Radio  Finland  Timeline

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The Finnish Broadcasting Co (Yleisradio) launched its shortwave broadcasting in Lahti in 1938 and ceased broadcasting on SW in Pori in 2006. This page lists important milestones and  red letter dates in the life and times of  Radio Finland.


This logo of  Radio Finland  was used from the late 80s until  2002. Based here on a photo from a poster the logo is not seen in all detail.

The channel name "Radio Finland"  first appeared in the early 70s. In the 90s  YLE  registered  "YLE Radio Finland"  as a sub trade name. 


1938: "Lahti, Finland..."
YLE  started  low powered SW broadcasts  from Lahti, the site of the long wave transmitter.  Annoucements by Ms Kaisu Puuska urged listeners abroad to send in feed back.

1939-1945: War years
Britain  confiscated  the 100 kW Marconi  transmitter  that had been ordered by YLE to arrange coverage of the Helsinki olympics of 1940.  Finland used low powered  SW transmitters in Helsinki, Lahti and Pori  to air the voice  of Finland during the war years.  Foreign language broadcasts  were handled by the State Information Service, at the height of operations  seven languages were used.

1945-1948: Early post war years
Following the  end of hostilities, only broadcasts in  English and French continued. Following the  closing of the governmental information  services   a special Radio Unit was created in the Foreign Ministry. It produced  daily ten-minute bulletins  in English and French, the presenters walked from the Ministry to YLE (15 Fabianinkatu) for the broadcasts. See the 1949 schedule on the right.

1948:  Inauguration of the high powered transmitter in Pori
Finland  signed formal peace treaties with the UK and  the Soviet Union in 1947.  Already in 1946 the UK had allowed the 100 kW  transmitter  (ordered before the war) to be shipped  to Finland  and it was installed  in Pori (west coast).  A formal  inauguration event was  arranged in 1948,  aired live - with the then YLE  Director General  Hella Wuolijoki addressing an elite audience on location. President J.K.Paasikivi was heard  from Helsinki via circuit as part of the broadcast.

1949-58: "Years  of  routine work, without much enthusiasm."
The Ministry of  Foreign Affairs continued  producing the daily bulletins  in English and French, and YLE handled the domestic languages for expatriate abroad.

In YLE no department was created for the sector and  work was placed in various  sections  as an extra duty. This made the international programming something of  a nuisance  to many within the old radio centre  in  the 1950s.

 Because of the international service  YLE had an almost 24-hour operation in Helsinki. Although the domestic services  had  long intermissions in the morning, afternoon and night, the international  broadcasts  covered the rest.

1958: The Foreign Ministry discontinues  its output, YLE cuts back its role  as well.
The then new official in charge of media  services  at the Ministry, Max Jakobson wanted to close  the radio service and  got enthusiastic support from the  Head of  Programmes  at YLE, Jussi Koskiluoma.  Max Jakobson seemed  to see the future in the placement of  programming  on foreign stations, as tapes. The language used by Jakobson in some of the memoranda  is fairly direct.

Also Finnish language special productions for expats  were cancelled, only the merchant navy hour remained following  an intervention by the respective union.

1958-1972: The era of  "bussing" the broadcasts
In the drastic  cutback  in October 1958  YLE  closed down even the broadcast audio circuit  from Helsinki to the  west coast transmitter base. From then on until 1972  technicians at the base taped  portions of the domestic service for reruns or  the base simply aired  domestic channels  live.  The remaining programmes produced  specially for  SW  were sent to Pori  as bus packets, arriving in Pori in a day.

The changes that took effect  on October 10, 1958,  amounted to an almost  total demise  of the  service level  introduced in 1948.

The radio critic of the Uusi Suomi took up the situation, only to get a sarcastic letter from Max Jakobson.


1958-1967: Radio enthusiasts take an international broadcasting role.
Initially after  the  closing of the  Foreign Ministry service there were no foreign language broadcasts.  Then  some radio enthusiasts started producing magazines, mainly intended for  comparable radio enthusiasts. This was a monthly feature first, but the service soon expanded  to include a 30-minute Finland-related magazine on Mondays and a 60-minute  record request programme on Fridays, with reruns the following day.


