SWR - a radio enthusiasts' dream

Through the decades radioamateurs and DX-listeners have also been pioneers in broadcasting. In the beginning of the 20th century many broadcasting pioneers around the world were radioamateurs. In the 1970's we had again a huge amount of new radiostations on the air in many European countries. This time the enthusiasts were mostly DX-listeners.

For some reason through the years the enthusiastic pioneers have been broadcasting illegally without licences. I wonder why broadcasting has always been so close to the hearts of so many active radioenthusiasts?

Over a century of experience

In the end of the 1980's some active Finnish radioenthusiasts started to form a loose group. They were radioamateurs, DX-listeners, piratebroadcasters, scannerlisteners and CB'ers. They came from different parts of Finland. They were men, who always wanted to reach out for something new and different.

In 1999 the group was in a critical situation. They desperately wanted to break through and to something special first. Go, where no man has gone before. Just for their own mental stability. Those 10 men had alltogether almost 200 years of radioexperience. That's why it was quite difficult to find something totally new in the radioworld.

Broadcasting. In shortwaves!

Most bands and modes were already heard and done. When the group continued to discuss about the possibilities, they found themselves again and again talking about the same subject: broadcasting. In Finland broadcasting is the most limited part of the radio as a hobby. FM was out of question, nothing new there. In mediumwaves there has been Finnish legal stations already on the air. TV sounded a bit too expensive for us poor enthusiasts. There were no legal equipment available for the long waves and we doubted if we can built it ourselves. But... how about the shortwaves?

An idea about the legal shortwave station hit like zillion volts. Or watts. That hasn't been done in Finland before. Untill now.

Quick connections to different parties proved, that in theory this could be done. The biggest problem was to find a legal transmitter. Also it would be nice, if the station could be founded with only a handful of dollars. Or without any dollars. But everything can be done. If there's a will, there's a way. And now there was a will.


We were surprised to find out how many different kinds of recources and talents were represented in the group. The transmitters were built by ourselves, tested in own workplace and approved by the Finnish DTI/FCC. The association was founded. The stationbuilding was reconstructed. The studio was built. The licences were applied. And almost everything was done with own time and own money.

Scandinavian Weekend Radio

The results of the enthusiasts' work were heard on the airwaves already less than one year after the GO! –decision. In the town of Virrat, in the village of Liedenpohja operates the Scandinavian Weekend Radio. SWR started broadcasting in shortwaves 2. July 2000. SWR is the first and only independent, commercial, private shortwave station in the Nordic Countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmard, Iceland).

SWR broadcasts every first Saturday of the month at 00.00 – 24.00 Finnish time. In wintertime that is UTC + 2 hours and at summertime UTC + 3 hours. SWR is also on the air in some special occasions, for example at Christmas.

Untill 5. May 2001 SWR was broadcasting only in 25 meters in 11690 and 11720 kHz. 2. June 2001 SWR started to use another transmitter. It operates in the 48 mb, were the frequencies are 5980, 5990 and 6170 kHz.

In the 25 mb the reception has been best in Central-Europe and the British Isles, but SWR has also received several reports from USA. In the 48 mb the reception is better in Finland and the neighbouring countries. The transmitter power in both bands has been around 50 watts. Upgrades are planned and they will follow.

From enthusiasts to enthusiasts

An association called "The support association of alternative broadcasting" is responsible for the operation of SWR. The editors and DJ's of the station are mostly members of the association. All members have fulltime jobs elsewhere and no-one is a radio professional at the moment. All the members have sometimes been working on some other radiostation, either as an editor or in maintenance. SWR also gives airtime to contributors and students. SWR also relays good quality shows from organisations like Radio Marabu and The Big Backyard.

The station has been built to an old farmhouse in countryside. There are studio, kitchen, lobby, outside toilet, sauna and a room for sleeping. The antennatower is located in the garden and it is about 20 meters tall.

The studioequipment is mostly inexpensive brandname homestereolevel pieces: 2 MD-decks, 3 CD-decks, 2 turntables, 1 MC-deck, 1 mixer and 3 microphones. All programs are recorded with a VHS-homevideorecorder. The incoming calls are feeded into the mixer with the help of a laptop PC with Nokia GSM-card and a hands free set.

The antenna for 25 meters is a halfwave dipole antenna, which is hanging around 20 meters of the ground. In 48 mb SWR uses a special dipole antenna 6 meters of the ground.

Freedom and power

SWR has no format and no playlists. There is a rule, that over half of the music should be from Finland. SWR aims to play mostly music, that is not played in other radiostations. The editors are couraged to use other languages than Finnish. English is most common language in programs. The editor makes the final decision. He plays whatever he wants and talks whatever he wants. Almost all programs are broadcasted live.

Luckily the SWR editors have very different taste of music. That’s why there is lots of different music in different shows. DJ Ville has a show called "Perkele" (= devil), where he plays heavyrock and other black and hard music. DJ Tex Willer loves rootsmusic and plays Rock'a'billy, country and '50's rock'n'roll in his "Rockin' Rhythm" –show. DJ Häkä takes it to the limit with techno and dance.

SWR has only limited recordcollection. The editors mostly bring their own records to SWR when they have a show to do. Some recordcompanies have started to send promocopies to SWR. Especially small independent recordcompanies have liked the possibility to reach listeners around Europe.

Eventhough SWR is a commercial station, there has been only few advertisers so far. SWR is not selling radioadvertisements actively. The station mostly gets the needed money from the members. The biggest cost for the station are the music copyright fees.

Do you want to join?

SWR is operated by the volunteers. SWR is open for people who love radio. SWR rents airtime to enthusiasts who want to be on the air. All of you are very wellcome to visit out station during the broadcasts. If you happen to be in Finland around the first saturday of the month, come and see SWR.

You can find more information and great photos about SWR in SWR-webpages at www.swradio.net. You can send questions, reception reports and comments by e-mail to info@swradio.net. The mailing address is SWR, P.O.Box 35, FIN-40321 JYVäSKYLä, Finland. SWR answers to all correct reception reports with a multicolor QSL-card. Just remember to enclose 2 IRC's or 2 USD with your report.

SWR has managed well, because there has been so many people who have been working hard to make the dreams come true.

DJ Tex Willer

The author was first time applying for a broadcasting licence in 1983, he has been producing radioshows to 6 countries and he has been a managing director of a large Finnish local radiostation.