Offshore Echos Magazine

RADIO ANDORRA
A brief history

Published May 1981 in Offshore Echos Magazine by France Radio Club
by M. Kerslake and  F. Lhote.

On the 19th of August 1935, the principality of Andorra's Council, gave M. Bonaventure Vila, a 30 year concession to run an Andorran Radio station. M. Bonaventure Vila who held Andorran nationality, was acting for a group of catalans, but once the concession was signed he preferred to use French financial backing. The concession mentioned that a fee was payable to the Andorran Treasury and that if the concession was given up then the radio station would return to the custody of the principality of Andorra's national council.

In July 1936, Bonaventure Vila died, and his daughter Dolores Vila who was married to Stanislas Puiggros, a Spanish Industrist inherited the concession to the radio station.

On the 30th November 1937, a 30 year extension to the concession was obtained by Puiggros. At this time he was associated with Jacques Tremoulet who had been responsible for the setting up of a lot of private commercial radio stations in the South of France, like Radio Toulouse, Radio Agen and Radio Montpellier (which were all closed down after the 2nd World War).
Tremoulet agreed to help with the setting up and running of Radio Andorra. The French Minister of Post and Telecommunications was not too happy with the idea of a new radio station and said that France would not tolerate the operation of an Andorran Radio station. But in November 1938, Georges Bonnet then Foreign Minister, in the name of the French President Albert Lebrun gave French approval to the creation of a station of 60 kW power on medium wave and 1 kW on short wave. The Spanish co-principal, the Bishop Seo D'Urgel gave his approval on the 24th of November 1938. On the 8th of August 1939, Stanislas Puiggros did the first test transmission.

The transmitters and aerials were situated on the Pic d'Encamps (1500m). The transmissions were in French, Catalan and Castillan on 410 m and in the 30 m shortwave. The medium wave power at first was 35 kW. And the station's identification call was the now famous "Aqui Radio Andorra". Three weeks after the inaugural day, war started in France and the station closed down. The station was back on the air in February 1940. But in June 1940 the French programmes were suspended. The German authorities tried to take over control of the station, but Jacques Tremoulet was able to keep the station free.

At the end of the war, the french Government tried also to take over the station and everything started to go wrong for Jacques Tremoulet as other radio stations like Radio Toulouse were not allowed to recommence transmissions. Tremoulet was accused of collaboration with the Germans and he left the country for the safety of Spain. The French Government acting as co-prince of Andorra tried to put an end to the radio concession, but the Bishop of Urgel, the Spanish co-prince wrote to the French Government in 1945 saying he was not prepared to accept a single modification to the concession.

In 1945, Radio Information who were in charge of getting advertising for the radio station was closed down by the French Government. A new advertising agency "Toute la publicité" then took over, but they too were soon closed down. Then it was the turn of another French publicity agency (S.O.G.E.P.) in Paris whose banking operation was soon blocked by the French Government. Even the French/Andorran border was closed to stop recordings and other essential items being taken to the Andorran radio station. In 1948 the French Government started to Jam the station using a Jamming transmitter situated within the French territory near Bordeaux. Following massive protests by a lot of people, the French government argued that Radio Andorra had no legal existence and was using a non allocated frequency and was also interfering with French security transmissions!!! In 1949 Jacques Tremoulet took the French Government to court and he got an order against the Government to stop Jamming and to reopen the border to Radio Andorra personnel. So the French Government was unable to stop Radio Andorra transmitting.

Therefore they planned to open another radio station within Andorra's territory. For that they gave the task to SOFIRAD to obtain a concession to create another commercial radio station called ANDORRADIO.
Pressure against Radio Andorra' s staff continued however, including an attempt to close the station down for immoral advertising.  In 1953 the border was even totally closed to all citizens of Andorra.
In 1958 when General De Gaulle was in charge of the Presidency of France, he gave a direct order that everything possible must be done to get the rival station Andorradio on the air. In 1959 despite the opposition of Spain and Andorra, ANDORRADIO came on the air with 12 hours of programmes a day. Then in 1961 the spanish Co-prince, the bishop of Urgel decided to accept the two radio stations.
1 -Radio Andorra , controlled by the spanish Co-Prince, and
2 -Andorradio later becoming Radio Des Vallées and finally Sud Radio, controlled by the French Co-Prince.
The new concession for Andorradio was signed for 20 years and maximum power was to be 900 kW for both stations. (In fact Radio Andorra was not able to get this power because a French company which was using land in the area near to the transmitters said they did not want a new aerial nearby -another act certainly organised by the French Government
behind the scenes). The power of Radio Andorra at present is 300 kilowatts.

