Berlin - FM radio / TV broadcasting facilities 

I love visiting broadcasting facilities - masts, towers and buildings. I enjoy going into places other people don't know about or are unable to appreciate - it requires specific knowledge.about broadcasting technology to truly appreciate the magnificence of a radio and tv transmitter antenna site. Therefore most of them are not included in pop travel guides, that's why I came up with with an idea for this unusual city guide:)

#1 - TV Tower at Alexanderplatz (Fernsehturm Alex)
Only the first object makes an exception of above rule and many not-DXers and radiofans are interested in in too. Nevertheless, it's the finest broadcasting object I've seen so far.
Television tower at Alexanderplatz became a landmark of Berlin, being almost 370m tall, it's distinct shape is visible from most of the city, and from many kilometers outside of it.

Berlin-Alexanderplatz is centermost location in German capital, the historic core of the city that used to be filled with ages-old churches and buildings. But it wouldn't stop communists to rise the giant (by 1965, the begin of building pocess, Alexander's Square belonged to Eastern Berlin). Today it's not a problem anymore - the surroundings have developed, and only the church by Alex's feet seems not to match the plan - but mind you, it was first there! Ok, more tourist-blah-blah you can find on Wikipedias: English and German.

Alex tower houses many high-power transmitters: 17 for analogue radio, 4 for digital radio and 9 for digital tv. The coverage is enormous - not only Berlin, but greater part of Brandenburg land enjoy the service. Transmissions can be received within 200km radius. Many stations broacasting from here easy get by tropo to my home, 530 km away. The FM stations are:
87,9 Star FM (1kW)
90,2 Radio Teddy (16kW)
91,4 Berliner Rundfunk (100kW)
93,6 Jam FM (2,4kW)
94,3 r.s.2 (25kW)
95,8 radio eins (100kW)
97,7 Deutschlandfunk (100kW)
98,8 Kiss FM (1kW)
99,7 Antenne Brandenburg (100kW)
100,6 Flux FM (12,6kW)
101,3 Klassik Radio (4kW)
101,9 Metropol FM (0,5kW)
102,6 Fritz (15kW)
103,4 Energy (8kW)
104,6 RTL (10kW)
105,5 SpreeRadio (5kW)
106,0 B2 (1kW)

There's a gift shop at the bottom, where you can find these:

Crappy plastic figures with shiny-disco-ball looked more like a parody of this remarkable monument. I laughed at them first, but eventually got myself a small silver figure (not included in the row above), made entire of steel at a different store and it looks lovely.

And finally, some views from atop of Alex. Well, not THE top (368m) but from the observation deck 204m above ground. Getting there costs 12 euro and some patience - buying a ticket won't lift you up instantly, depending on visitors number it may take up to 2 hours of queueing.
The air that day was not clear - there was quite a lot of steam making the pics slightly unsharp.

The view at Unter den Linden Street. Can you spot Branadenburger Tor? The huge green area is Tiergarten Park (Berlin's "Central Park") with Strasse den 17. Juni crossing it. But the most important features are visible on the horizon line. From right to left - the mast at Scholzplatz, Funkturm and -in the centre- former US-spy complex on Teufelsberg - Beware of them, because I'm gonna tell you more about them another time...

#2 - Schäferberg tower (Fernmeldeturm Schäferberg)

Next, we visit another tower, unknown to casual tourists, located quite far from the center, at southwestern verge of the city. But getting there is easy. Take S-Bahn (S-7) to Wansee Station and then hike 3kms up Konigstrasse. While walking, you might get the impression you left all buildings behind. That is true, the street will lead you into forests. And remember: the tower is visible from Wansee suburbs, but getting closer to it, the view gets obscured by the forest and hills. When you reach the highest hill along the street, go up the right slope to locate the tower - I almost passed it by.

Schäferberg tower served in the 70s/80s as a over-horizon link to Torfhaus (Harz) station, situated 190km away in West Germany. Among other services, it transmitted phonecalls to the West. Huge parabolic dishes and antenna arrays were used for the service. They were dismantled in the early 90s. More about, with some data facts of the tower on Wikipeadias:
Wikipage in English
Wikipage auf Deutsch

UKW FM stations:
90,7 MHz - "88vier" - 0,1kW pol. H, dir. east
94,8 MHz - BBC World Service - 4kW, pol. H, dir. NE-SW
107,5 MHz - BB Radio - 13kW - pol. H, non-directional

Both location and relatively moderate height of the tower didn't allow it become the main broadcasting centre for German capital. Today only 3 FM stations, 1 mediumwave broadcast, continuous filling service for digital television (DVB-T) and cell repeaters use the tower. So, the best days to Schäferberg are long gone.
Moreover, despite being placed in picturesque landscape and having multiple terraces, it was never adjusted for public. Which is a pity. I wonder what great view of Wansee and the city from above must be!