1967-1977: The  Ministry reconsiders its position and gives  some funding.
The  Finnish Foreign Ministry had changed its stand  and  gave YLE a relatively small  sum  to  start English language programming on a daily basis.  The demise of the sector had come up also in a policy book written by N-B Storbom "Yleisradion suunta" where  he had noted the sector cannot be a playing ground for enthusiasts only. YLE  advertised  for  freelancers and the first broadcast aired on May 4th, 1967

On the domestic  side  seasonal news in English had started in 1965, but  that production was unrelated to the international side, though some freelancers were on the air in both.

1967-1977: Choice of organizational  location hampers development
Within the YLE,  the new English  service  was  placed in the office of International Relations. Some well known broadcast journalists had been placed in the sector as upper echelon managers, but the actual hands-on production  suffered seriously  from lack of contact with the news sector. Many British and American freelancers acted  as "voices of Finland", but without sufficient background, any day-to-day continuity and supervision.

 There were not that many  issues related to content in the off news productions, in the high brow items in particular, and in that genre the newly-established  service attained a good quality.  

 See  a  feature on this site about the  early years of  the newly established  English  service. Coming soon.


1973: Circuit to Pori re-opens, a continuity unit starts in Helsinki
September 1973 marked the return to some of the  service level of  1958.
A continuity studio was established in Helsinki and the circuit to Pori was opened, though Pori continued airing night time programming from tapes. - The unit showed  imagination in making ends meet and started using  audio technicians  as  annoncers. Such a combo operation did not start on the domestic  side of public radio  in Finland  until the 80s.

1975:  CSCE broadcasts
Though  all freelance, the English service of  YLE  was able  to produce limited coverage of the  1975 Helsinki Summit of the  Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. 

Just preceding the event in August, a company wide strike by a freelancer union  had closed down the English service for two months.  Studio managers kept playing a current song of the time "They are coming to take me away..ha,ha..".

1976: A new transmitter is added  in Pori
Following a campaign by  YLE  and merchant navy related organizations  a  new 250 kW Brown Boveri unit is purchased for Pori, with some additional government funding.  Also a rotatable  log-periodic antenna  was constructed. This made it possible to broadcast also to Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

1977:  First ever domestic  availability
"First of March, 1977, will remain in the history of  Radio Finland  as a red letter day..."  Those were the words  Donald  Fields welcomed  listeners on domestic  Medium Wave.  A half hour  every evening had been given to Radio Finland on MW transmitters in Turku (Åbo) and Helsinki, and some of the evenings were allocated to English.

As  short wave broadcasts skipped nearby areas, this  was the first time listeners inside Finland  were able to hear  the coverage in English.

1978: Foreign language  FM  in Helsinki
From  February  1978  all the English language broadcasts  of  Radio Finland  started  airing  on an FM  frequency in  Helsinki.  The low power transmitter was the result of  activism  shown by a YLE  engineer who suspected  that the contents of the  English service  were"left wing" and should be subject to control.

 His suspicions  were unfounded though , as from 1977 hands-on control of the contents had been introduced. And  until that time, if there had been  a tilt, it was towards the right, not left.

But the FM transmitter in Helsinki gave  Radio  Finland  a  great  PR  boost in the  capital metro area. One should remember that there were no commercial stations at the time, and the whole FM dial comprised five YLE channels, three in Finnish and two in Swedish.  This new channel was noted instantly.

 1974: Foreign Ministry financing  ceases
The YLE  English service had been launched on the basis  of  a small  subsidy from the  Foreign Ministry. YLE had to apply for the funding each year.  One year the application had been  simply forgotten and  the funding was no longer  available.  No attempt was made to reactivate the system  as the cost of the operation was considered to be so minimal against the backdrop of  YLE resources anyway.  Thus, from then on, foreign language broadcasting from Finland  was financed  on the basis of the  annual TV usage  fees paid by Finnish households.

1979: Professional proximity to the YLE  News is established, though formal organization is separate.
Radio Finland  moved its production from the corporate office building (at Kesäkatu 2) to downtown premises  located right under the  national newsroom. This was important at a time when there were no computer connections.  1980  Radio Finland moved to the Pasila  Center, along with the News. 
The formal organizational position as part of YLE International Relations  remained  unchanged until 1986.


