• February 3, 2015
  • 96

The Polish Radio has been broadcasting for 90 years

On the 21st of February 1925, the Polish Society of Radio Engineering (in Polish: Polskie Towarzystwo Radiotechniczne – PTR) broadcast the first official radio programme. This event is considered the beginning of public radio in Poland. The Polish Radio in Vilnius was as the fifth radio station in Poland. It started to broadcast at the end of 1927, being a kind of an experiment. The official opening and blessing of the radio station took place on the 15th of January 1928. The celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Polish public radio will be commenced on the 3rd of February in Warsaw. This celebration is held under the patronage of President Bronisław Komorowski.

The Polish Society of Radio Engineering started preparations for running the experimental radio station in September 1924. Then, there were already active radio stations in other countries. The first radio broadcasts ever were carried out by Americans in 1920. Two years later, the first radio programmes were heard by the citizens of the Soviet Union, France and the United Kingdom. In 1923, the first radio broadcasts were carried out in Germany and Czechoslovakia. ‘Then, broadcasts were very modest. Every day we broadcast only for two hours, although we already had the radio orchestra of Mr Adamus. I thought also about giving talks, for example about the Polish history. Moreover, I had to find artists who would sing, also play the piano and the violin, so I visited many places, observed many concerts and listened if one’s voice is appropriate to the radio. Then, it was considered that only few voices cooperate well with a microphone’, reminded Mikołaj Alojzy Kaszy, one of the founders of the Polish Society of Radio Engineering.

At the beginning, the Polish Radio broadcast a lot of music. Then, politicians did not realise how a powerful medium radio can be in their activity. However, a speech of Marshal Józef Piłsudski was found in the archive of the Polish Radio. In his speech, Piłsudski said: ‘Dear Ladies and Gentlemen! A man seems to rule over forces of nature; forces not made by his hand on this earth full of sorrow. A man involves them in his work as he harnesses oxen. So water makes wheels spin, fire keeps men warm; however, there is one force which is not divine, but humane, and this may be why a man respects it so little. This force is work, the work of human brains, the work of human hearts and the work of human muscles.’

In August 1925, the Polish Radio company obtained a concession for broadcasting all over Poland for 20 years. The company took over the radio station of the Polish Society of Radio Engineering. Since the very beginning, the board of the company focused also on the development of regional branches. The first local radio was constituted in Kraków, the next branches  were created in Poznań, Katowice, Vilnius and Lviv.

The Polish Radio Wilno (Vilnius) started broadcasting on the 15th of January 1928. It was considered one of the best radio stations in Poland. It was the first one to broadcast theatre plays. Moreover, the most notable figures of Vilnius performed in this radio. Many young poets also took part in the radio programmes: Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński, Teodor Bujnicki, Czesław Miłosz, Józef Maśliński, Jerzy Zagórski. Witold Hulewicz became the first programme director of the radio in Vilnius. Since the very beginning, the Vilnius radio broadcast speeches, discussions, concerts and news in Lithuanian and Belarussian. The stories by ‘Ciotka Albionwa’, ‘Wincuk Markoty’ and ‘Adwerdka’ were famous programmes of the radio, announced by the jingle of the Polish Radio Wilno – interrupted cuckooing. ‘110 Środa Literacka’ (in English: ‘110 Literary Wednesday’) began a series of programmes dedicated to Adam Mickiewicz, a Polish national poet. These programmes were aired on the first Wednesday of a month and they were broadcast all over the country. The last programme of the Polish Radio Wilno was aired on the 16th of September 1939.

On the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Polish Radio, there will be held the conference entitled ’90 years of the Polish Radio. Heritage and prospects.’ (in Polish: “90 lat Polskiego Radia. Dorobek i perspektywy”). The participants of this symposium will elaborate on the role of the Polish Radio before and after the Second World War, before television, and in the age of private radio stationsand Internet. The symposium in the main office of the Polish radio in Warsaw will commence the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the public radio in Poland.

Translated by Joanna Stępińska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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