Main tower and lower steel tower to the left (now with cell service, but was a support to the huge dish).
Also: can you see MW wire antenna hanging vertically between the towers?

Top part of a MW DRM antenna with insulators

Berlin - Schaferberg tower (and smaller tower too!) - horizon panorama from Fernsehturm by Alexanderplatz

After visiting Schaeferberg and having some spare time, you might visit RBB (Radio & Television for Berlin and Brandenburg) headquaters in Potsdam. You only need to take S-7 from Wansee to next stop - Griebnitzsee or Babelsberg.

#3 - Scholzplatz mast
Scholplatz mast is secondary, after Alexanderplatz TV-Tower, broadcasting centre in Berlin. Built in 1963 as a substitute for never realised West Berlin TV-Tower. Should these plans worked out, Berlin would have two huge towers today.

DX-Travel info:
To get to the mast, take S-Bahn train to either Olympiastadio or Pichelsberg stations (the latter is the closer) and move south to Heerstrasse. Be careful - Scholzplatz itself is easy to overlook - it's like there's no square at all, only some additional parking space. Turn into small street by one of them - towards the mast, there's guidance to Jewish gaveyard. You will find your way, but the area is fenced, so no getting close.

Horizon panorama from TV-Tower at Alexanderplatz. Some intersting objects from right: Olympiastation (dark stripe below horizon), Scholzplatz mast (thin, very tall), Funkturm (top of it touchting the horizon) and most left - abandoned US radar base

All public stations that have roots in former SFB (Sender Freies Berlin - Free Berlin Broadcasting) still broadcast from the mast on their historic frequencies:
88,8 - Radio Berlin88,8 --- 80kW H
92,4 - kulturRADIO --- 80kW H
93,1 - infoRADIO --- 25kW H
96,3 - Funkhaus Europa --- 80kW H

There are also two commercial stations with lower power:
98,2 - Paradiso --- 8kW H
106,8- Jazz --- 2kW H

Parameters at Scholzplatz were not in accordance with initial international agreements - the broadcast antennas should be powered 10kW instead of 80kW and hung at a height of 100meters, not 200. The beams were directed east, of course because the mast was situated westerly of West Berlin, but at these parameters, whole East Berlin and huge part of DDR were within coverage.

#4 - Britz masts
My first ever FM-DX signal from Berlin I received back in 2004 (and still the best and easiest received) at my QTH near Warsaw was 89,6 MHz - formerly DeutschlandRadio Berlin, now DeutschlandRadio Kultur (D Kultur). The source is not so tall, 160m mast in Britz living district. Of course, during my stay in German capital, I couldn't skip visiting this place.

There are actually two masts at the site. The other one measures 146 meters and broadcasts DRM at 855kilos. It also should be said that 160m mast, apart from FM, serves as an antenna for analogue AM at 990kHz.
In the past Britz transmitter was main broadcasting station of RIAS, heavily jammed from East Berlin. As always, more historical data on Wikipedia.

Note: The masts are not this much close to eachother, it's just a matter of perspective.

possibly a SW-antenna?

Warning - approaching may cause heart pacemaker problems

Deutschland Radio coverage maps, as shown on the board by the gates

The future is not bright for the transmitter site at Britzer Damm 176. The 89,6 MHz will relocate to Television Tower by Alexanderplatz and reduce 100 to 20 kW. It's amazing that 100kW from Britz and not Alexanderplatz is the best signal from Berlin via troposcatter at my home 600km away, near Warsaw.
Plus, diminishing meaning of AM broadcasting is not in favor for Britz. Shortwave has already gone from here.

#5 low-power transmitters in Kreuzberg
Kreuzberg district post office building is a transmitter site of 4 low-power stations. Three of them are international radiostations of former occupants: american NPR (National Public Radio), french RFI (Radio France International) and Russkij Berlin. 88,4 is independent channel shared by couple of social and alternative culture services, with the most participation of Radio Alex.

The building is situated between Möckernbrücke and Hallesches Tor U-Bahn stations (surprisingly as for an underground stations, both are placed above ground).