1978- Developing  the format and  criteria  for  English language  news casts
Major effort  was put in the late 70s and early 80s into  the  content of  the  newscasts  for  international distribution. See  the item on this website about  the development of English language  news operation.

A lot of  coverage focussed on the  Finnish security policy , and the fact that Finland  was  a democracy in the  "western sense of the word".

In 1979  Radio Finland introduced two-hour  talk shows  in the North American beam morning programme. The format continued  until the final years, under different names.  See a  separate  item  appearing shortly.

For most of the time,  the host was Barbara  Helsingius, an entertainer and broadcaster. For some years the slot was handled by  Patrick Humphreys and Valerie Vainonen.

1980- Assuring the  western sound image of Radio Finland
From 1980  scripting and presentation was  separated in Radio Finland.  Writers had to have a good command of  both  Finnish and  English, to be able  to understand the sources correctly, and thus many of them were native Finns.  The presenters meanwhile could be hired  on the basis of their on air talent only and no command of  Finnish was  required.  The change gave  Radio Finland  a "western" sound, in contrast to the Soviet bloc stations  that mainly used their nationals as on air talent.  Within the  service this  was considered to be a major image  issue. -


1982: Campaigning for investments
The  technical situation in the Pori SW base started to be crucial, one mast had to be  taken down and most transmitters  were  from the 40s. YLE  campaigned  to get government  funding as  using  Finnish TV  usage payments for the investment was not deemed to be correct.

1985: The German language resumes on Radio Finland
Some consideration had been given in the mid 70s within the International relations (home of Radio Finland at the time) to starting German, but the plans had not materialized.  The formal obstacle was always financing, but in the background there was concern about a possible  negative reaction by East Germany. 

Juhani Niinistö  wrote a plan in September 1985 based on the idea that German would be started without any extra funding, simply taking the resources from the English operation.  He did not expect the initiative to lead to anything, but suddenly the Director of the Central Branch  Jussi Tunturi  gave his approval.   Niinistö then wanted to act  quickly, to avoid a possible change of opinion among the YLE  top brass, and the  service was launched in mid October 1985 as a weekend operation.

The German  service  got a good start, the first broadcast was reported in ORF Radio News and  got high visibility in the  upper left hand corner the back page of  Berliner Zeitung (BZ, West).  

In the formal opening broadcast Domestic  Radio Programme Director Keijo Savolainen  underlined audiences  in "two other neutral countries, Switzerland and Austria." 

A separate  item about the political connotations involved in the launch of  German will appear shortly.

The first producer of  German,  Dieter Krause, worked hard to  create  a  service  and to promote it. The German  service  was the first from Radio Finland to arrange  listener events  and to attend  expatriate meetings.  In 1991  Dr Stefan Tschirpke took over  as a producer and  remain in the position until the closing of  German in 2002.



1986: Corporate location changes
In June  1986  Radio Finland  moved  from its  position as part of  YLE  International Relations  to the domestic  Radio Unit.  International Relations  had been  a safe  and  secure home  during the  build up, once  the International Relations had understood the importance of the service.  But the corporate distance from operational radio had been huge.

The Head of  International Relations Mrs   Ulla-Kristiina Haarma said that Radio Finland had now grown to such dimensions  that it would "be accepted  as a  feather in anyone's cap". Haarma's predecessor Ville Zilliacus  (a nationally known veteran broadcaster)  had, when retiring in 1980, warned  Niinistö  to keep "head down so that you wont be hit.."

French  returned  in  February 1987. The then Director of  Radio Jouni Mykkänen  backed the idea: "As there is German, there should be French as well".  The  French  service   inherited first the  weekend slots that  had  been vacated  by German, now a daily operation. French became  a  daily fifteen minute  bloc by the end of the decade. Brita Jokinen-Morris, a broadcaster from the Finnish service was assigned  as producer, freelancers  were recruited.  The  YLE  French  Service  never  attained  the level of  audience popularity of the German service.  It  attracted  many friends though, particularly in Africa. -  In the late 90s  French and German  were combined as a production group.


