Translated from French:
The most powerful medium-wave transmitter in the Baltics reaches Russia. Radio Eli was a project launched in 1999, with the aim of broadcasting on medium waves to a Russian-speaking audience who needed the gospel after 70 years of an atheist regime.
The transmitting location is located north of Tartu, near the village of Kavastu (58°25’04.2″N 27°05’59.8″E) In 2001, a wooden building was constructed to house a 50 kW transmitter Harris MW50 and two two hundred meter high lattice towers were installed by Christian volunteers from Britain and America.
On October 3, 2001, Radio Eli began broadcasting, on medium wave 1035 kHz, a two-hour Russian-language program from Tartu Family Radio.
A month later, daily broadcasting increased to 14 hours a day and, on January 13, 2002, the transmitter was on the air 24 hours a day. Several producers of religious programs joined the project.
The only weak point was the Harris transmitter, which had been offered by Blue Ridge Broadcasting: it was already old and had difficulty keeping up!
In 2008, the relatively inefficient transmitter was replaced by a 100 Kw Trans Radio Sender System (formerly Telefunken), model TRAM100 with transistors. The official opening of a new 100 KW medium wave transmitter did not leave TWR indifferent, especially since it had been warned that it would no longer be able to transmit from stations located inside Russia.
Trans World Radio was going to lack the means of broadcasting in Northern Europe, so it wanted to join the project and even increase the power to 200 kW.
As a reminder, TWR is the most powerful religious broadcasting organization. It broadcast programs in 200 languages in 160 countries.
TWR began broadcasting in 1954, from the international zone of Tangier in Morocco with a transmitter of only 2.5 W. Expelled from Morocco when the State canceled private licenses, TWR then established itself in Monaco from where it broadcast in OM and OC.
Given Radio Eli’s lack of resources, Trans World Radio launched a global campaign to collect donations to finance a second TRAM 100 transmitter to complement the previous one, an effort worth $409,000.
The second transmitter was financed by TWR and installed by volunteers from America’s missionary organization European Christian Radio Project (ECRP). The company Kintronic Labs Inc. is responsible for the antenna.
On May 10, 2010, the work was completed and Radio Eli TWR inaugurated the transmitter.
Initially, the total power was limited to 125 kW due to weaknesses in the power supply. This transmitter subsequently provided additional capabilities and listening tests and measurements confirmed the improvement in the quality of the radio signal over a wide area in the European part of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and even the Ural Mountains when the spread is good.
Also in 2010, a second Russian-language program began to be broadcast on FM. Nowadays, on a national level, Radio Eli also covers 80% of the Estonian territory with its network of FM transmitters covering approximately 80%.
This frequency made it possible to cover the entire northeastern part of Estonia, which led to the opening of a studio in Jõhvi. In 2011, the Radio Angel studio in Pskov began broadcasting live on the radio station.
In 2019, TWR wanted to withdraw from the project to focus on the Mayak station in Grigoriopol to broadcast in Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian. TWR accounted for a third of the station’s broadcast volume and financial resources.
Luckily, Radio Eli found a tenant: USAGM, the United States General Media Agency, rents the transmitter to broadcast from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Radio Svoboda programs, produced by Radio Free Europe – Radio Liberty in Prague. For its part, TWR remained with a limited number of programs.
The increase in the price of electricity forces the radio to reduce its power. Radio Eli broadcasts its broadcasts with 50 or 100 kW during its broadcasts. It offers power of 50 – 100 – 150 or 200 kW to the tenants’ choice: this is the case for TWR and Radio Svoboda broadcasts, broadcast with 200 kW. Currently, the National Service and the Russian Service are divided into two separate entities.
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