The story of Radio Tirana- the first radio station

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 which pronounced the following phrase: “Ju felt Tirana” (English: This is Tirana speaking ). This moment officially marked the first broadcast of Radio Tirana.
During the Italian invasion, after April 7, 1939, this radio was used to call the people to take the weapons and to protect the country. It continues 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 control of the Radio Tirana. During that time it become 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 is over and the people felt this through the optimism spread by Radio Tirana.

Radio Tirana in the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania

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. In 1959, Radio Tirana’s director, Petro Kita, founded the first Experimental Television Center to provide the basis for the latter National Albanian Television, TVSH. The first test programme was held on 29 April 1960, at 6:00 pm and was introduced by the journalist Stoli Beli. The official launch was set for 1 May 1960. Children’s movies and then adults’ programs were broadcasted three times a week for about one hour. Television programs were regularly launched in 1971 and on.

During Albania’s alliance with China in the 1960s and 1970s, Radio Tirana had to distinguish between being anti-West and 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, while 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 You To Albania, Leafing Through Our Listeners’ Letters, Culture and Art in Socialist Albania, and The Song of Our Life. Radio Tirana also presented irregular 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 Internationale” at the end of each broadcast was abandoned.

Radio Tirana as a cultural icon

Radio Tirana is widely seen as a symbol representing Albanian culture worldwide. Through its educational, cultural, and informative programs broadcast nationally and internationally, Radio Tirana has played a major role in transmitting Albanian people’s cultural values. The station served as the first academy of the Albanian literal language, and in its archive, interesting historical artifacts can be found, such as a speech made by Fan Stilian Noli or the voice of Albanian arts’ ambassador, Alexander Moissi. Furthermore, it served as a venue where emerging Albanian artists showcased their talents, later becoming icons. The voices of Tefta Tashko-Koço, Marije Kraja, Kristaq Koço, Viktori Xhaçka, and many others were first heard in the station’s studios. In addition, Albanian personalities such as renowned actor Reshat Arbana, singer Vaçe Zela and Dr. Sulçebeg hosted the most popular programs.
Even though many private radios have opened in Tirana so far, the name Radio Tirana is still very popular and lovable by the public.

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