1987: Domestic AM becomes  Radio Finland territory
YLE had closed most of its domestic  AM stations, simply for lack of  audiences. FM covered the whole country.   The remaining three stations (MW in Helsinki and Pori, LW in Lahti) started airing the compilation channels (selections from YLE networks and separate productions) of  Radio Finland.

1988: New Pori base inaugurated
The new Pori  transmitter site  started broadcasting in 1987. A formal inuguration was on May 10, 1988.  YLE  Director  General  Sakari Kiuru  gave  a keynote speech and the base was formally inaugurated by the General Director of the Ministry of Communication Juhani Korpela.

1990: Russian starts
Director  General  Reino Paasilinna  took up  in early  September  the possibilities  of  resuming broadcasts  in Russian.  He pursued his idea vigorously  and  the broadcasts  could begin as early as November 1990.   While  the services in German and French had been  iniatives  from Radio Finland, the startup of  Russian was  a corporate project  clearly reflected in the  ease in getting resources such as working space, normally difficult to obtain in those  days.

Timo Uotila,  a broadcaster with previous  YLE  service in pr and information as well as  Finnish language broadcasts  was assigned  a producer.  Staffers  were hired mainly on part time and freelance basis. Later  Eija Laitinen, formerly a corporate intrepreter, joined as a producer.


1991: Capital FM
The Helsinki "monitoring relay" of  Radio Finland  became  a fully fledged  radio station in October 1991, programmed by Radio Finland.  There had been empty slots between  YLE  foreign language  segments. They were  filled with relays  from VOA, BBC, DW in German and RFI in French.   Later during the 90s  the  selection  of languages and  broadcasters  expanded.   See  a  separate item on domestic  foreign language operations.


1991: Major  domestic PR
The YLE  corporate information unit devoted  major  attention to  external  broadcasting  in the early 90s. The intention was  to help  travellers  discover  Radio Finland as a way to keep in touch with home.

YLE  was somewhat unique in  marketing its  external  service domestically.  In countries where a high  barrier  existed  between domestic and international broadcasting  this  was not usually done.

In one of the  early campaigns  a wellknown  TV role character ("The casual traveller) was seen en route along with a  portable  radio.

Later during the 90s  Radio Finland itself  underlined  world band radio  as a cheap way of keeping in touch. Finnish nationals had been hit by high mobile usage  charges abroad  and  sales  of  world band  radios  went up in Finland, briefly before the demise of the sector.

1992: Slow speed Finnish begins
Radio Finland launched  weekly roundups  in  slow speed  Finnish, with simplified  conjugations. There was some demand  for this kind of  operation  among second or third generation Finns  in  North America. "Special English"  developed by VOA  in the late 50s  was seen as an example.   Slow speed Finnish later  developed  into a  daily service  and  continues  even today on YLE.  It is one of the few products developed at Radio Finland that survived the drastic closedown  enacted  between 2002 and 2006.

1993: Radio Finland enters the  satellite age in a hurry
In 1992  Radio Finland  staffers found out in a press clipping that Radio Sweden has started  making its  Russian  available  for placement from satellite,  in Russia.  There was no way  YLE  could  match  the  service.

We  found out  somehow though that  Deutsche  Welle  had spare capacity in its satellite Eutelsat. Juhani Niinistö  and  the DW  Head of  Marketing  Burkhardt Nowotny drew up a contract and  the Director of  Radio  Tapio Siikala  approved it. The YLE Technical Division had reservations and would have liked to wait until the new digital satellites would be on line. That would have been years.  But their view  was not accepted.

This  was  a very fast moving project. In January 2003 the plan was still uncertain, but  the broadcasts  via  Berlin started already on May 1, 1993.

Co-operation between YLE and  Deutsche Welle  widened  then later to cover satellite availability in Asia and Australia.

YLE  also got some funding from the  Foreign Ministry  for the launch and for free satellite equipment  given to stations  abroad. 

While  primarily intended  for  services in Russian in Russia, the  availability of  satellite  was quickly discovered by  contemporary  expatriate  communities  in  Southern Europe. And  the migration from SW to satellite downlink got under  way.

