athletes who have made their mark in the life of the country. We shall hear recordings we have every right to be proud of, things that give food for thought, things we can now reassess in the light of the times gone by. And all this – to mark the 80th anniversary of the National Radio. It was created by force of a decree, issued by Tsar Boris III on January 25, 1935. The law was enforced after prolonged parliamentary debates, calling on the authorities to “create Bulgarian broadcasting”. “We listen to music from radio Belgrade, Istanbul and Bucharest, but nothing has been done to popularize Bulgarian ideas and songs,” said MP Dobry Daskalov in the National Assembly in 1930. And added: “I feel sure that if we had a broadcasting station here, our speeches would be heard immediately and we, as members of parliament, would feel ashamed and would not make mistakes or do anything foolish.”

By the middle of that same year the first broadcasting attempt was made using the Sofia radiotelegraph station. The broadcast was heard in Bourgas on the Black Sea. However, practice showed that long-wave broadcasting was not effective for the country, So, Transport Minister Petko Staynov appointed a commission to design and build a powerful station. In 1934, the Council of Ministers authorized a loan from the Savings Bank for obtaining a powerful transmitter. By force of the January 1935 decree, an official state radio was created; its name was Rodno Radio (Homeland Radio).

But it has its prehistory, written by the Bulgarian amateur radio enthusiasts, who set up a union called Rodno Radio. They first started broadcasting in 1930 – news, lectures, music from records, but also live performances. As journalist Hristo Bruzitsov put it: “The radio programme was naïve but the result was candid, natural and from the heart.”

Prof. Assen Marinov – head of the technical service of the state radio from 1936 until 1952 goes back to the beginning of radio broadcasting in Bulgaria and the creation of state radio. The recording was made to mark the 50th anniversary of the National Radio and is part of the Golden Fund sound archives:

“The sound of Bulgarian speech and music on the radio 50 years ago reached other countries and was given coverage by the media abroad. We received many moving letters from Bulgarians living abroad. In its issue # 9 in 1932, the German Radiowelt magazine carried an article Homeland Radio featuring information about its origins and four photographs: of the board of the Rodno Radio union, of the first transmitter in Benkovski St., of radio announcer Lina Shopova and of the technical staff of the transmitter. In 1933 Turgut Mithad wrote an article about Rodno Radio in the Turkish newspaper Milliyet. Newspapers in Germany, Greece and Italy as well as radio magazines also wrote about it. Due to the enormous amount of interest the state displayed in radio and everything connected with broadcasting, all differences of opinion between the two groups of amateur radio enthusiasts – from the Rodno Radio union and from the Bulgarian radio-union were obliterated. The two unions merged on August 8, 1934. The Rodno Radio broadcasts continued until the beginning of 1935 when the decree on radio came out. Under article 1 of this decree, the Radio passed into the hands of the state which undertook to build transmitters and promote broadcasting in Bulgaria.”

English: Milena Daynova

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