Radio Moscow pennant from late 1980s.

Voice of Russia (Russian: Голос России) is the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service. Its predecessor Radio Moscow was the official international broadcasting station of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

History[edit | edit source]

Early years[edit | edit source]

Radio Moscow began broadcasting in 1922 with a transmitter station RV-1 in the Moscow region. In 1925 a second broadcasting centre came on air at Leningrad. Radio Moscow was broadcasting (on mediumwave and shortwave) in English, French, Indonesian, German, Italian and Arabic by 1939. Radio Moscow did express concern over the rise of German dictator Adolf Hitler during the 1930s, and its Italian mediumwave service specifically was jammed by an order of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini during the late 1930s.

The Cold War years[edit | edit source]

The U.S. was first targeted by Radio Moscow during the early 1950s, with transmitters in the Moscow region. Later Western North America was targeted by the newly constructed Vladivostok and Magadan relay stations. The first broadcasts to Africa went on the air in the late 1950s in English and French.

In 1961 Radio Moscow for the first time spoke in three African languages: Amharic, Swahili and Hausa. Over time, listeners in Africa got a chance to tune into Radio Moscow in another eight African languages.

The first centralized news bulletin went on the air in August 1963 and reached out to listeners all over the world. In the years of the Cold War most news reports and commentaries focused on the relations between the United States and Soviet Union.

In the 1970s the cream of Radio Moscow's commentator teams united in a radio journal, called "News and Views". Taking part in the ambitious project were Viktor Glazunov, Leonid Rassadin, Yuri Shalygin, Alexander Kushnir, Yuri Solton and Vladislav Chernukha. Over the years the journal grew into a major information and analytical program of the Radio Moscow foreign service.

Changes 1980s–1997[edit | edit source]

In the late 1970s its English language service was renamed Radio Moscow World Service. The project was launched and supervised by a long-time Radio Moscow journalist and manager Alexander Evstafiev. Later a North American service, African service and even a "UK & Ireland" service (all in English) operated for a few hours per day alongside the regular (24 Hour) English World Service as well as services in other languages, the "Radio Peace and Progress" service and a small number of programmes from some of the USSR republics.

Broadcasting Soviet information was Radio Moscow's primary function. All programmes (except for short newsbreaks) had to be cleared by a "Programming Directorate", a form of censorship that was only removed in 1991.

At its peak, Radio Moscow broadcast in over 70 languages using transmitters in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and Cuba.

Radio Moscow's interval signal was 'My Country's Vast' (Russian: Широка страна моя родная), played on chimes. This has been changed to Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky in 1991. A move has been made in an attempt to drift away from the image of the communist propaganda media.

One of the most popular programmes on air in the 1980s, due to its informal presentation that contrasted with most other shows, was the 'Listeners’ Request Club' hosted by prominent radio presenter Vasily Strelnikov. Another popular feature which began on Radio Moscow was Moscow Mailbag, which answered listeners' questions in English about the former Soviet Union and later about Russia. For almost five decades, between 1957 and 2005, the programme was presented by Joe Adamov, who was known for his command of the English language and his good humour. Radio Moscow continued to broadcast until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, and was renamed the World Service of the Voice of Russia.

Transmission network[edit | edit source]

The Voice of Russia continues to broadcast to most of the world on shortwave and mediumwave, satellite, via the World Radio Network and via the Internet. Interestingly, broadcasts with strong signals targeted at Europe continue. Many major international broadcasters no longer target shortwave broadcasts at Europe, including the Cold War rivals of Radio Moscow: the Voice of America and BBC World Service (China Radio International continues, and has expanded, short wave broadcasts to Europe).

Radio Moscow's and Voice of Russia's shortwave (SW) transmission network has never been equalled in its transmission power, directivity and reach. During the station's peak in the 1980s the same programmes could often be heard on anything up to forty frequencies on the (heavily overcrowded) shortwave bands although the station never published its complete or accurate time/frequency schedule. It is unclear whether the station's staff knew what freqencies it was broadcasting on.

The transmission network consisted of at least 30 high-power transmission sites (West to East, with first transmission dates):

  • Wachenbrunn, East Germany (1000 kW carrier power, MW)
  • Bolshakovo (2500 kW carrier power, MW)
  • Saint Petersburg (1961) [16 × 200 kW SW]
  • Moscow (5 known high-power SW transmission sites)
  • Krasnodar (1967) [8 × 100 kW SW, 8 × 500 kW SW]
  • Volgograd
  • Kamo, Armenia (site ceded to Armenia, but operated by RMOC)
  • Samara [6 × 250 kW SW, 3 × 200 kW SW, 7 × 100 kW SW]
  • Yekaterinburg [9 × 100 kW SW]
  • Tashkent (1000 kW carrier power?)
  • Dushanbe (1000 kW carrier power)
  • Omsk
  • Novosibirsk (1956) [17 × 100 kW SW, but 1000 kW carrier power capable]
  • Irkutsk (Angarsk, 1971) [2 × 100 kW, 4 × 250 kW SW, 8 × 500-kW)
  • Chita
  • Yakutsk
  • Vladivostok (1000 kW carrier power?)
  • Komsomolsk-on-Amur
  • Petropavlovsk-Magadan (1000 kW carrier power?)
  • Havana, Cuba at one time in 1980, Radio Moscow had transmissions on the Medium Wave broadcast on 600 kHz from Cuba which reached the Caribbean islands and US State of Florida

Voice of Russia broadcast in short, medium and longwave formats, in DAB+, DRM, HD-Radio, as well as through cable, satellite transmission and in mobile networks. VOR’s Internet coverage comes in as many as 38 languages

Voice of Russia announced on 1 July 2004, the successful implementation, and planned expansion, of its DRM broadcasts on short-wave and medium-wave. In September 2009 the Russian State Commission for Radio Frequencies, the national regulator of broadcasting, has decided on the DRM has the standard for mediumwave and shortwave services.

Starting in March 2013, VOR has been broadcasting in the digital HD Radio format in Washington and Chicago, and in Switzerland using its digital DAB+ multiplex.

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