The rest of  Europe  was already starting television satellite channels, Finland did just radio.. Why?
.The main reason is, seen in 2012, that organizationally  external radio was part of the Radio Unit in YLE, and in the TV unit no with sufficient clout was interested in launching international TV  from Finland. Actually, the idea  was  met with fear. And from Radio Finland  nothing could be done  regarding TV.  It was not until former prime minister  Kalevi Sorsa  in his capacity as the chairman of  an expatriate  service organization  used his influence and  almost forced YLE to launch TV Finland in 1998.

1993: Lahti LW  closes
The  Long Wave  station in Lahti on 254 kHz  (1181m) "went on hiatus" on May 31, 1993.  There had been plans  for  a new  LW base on the  southwestern coast, but there was no financing  and  somehow the view was that LW had no role in the broadcast set up of  satellites, SW and MW.

The last half hour of Lahti was narrated by Juhani Niinistö, with the radio Head Announcer  Pentti Fagerholm giving the last announcement followed by the  12 noon chimes of the  Turku Cathedral clock and two rounds  of the YLE radio logo.  Following the closing Radio Finland  got complains  mainly from  areas  close to Finland in the  East.

1995: Satellite  services  expand
Radio Finland  became  a customer  to the World  Radio Network, a service company  launched  by  London based experts with former  service  at the BBC. Within a few years  Radio Finland co-operation with WRN  grew into a 10-day satellite feed in the US and Canada daily  and  two 24 digital channels in Europe, and  internet operations (see below)


1996: Serving the  Finnish short term  expats  was  defined  as the primary task of  Radio Finland
Upon initiative  from  Radio Director  Tapio Siikala  a detailed strategy  for  YLE  international radio  was  established.  The  service  in  Finnish and  Swedish for  Finns  temporarily abroad  was  defined  as the primary task, while traditional  emigrants  would be the  second  target group.  Foreign language  services  were  seen primarily intended for  those listeners abroad who would be specifically interested in Finland, for work related  reasons or because of their ancestry. 

This 1996 strategy has a major impact on programmingon  Radio Finland.  For example,  Finnish language  sports  relayed  from the domestic  services  were increased greatly, to include  live hockey, etc. The idea was to attract listeners temporarily abroad  in the same fashion as in Finland.  In Western Europe  Radio Finland  SW  services  was now available  all day, making "domestic listening habits" possible.

The strategy also  greatly improved the internal position of the  Finnish and Swedish language side of  Radio Finland.   In the 80s and early 90s  the  Finnish  service - even though larger in volume - had become somehow subservient to the foreign language operations.

The "Siikala strategy" remained  valid until the early years of  the 2000s. 


1996: Radio Finland divided into two units
Radio Finland  comprised  from now on two units, one for the Finnish and Swedish language operation and one for foreign languages. The Managing Editor for  Finnish and  Swedish  was  Pertti Seppä, and one for  foreign languages  was  Christina Rockstroh,  of German extraction.

1996: The first  internet  services  of  YLE
Radio Finland  opened  the  first continous   internet audio  channel of  YLE.  This was done  with the assistance of  WRN (London), the  servers  were in London and soon also as a mirror server in the US. The audio  was downlinked  in London from Eutelsat.

1996: Daily relays  in English in Canada
Radio Finland  became  a  part of the CBC Overnight.  Arranged via the WRN in London,  the daily Radio Finland half hour  was taken down from satellite atthe CBC in Toronto, shortened somewhat  and  aired nationally.  During the first years the YLE slot was at 3.30 am in most time zones, and later closer to the morning. 

The CBC  relay was available to YLE at no extra cost and was one of the major  channel of distribution for the YLE English  service.

The  service continued  until  the closing of  English by YLE  in October 2002.


1998: Presence  at Travel Fairs
Radio Finland  appeared for the first time  in the  Finnish national  travel fair "Matkamessut"  in Helsinki.  Short wave  radio  was marked  increasingly  as a  travel companion  underlining its low cost  compared to taking contact with the mobile phone just to hear the news.
Sales of  world band  radios  increased in Finland and also YLE started  selling  receivers.

1998: DAB and New  Services
YLE  created  a subunit  that comprised  Radio Finland  and  newly established  special services on DAB.   Later two regional (Helsinki and  surrounding areas) foreign language DAB  channels  are  created  to complement the Capital FM,  one all in English, while the other channel  features  the rest of the languages used in downlinks  from satellites.

