Long Wave broadcasting is carried out by stations operating between 153 and 279 KiloHertz,  i.e. wavelengths that are greater than 1,000 Metres.

These wavelengths travel very long distances and generally use much higher power than medium wave, or FM and DAB. Typical power levels are 500 KiloWatts, though some stations transmit with up to 2 MegaWatts (two million watts).  Coverage 'per kilowatt' is much better on Long Wave than a similar powered transitter on the medium wave band, so it is favoured for wide area coverage.

The band is mainly used in Europe, the ITU's region 1, although not exclusively. Many Middle East and North African countries use the band, or have unexploited allocations.

It's often said to be an obsolete band, but this is not true as. Not only do millions listen to Long Wave stations every day, but there are plans to increase the number of Long Wave Radio stations.

Future of Long Wave

The question is often asked whether there would be an audence for a new Long Wave radio station covering the UK today?

First, its certain that there COULD be an audience as there are still well over 60 million long wave radios still in use - rather more than there are DAB radios. Long Wave signals can pervade every part of the UK with just a few blackspots in city centres where the interference levels (the noise floor) spoil reception. 

The big question is surely: "is there likely to be an appetite from listeners for a new radio service that cannot be had elsewhere?" We would answer with another question: "Can a radio station produce a programme format that will attract listeners?"
Radio stations have proved many times in the past, that when it comes to radio, CONTENT is always KING.

Long Wave

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The total electrical LOAD of an AM transmitter will be much more than the often used 'carrier power' of the transmitter.  Around 2.2 times more energy is needed if the transitter is capable of moduating to 100%, as most modern units are.

The cost of electricity varies around the world, from 2 pence per kilowatt hour up to 27p, however the average is of the order of 10p per Kilowatt-hour.  Multiplying this by the total load will give you an hourly cost for the energy.

Additionally, any operator must factor in the cost of maintenance, licence fees, and the programming costs such as presenters and music copyright.

A debate on the RNI Forum into cost of  Long Wave transmission began after RTE, the state broadcaster in Ireland, announced that it would close down 252 KHz at the end of 2015.  The 252 LW transmitter carries RTE Radio 1, which  is partially replicated on FM and DAB in Eire.

Long wave radio DJ Charlie Wolf
Long Wave Transmitter station building in Sweden

The original Atlantic 252 transmitter was a pair of 300 Kilowatt units made by Continental of Dallas, feeding a single triangular tower over 800 feet tall.  The transmitter was replaced in 2007 by a single 300 Kilowatt TRAM unit from Telefunken, their sister company in Berlin. It's capable of DRM mode, but this is not used at the moment.

The station was set up by CLT, the owner of Radio Luxembourg, and RTE, the state broadcaster in Ireland, in the late 1980s after radio entrepreneur Chris Cary set up an unlicensed station to exploit the unused Irish Long Wave allocation.

Even using low power his experiment was widely heard and the Irish Government decided to thwart his initiative by leasing the frequency to CLT, to bring the frequency into use. Their original Radio Tara project became Atlantic 252, launching in 1989. Its target audience was the entire British Isles, with a good signal across the UK, except in a few city centres. Atlantic 252 attracted an audience of over 4 million at its peak, but format alterations lost most of that. Improvements to FM reception and many new stations in the UK eroded Atlantic's competitive edge and audience ratings.

The facility was bought in 2002 by Team Talk for a sports news station with studios in Leeds. It spent £9.5 million on the launch and in its first quarter had an audience  of around half a million. TeamTalk 252 closed when its owners sold it to another buyer, the online gambling operator, UKBetting.com

They were more interested in the other assets than radio. TeamTalk closed down on 31st July 2002 since when the transmitters have relayed the Irish state's  RTE 1.
The station also has about half a million listeners in the Irish diaspora in the UK who rely on the station for a link to home. The transmitter was upgraded to new equipment in 2007, but like most other state broadcasters they don't have much responsibility when it comes to spending taxpayers' money! 

Swedish station at Motala,
now only rarely on the air.