PROGRAMMING

A lot of music and advertisements are played. And after the close of all commercial private stations in France in 1945 a lot of people in the south of France started to tune to Radio Andorra. A lot of sponsored programmes mainly from Radio Luxembourg started to be heard on Radio Andorra. The frequency of Radio Andorra is now 428 metres (in the 50's it was 300 m for a time). Advertisements were organised by PUBLI-ONDES until 1975 when Radio Andorra started to do it themselves. In 1975 Gilles Marquet was named managing director.

Historical information is taken from "Private Radios, Pirate Radios" by F. Tenot.

RECENT NEWS (as of May 1981)

The latest news from Andorra is that both Sud Radio and Radio Andorra closed down on April 2nd following a decision made by the General Council of the Valley (The Andorran Parliament) not to renew the concession given in 1961 to the two radio stations. The Andorran people apparently want to take over the radio equipment with the object of creating a truly local radio station for the Catalan people.

Radio Andorra which is controlled by the Spanish co-prince seems to have accepted this decision, but it restarted broadcasts on the 8th of April, and will continue to do so until a definite decision is made. Sud Radio closed down only for one hour, thus giving the appearance of a technical breakdown - a direct connection between the Sud Radio's studios in Toulouse was made with the transmitter in Andorra, thus avoiding the Andorran relay normally used. This of course is quite illegal but there is little chance of an attempt to close down the station because it reaches one and a half million people in the south of France, and with the elections in progress there would be political repercussions if any move was made against the station.

The "Radio War" is fast becoming a political issue in Andorra because the Andorran people are becoming nervous about the threat from Spain and France to their independence and freedom. They do not want to become a Spanish or French colony. In a few years time Andorra will have its own TV satellite but as the overall rulers of Andorra are V. Giscard d'Estaing and the Bishop of Urgel, these two people are thinking of using the 5 channels to be made available for their own countries interests! As far as radio is concerned, two things can happen:
-1. Seals can be put on the transmitting equipment of both Radio Andorra and Sud Radio to stop them from broadcasting or
-2. The concession is renewed.
The two radio stations have brought an action against the Andorran Parliament who now have six months in which to make a decision. O.E.F. will of course keep its readers informed of the situation in Andorra in future issues.

(c) Offshore Echos France, May 1981, France Radio Club
Official web site : www.offshoreechos.com
 

Note : On March 2, 1969 at midnight, Radio Andorra transmitted a Radio Caroline revival hour.
See some info here : http://www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes/DATABASES/CAR/car05.html
 
The following was read under  http://www.northernstar.no/origrc.htm
The following is a transcript of an interview(transcribed by KIERAN MURRAY) which took place in the Radio Carousel(AM 1386 kcs) Studios in Navan, County Meath, Eire, on Tuesday 11th May 1982.  The programme presenter was Pauric Welsh, and the guest DAFFY DON  ALLEN
""
P.W:   Now, Don, when you were finally let off the ship on March the eighth, where did you go from there?

Don: Well, I was out of work in radio for exactly a year.  In that period, I did, I think, one show, which will I remembered by a lot of people.  It was called the CAROLINE REVIVAL HOUR and this was on RADIO ANDORRA, which I recorded in a Paris studio.  This went on over the airwaves of Andorra, with the intention that they were going to do a lot of this, but the reception in England, unfortunately, was not as good as they had hoped it would be.  It got press coverage. things like this.  I had to quickly do that before I took up my position as Programme Controller of Manx Radio.  I arrived there a year after the day I stepped off Caroline.  That's when I started working for a living. ""

Recording    >> HERE <<<   (source : france radio club)


 
1963 - Georges Maltot 
on Radio Andorra
1965 Georges Maltot with Sacha Distel 
and Petula Clark
1962 - Georges Maltot 
with Lydia Merino
    (Thanks to Georges Maltot for photos - 2005)

Informations or documents about Radio Andorra welcome at : eric.tiffon@freesbee.fr

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