Three first pics were taken viewed from west, the last one from eastern direction. Can you spot all 3 satellite dishes on the last photo? One of them is used by German family, one by Turkish and third is probably feeding NPR and RFI from satellite to broadcast on FM.

FM frequencies Berlin-Krezuberg info:
88,4 88vier --- 0,50kW, pol. H
96,7 RFI --- 0,50kW, pol. H
97,2 Russkij Berlin --- 0,10kW, pol. H
104,1 NPR --- 0,40kW, pol. H

And if you think these stations have no DX-opportunities you're wrong. With hi-end DX equipment and favourable propagation some of them were already received by Polish DXer, Konrad at 430+km [see his log info]

 #6 - Berliner Funkturm, RBB and DRadio headquaters
Last, but not least I'm gonna tell you about some buildings and tower that are no longer used for RTV broadcast, but they contribute the history and present of broadcasting in Berlin.

Writing earlier about the tower by Alexanderplatz I should have mentioned one important thing about its origins. It was built as an answer for West Berlin's Radiotower - "Funkturm", that was a landmark of the city since 1926. Communists just couldn't stand the view of it and the thought that city's most remarkable building is not situated on their teritory. So Alexanderplatz Tower is a child of jealousy and megalomania.
And pay attention to the names of both towers:
- Fernsehturm ("TV-Tower", although not only tv but most UKW radios are broadcast from it) and
- Funkturm (literally "Radiocast Tower", used today only by professional services - ie. police, taxi, and fire brigades). And the latter is the one i'd like to introduce to you today.

The weather that day was shitty, combined with observing terrace being closed, results with with these photos:

Yes! That was my thought too: the tower's shape reminds that of Eiffel Tower.
Funkturm is situated at Messe Berlin - Berlin Fair Area. Many Radio-fairs and exhibitions have been taking place there, showcasing newer and newer generations of Telefunkens and other radio units. Nowadays, world's biggest modern-electronics exhibition, IFA is held here annually. I hope most visitors are aware of the fact, that the tower above them used to have such great meaning to the development of German broadcasting.
RBB channel recently aired documentary about the tower. I hope they'll repeat it for you, and a 2 minute spoiler may be found here.
More info about Funkturm - as always on Wiki.

Passing the Funkturm by, it's worth to go for a walk along Masurenalee. You'll find a long building over there, with a description "Haus des Rundfunks" above the entrance, that gives a little retro-feel to it. And it's true - this was the first this big broadcasting house in Germany, used since 1931. I was only allowed to enter the ground floor with view to above etages - desigend like a patio, in art-deco style. Shame individual guests are not allowed further, nor taking pictures, because that room was just a small hint of what this huge building might hide inside - studios, offices, newsrooms, concert halls, rooms and more rooms. Radio Berlin 88,8, Kulturradio and Inforadio vom  rbb reside here.
The staff at the reception will answer your questions and hand you some informative booklets about the history and current events of this place.

Further along Masurenalee, there's another bulding that belongs to rbb - public broadcaster of Berlin and Brandernburg region. RBB television is produced here. It's tall, all modern and sadly, there's no sightseeing. Upon request, I was allowed to enter the ground floor but it turned out there was actually nothing interesting. By the reception you cand pick some booklets about rbb's tv & radio channles. I got like a hundred kilos of them. One of the leaflets advertised International Teletext Art Festival.

I really enjoy this sort of art and again I'm so impressed Germans have every niche so organised and so not-neglected (like in Poland).

Turning right, into Kaiserdamm, you will find rbb-giftshop with fancy memorabilia and fan items. How about rbb or radioeins mug? It's also available online.

Here's the view from Teufelsberg, a hill 2,5km away from the building I just described. From right to left: Funkturm, Alex (7km away), rbb-tv building. Haus des Rundfunks is midway between Funkturm and rbb headquaters, covered by trees here. But instead, a little to the left you can see Messe Berlin building.

All these objects are so close to eachother that you can have some additional time to teleport yourself to another house of public broadcasting in Berlin. Take an S-Bahn from Messe Nord to Innsbrucker Platz. Deutschlandradio building is situated 500m west of Innsbrucker Platz.
Most DeutschlandRadio Kultur and some programming of Deutschlandfunk is produced here. Formerly, it was headquaters of RIAS Radio - Rundfunk Im Amerikanischen Sektor, the radiostation with a very interesting history and programming. Neon-logo on the roof is a reminder of that time.

In a flat near RIAS-house I made my bandscan.

No comments :

Post a Comment