(Bold indicates those still transmitteing in 2016)

Freq Name Transmitter Site Power (Watts)
153 Alger Chaine 1 Bechar 2000
153 Romania Actualitata Brasov Bod 1200
153 Deutschlandfunk Donebach 500
153 R Yunost Taldom 300
153 NRK Europakanalen Ingoy 100
162 France Inter Allouis 2000
162 TRT-4 Agri 1000
162 GRTK Taymyr / R Rossii Norilsk 150
162 Uzbek Radio 1 Tashkent 150
164 Mongolyn Radio Khonkhor 500
171 R Mediterranee Int'l Nador 2000
171 R Chechnya  Tbilisskaya 1200
171 R Rossii Bolshakovo 600
171 GRTK Tomsk / R Rossii Oyash 250
171 NVK Sakha / R Rossii Yakutsk 150
177 Deutschlandradio Kultur Zehlendorf 500
180 TRT-4 Polatli 1200
180 Chitinskaya GRTK / R Mayak Chita 150
180 GTRK  R RossiiPetropavlovsk 150
183 Europe 1    Felsberg 2000
189 GRTK Amur / R Rossii Belogorsk 1200
189 Rikisutvarpid Gufuskalar 300
189 R Rossii Blagoveshchensk 150
189 Gruzinsloye R Tbilisi 100
189 Sveriges R Motala 20
198 Alger Chaine 1 Ouargla 2000
198 BBC Radio 4 Droitwich 500
198 R Mayak Angarsk 250
198 Polskie R 1 Raszyn 200
198 R Mayak Kurovskaya 150
198 R Mayak Olgino 75000
198 BBC Radio 4 Droitwich 400
198 BBC Radio4 Westerglen 50
198 BBC Radio 4 Burghead 50
207 Deutschlandfunk Aholming 500
207 RTM A Azilal 400
207 R Mayak Tynda 150
207 Ukrainske Radio 1 Kyiv 125
207 Iceland Rikisutvarpid Eidar 100
209 Mongolyn Radio Dalanzadgad 75
209 Mongolyn Radio Choibalsan 75
209 Mongolyn Radio Ulgii 30
216 R Monte Carlo Roumoules 2,000
216 Azerbaijani Radio 1 Gyandza 500
216 R Rossii Birobidzhan 150
216 Tsentr Rossii / GRTK Krasnoyarskaya Krasnoyarsk 150
225 Polskie Radio P1 Solec Kujawski 1200
225 Khanty GRTK Yugoriya Surgut 1000
225 TRT-GAP / TRT-4 Van 600
227 Mongolyn Radio Altai 75
234 RTL Beidweiler 2000
234 GRTK Magadan / R Rossii Arman 1000
234 Radio 1 Gavar 500
234 Irkutskaya GRTK / R Rossii Angarsk 250
243 Primorskoe R / R Rossii Razdolnoe 500
243 TRT Erzurum R / TRT-4 Erzurum 200
243  DR  danmarks Radio   Kalundborg  50
252 Alger Chaine 1 & 3 Tipaza 1500
252 RTE Radio 1 Clarkstown 100
252 R Rossii Kazan 150
252  Algeria (2 trasnmitters)    1,500
252 Tajik Radio Dushanbe 150
261 R Rossii Taldom 2500
261 R Rossii / Chitinskaya GRTK Chita 150
261 R Horizont Vakarel 60
270 Cesky rozhlas 1 Topolna 650
270 R Slovo / GRTK Novosibirsk 150
279 GRTK Sakhalin / R Rossii Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk 1000
279 Belaruskaye Radio 1 Sasnovy 500
279 GRTK / R Rossii Ulan-Ude 150
279 GRTK / R Rossii Yekaterinburg 150
279 Turkmen Radio 1 Asgabat 150
279 GRTK Altay / R Rossii Gorno-Altaysk 50
Atlantic 252 Long Wave radio studio
Long Wave

RTL's 2MW LW transmitter on 236 kHz
Long Wave Radio

Cost of Long Wave transmission
It's reported recently that the cost of operating a Long Wave Transmitter is about £1800 a day. The estimate is certainly in the right ball park and it's a pretty straight forward calculation: You need to  take the carrier power, add in the modulating power, add in whatever the cooling cost and control circuitry is for the unit (and if its installed properly it will have huge air conditioning plant to keep it cool, and the air around it pure and dry.)
Long Wave