1998: TV Finland  starts
YLE  starts  a Pay-TV channel  for  Europe.  Customer management was outsourced and the actual transmission  was placed with a satellite from the Norwegian Telenor, at 1 deg West.  The sky position was not wellknown in continental Europe (dominated by Eutelsat at 13 and  Astra at 19 deg) and hampered the attractiveness of the  service.  Subscriber levels  remained faily low.

Until fairly late in the  preparations "continental"  alternatives  as  a satellite  were under consideration, but YLE chose   the Norwegians in the end.

The fairly low key  choice by the TV meant that the  "radio only"  satellites purchased by the radio unit  remained viable.  Radio Finland satellite audio in Europe could be listened to via a satellite dish beamed to the "same direction" as the neighbours  had.


1998: Expatriate parliament
Finland Society (Suomi-Seura, Finland  Samfundet) created  a forum for  Finnish nationals  abroad, Expatriate Parliament.   Radio Finland started broadcasting its plenary meetings  live  and later  also some of the regional caucus meetings  in various continents.

Later the  Expatriate Parliament became  a key forum for the  discussion of the plans  of the YLE  to close down  the international service.

1998: Services in small  Fenno-Ugric languages
YLE Radio Finland started  weekly roundups in  small  Fenno-Ugric languages  spoken in  Russia.  The project was part of  a Finnish government project to help those languages  in maintaining relevance in a Russian speaking environment. The content of the broadcasts  was produced at the University of  Turku, based on scripts provided by Radio Finland.  The languages  were Udmurt  and two versions of  Mari.


2002: YLE gives up  English, German and French as part of the international service
YLE  took  fairly fast paced  decisions  to give up broadcasting  in foreign languages  internationally,  except in  Russian.
The decisions  were okeyed  by the Administrative Council, the highest parliamentary control body of  YLE.

The  Press Department of the  Ministry for Foreign Affairs deplored  the  plan, but  no political  action outside  YLE  on behalf of the  foreign language disposal plan was heard  of. 

´Radio Finland, in its broadcasts  and responses to  listener questions, remains fairly neutral. A unit of  a company cannot campaign against corporate  decesions or plans.

In the wake of the closings  in October, listener feed back is largest in German, also addressed to the  Finnish Embassy in Berlin.  The closing of the relays on CBC  attract comments as well.   The  CBC  replaced Finland  initially with  material from the Voice of  Russia.

English language  radio news for domestic  use   continued as a production of  TV News.  YLE had launched TV news in English some years  earlier.  Some employees of the RF English  get employment at the TV News.   There is no form of continuation of the  media tradition of the German and French services.

Please note  the closings were not  "closing the SW" and continuing in the internet, as done in Sweden, for examples, but a  cessasion of the whole operation.


2003: YLE restricts marketing of  SW
YLE  Marketing  told  Radio Finland that the  cost effectiveness  of  world band radio should no longer be used as a marketing theme.  It had been  established that  comparing the cost of listening to radio to the cost of listening radio via  a mobile phone  would be  conflicting marketing  information.

YLE had adopted  the development of  content for  mobile  phone devices as part of its strategies. In that situation  focus on the high cost of usage  abroad, on the roaming basis available to non-residents, was considered illogical and inappropriate.

In line with the instructions, Radio Finland cancelled  all  advertising comparing the cost of  radio to the cost of  a mobile phone,

Suomi-Seura, an expatriate interest organization, and  Expatrium, a commerical operation  serving high end  expatriates, continued  giving publicity to the  marketing slogans of  Radio Finland.



2005: Tough  debates
The year  was marked  with  tough  exchanges  between  YLE  and  interest organizations  representing  expatriate  Finns.  At the May plenary meeting of the  Expatriate Parliament in Helsinki  the debate  was  hectic.  Representing  YLE there was the  Chairman of the  Administrative Council (highest parliamentary control body), in the end  he ran out of arguments and said simply that YLE was allowed and in position to do whatever it wanted..

