80 years of Radio Tirana

Radio Tirana has an 80 year history, dating back to 28 November 1938. It was the first Albanian radio station launched by King Zog I and Queen Geraldine in a ceremony at Tirana City Hall of that time. A year earlier, a shortwave transmitter with a power of 3 kW at 40 meters was put in operation in a building at Kont Urani Street (Tirana) and intended mainly for communication, but was also used to broadcast 3 hours of programs per day. The first broadcast consisted of choral singing, where Jorgji Truja and Marije Kraja sang an introductory piece, followed by the unique timbre of Kaliopi Nushi’s voice who pronounced the following phrase: “Ju flet Tirana” (English: This is Tirana speaking). This moment officially marked the first broadcast of Radio Tirana.

During the Italian invasion, after 7 April 1939 this radio was used to raise the awareness of the people to take the weapons and to protect the country.  It continued to broadcast, but during the German invasion, on 17 November 1943, the radio was directed by Germans. Only a year after that day, on 17 November 1944, the partisans took the control of Radio Tirana.

During that time it became very popular. It was like a fantastic premiere every night, with partisan songs, folk music interpreted in the studio, and then continued with the beautiful voices of the singers Tefta Tashko Koco, Marie Kraja, Kristaq Antoniu etc. The war was over and the people felt this through the optimism spread by Radio Tirana.

Despite the country’s tiny size and isolationist policies, Radio Tirana was a major international broadcaster during the Cold War. Its programs had a reputation for being little more than dull propaganda.

During Albania’s alliance with China in the 1960s and 1970s, Radio Tirana had to walk a fine line between being anti-West whilst also being anti-Soviet. As such, Radio Tirana kept close to the official policy of the People’s Republic of China, which was also both anti-West and anti-Soviet whilst still being socialist in tone. Following the break with China, the policy of  programs  still remained Marxist-Leninist in nature.  In 1987, 66 hours of programs were broadcast in 20 foreign languages every day. Political propaganda predominated during this period. Programs included: Introducing Albania, Listeners’ Letters, Culture and Art in Socialist Albania and The Song of Our Life. Radio Tirana also presented programs of revolutionary music from around the world, while the programme:” What we saw in socialist Albania” offered interviews with foreign visitors to Albania.

During the last months of the socialist era, overtly political programming was drastically scaled down, and the long-established practice of playing “The International” at the end of each broadcast was abandoned.

Radio Tirana is widely seen as a symbol representing Albanian culture in the world. Through its educational, cultural, and informative programs broadcast nationally and internationally, Radio Tirana has played a major role in the transmission of Albanian people’s cultural values. The station served as the first academy of Albanian literal language as in its archive can be found interesting historical artifacts such as a speech made by Fan Stilian Noli or the voice of Albanian arts’ ambassador, Alexander Moissi. Furthermore, it served as a venue on which emerging Albanian artists first showcased their talents later becoming icons. Radio Tirana enjoys a large number of listeners; it is still very popular and lovable for whole the public.