Suomi-Seura  published  a  mass circulation leaflet in support of keeping the broadcast service  on the air.  The SS  leaflet  looked somewhat like earlier YLE  material.

In the autumn YLE  merged  Radio Finland (as a unit)  with   Radio Peili (a spoken word channel). The new unit was named  "Compilation Channels" (koostekanava),  based on the idea that both channels  used material from other  YLE  channels.
The Head of Radio Peili  became the head of the new unit.  Juhani  Ninistö, who had been head of  Radio Finland, left the company at the end of 2005.

Key  components of the programme  services  of Radio Finland in Finnish and Swedish  were  deleted  during the year.    Broadcasting on SW and MW  from Pori was closed down at the end of 2006.  Medium wave  from Helsinki  went on a few more years. 





This  site  a private  media history venture  by  Juhani Niinistö. He  worked  as  Head of YLE Radio Finland, a section responsible for international radio and domestic foreign language radio,  for  a considerable time  until 2005.

 juhani.niinisto    AT





















In 1998  YLE Radio Finland  observed  the  sixtieth anniversary of  the start of  SW broadcasting from Finland  through  the  publication of  this poster  "Sixty years  with you". A  small print run was distributed on promotional occasions.

This  picture was cropped  from a  photo of  an event where the poster  was shown.

Picture 1: In a YLE wartime propaganda picture  greetings  are being broadcast to friends and relatives  in western enemy countries.  Finland was a cobelligerent of  Germany (1941-1944) and a state of war prevailed between Finland and Great Britain and its dependencies, but not between Finland and the US. 

Picture 2: Oke Jokinen was a long time producer of the merchant navy programme  in Finnish.  This weekly feature  was the only Finnish language  surviver in the major cutbacks of October 1958 and continued then until the 80s.

Picture 3: Journalist Riitta Raukko was the only salaried employee  at the time of the re-launch of foreign language international broadcasting in  1965. 

Picture 4:  Pirjo Teittinen and  Rolf Streng were familiar  voices of the Finnish and  Swedish language  services in the late 70s. 

Picture 5: The control console  of  the old Pori  SW broadcasting station in the late 60s.

Picture 6: Long time  Head  of  International Broadcasting  Juhani  Niinistö pictured  under a newly installed  satellite dish  at the Pasila Tower  in 1993.  Yleisradio had started co-operation with  Deutsche Welle in satellite distribution, after a fast process of  taking decisions. The broadcasts began May 1st, 1993.

Picture  7:  Alan  Beasley was one of the voices  heard in the  English bulletins  during the era when the Foreign Ministry was in charge of the broadcasts. He is seen here along with studio manager  Eila Leutola  on assignment outside  Helsinki.

 Picture  8: These  radio enthusiasts maintained a modicum of  English language broadcasting  between 1958 and 1967, with two weekly magazines.  Front row right  Erik Gagneur, in the middle second row Martti Rinne, the rest of the names are not available.  Rinne and Gagneur later joined the national Swedish language news of YLE.

Picture 9: English language programme assistants from the early years after the  re-launch of  English  as a YLE product, from the left  Ulla Brady, Joseph Brady, Eddy Hawkins  and Judy Carr. 

Picture10: Donald Fields  was the first  programme assistant hired  at the time of the re-launch in May 1967.  He is seen here along with studio manager  Ritva Bärlund. They produced together nearly 300 broadcasts in the  series  Spotlight.

Picture 11: Journalists  Eddy Hawkins  was  the  first salaried  English language broadcaster from 1978.  He worked later  as the Producer of English programming and news. 

Picture 12: From the late  eighties Radio Finland  participated  actively  in Finnish expatriate events  abroad.  In this picture (left) the YLE Distribution Bureau representative  John Berky  along with journalist Kimmo Wilska and  secretary Pirjo Usenius at an event in the US.

Picture 13: Dieter Krause  was the first producer of the German service, re-launched in 1985. He worked hard in promoting the  service. He is seen here with journalist Eeva Himanen. The picture was distributed  widely in the late 80s. 

Picture 14: The complement of the  German  service in the late 90s. Producer Stefan  Tschirpke (left),  journalist Frank Fischer,  journalist Christina  Rockstroh (later managing editor of  the whole  foreign language service)  and journalist Rebecca  Liebermann. 

Picture 15: The presenter of the  French bulletin in 1949-1958 was Camille Enckell. Her spouse  Arvid Enckell was the Head of the  Foreign Ministry  Radio  Service  Department.   

Picture 16:  Producer of the Russian Service  Timo Uotila  and  journalist   Nikolai Meinert  in the mid 90s. 

 Picture 17: YLE  Director of  Radio Tapio Siikala (right) seen on a visit to Estonia. A contract for  placement of YLE  Russian is being signed  the Estonian commercial station Radio 100.  

 - The poster had been done  in something of  a hurry and space  was limited.  Thus many people  with a marked input into the  production of  Radio Finland  were missing.

Precious  few  broadcast hours

Printed  schedules were  fairly  basic  until the 70s.  Broadcast hours  have to be assessed against the backdrop that until 1963  the  national  channels  were on the air at 06.30-08.10,  10.45-14.10  and  16.00-2300 (local time,  GMT + 2), weekends longer.  The  idle time of the domestic continuity units  was used  for  international broadcasting until the 1958 cutbacks.

The YLE  international radio  service  schedule  from 25.5.1949.  The only foreign languages are  English and  French, both in 10-minute bulletins.  English  was  aired at  12.15 GMT for Europe and South America and  at  00.25 GMT for  North America,  French at 17.45 GMT and 22.05 GMT both for Europe and South America .


At the height of  broadcast hours

This  broadcast schedule  from 1989  features probably the  largest  volume of  SW broadcasts  from YLE.   This level remained  until 1994, when some ten percent of hours  was  cut  as  satellite broadcasting had  begun.  This schedule does not include  Russian yet.   Finnish is marked here gray, Swedish red, English blue, German green and French yellow.



Satellite  channels  serving  several continents simultaneously

This  schedule of  Channel One  of the YLE  Radio Finland  satellite  service  reflects the  effort to  take  into account prime time   periods  in  most  target areas.   For example,  the  evening prime time in North America and the Asian morning begin at the same time at  1 am  Finnish time.  Times  in this schedule  are  in Helsinki time and in Australian Eastern Standard Time and in Eastern Daylight Time (North America). Helsinki time was given  also for the reason that most listeners knew the time difference between Finland and their location and  thus could calculate the broadcast time locally.

Major  domestic marketing from the 80s

In a  YLE  leaflet  (below)  promoting  international  broadcasting  in the early 90s  well known societal figures  explained how  Radio Finland  was part of their lives  when abroad.   On the left,  former Finnish ambassador in Washington  Jaakko Iloniemi explains who he had heard  Radio Finland  while canooing  down in the  Grand  Canyon. On the  left,  the CEO of  Marimekko Kirsti Paakkanen  explains how she  listeners  to Radio Finland  during the business trips and  in her second home in Nize. 

 This  leaflet  was  part of  a campaign arranged by the  YLE corporate information division, and not by  Radio Finland itself. It included also TV spots on national television.


Examples  of  the  cover pages  of   Radio Finland  schedules  from the late 90s.  The promotional setup on the right  "Breakfast and World Band Radio"  was  produced with  various  newspapers  seen,  such as  South China Morning Post (HK) and  Der Tagesspiegel (Berlin).

This large  wall poster  was photographed  at a travel fair in Helsinki. It promoted "your contact with Finland"  zero  cents  per minute, and told  the customer to purchase  a world band radio, right now.   Radios  were sold  at the YLE stand,  and on some occasions  YLE  sold  out  its  supply.

These two ladies  were  wellknown  imaginary radio characters  on YLE domestic  networks  Radiomafia and YleX.   Though usually heard  as  voices only, they appeared as  persons  on YLE Radio Finland  fair stands. They also taped promotional spots for use on Radio Finland and domestic channels..  This poster  was  distributed fairly widely in 2003.



Domestic  foreign language services

This  schedule  from the early 2000s  features  the  availability of  foreign language relays and  YLE  programming  on the Capital FM and the two DAB  services  launched as  spinn-offs  of  the  service.  YLE  Mondo  aired  other languages than  English.   Later, the name YLE Mondo  was  used for the  Capital FM. More here.