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»If you Have a Radio, You are Never Alone – You can Always Find a Friend in a Radio.«

Engineer Marij Osana, the leading expert on telegraph and telephone in the Kingdom of SHS and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, who in 1924 constructed the first radio transmitter, is nowadays considered as the pioneer of Slovenian radio. He was also a member of the Educational Association in Ljubljana, where he was the head of its radio section. Osana's experiments with radio broadcasting soon led to the launching of the first radio station in Slovenia, Radio Ljubljana. The official ceremony accompanying the launching of Radio Ljubljana was held at the Grand Hotel Union Hall on October 28, 1928. The solemn event is thoroughly documented in the chronicle of the Educational Association.

Slovenia's First Radio Station Broadcasting from the Offices of the Educational Association in Ljubljana

Radio is a cheap and popular medium, as well as one of the world’s most important technological inventions. Its invention at the end of the 19th century caused a technological leap and shaped a new form of communication, which eventually changed the image of the world as we knew it and had a profound effect on the way people lived their lives. It could reach the most remote areas and the most marginalized groups of people, and could broadcast even when other media failed, like for example in cases of emergency or in the wake of natural disasters. This is why Unesco proclaimed February 13 the World Radio Day, commemorating the day when UN Radio began its first broadcast in 1946.

In Slovenia, a pioneer in the field of radio was Marij Osana, an engineer and a telegraph and telephone leading expert in the Kingdom of SHS and Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Among his many achievements, he was also the man who made the first radio transmitter in 1924. On May 8, 1925, he and his radio amateur colleagues broadcasted a programme from Ljubljana, which could be heard as far as Bled, and on January 26, 1926, he organized the first radio broadcasting of a concert performed by Glasbena matica Music Society. He was also a member of the Educational Association in Ljubljana, which was a Catholic alliance active in the general field of education and culture. Educational Association in Ljubljana was established in 1923 as a successor of the Slovenian Social-Christian Alliance in Carniola. It operated in sections (musical, drama and gymnastic section, section for professional lessons) and organized for its members various lectures, courses, seminars, cinematographic screenings, exhibitions and festive events, all with the purpose of raising the level of general education and cultural awareness. It was the umbrella organization for a number of other organizations and associations, such as the Choral Association, the anti-alcoholic movement Sveta vojska (the Holy Army), theatre society Ljudski oder (People’s stage), Slovenian Christian Women’s Alliance, and the national defence association Slovenska straža (Slovenian Guard). The Educational Association also established the largest city (people’s) library in Ljubljana, which held 12,800 books of various content. In 1929, the association included 232 cultural and educational societies with 15,000 members.

Several volumes of the association’s chronicles for the period between 1922 and 1938 have been preserved among the archival records in the archival fonds of the Educational Association in Ljubljana. These chronicles contain records of all the important events that took place during the association’s operation (minutes of the general meetings and reports on the work of the association and its sections). They contain newspaper clippings on important events, photos from trips, meetings, courses, events and celebrations. Among the photos preserved in the chronicle for the years between 1922 and 1930 were two photos of the interior of the first Slovenian radio station, the list of attendees at its grand opening, and newspaper clippings of the speeches delivered at the opening by the vice-president Lovro Sušnik and the honorary speaker Fran Saleški Finžgar.

From 1925 on, one of the sections operating within the Educational Association was also the radio section. The driving force behind it was Marij Osana, an engineer whose experiments in radio broadcasting soon led to the launch of the first Slovenian radio station, called Radio Ljubljana. First, they needed to put up radio transmitter. Osana chose the location near the town of Domžale based on years-long testing and measurements. On August 21, 1927, an agreement on the putting up of the transmitter was reached between the Post and Telegraph Directorate, the municipality of Domžale and the owners of the land. The Domžale municipality agreed to the conditions of the agreement without making any additional demands, but consent of land owners was obtained only when the investors agreed to pay a yearly compensation for the loss of crops on their land, compensation for any potential damage of their existing crops, and the right to irrigate their land. The transmitter, which broadcasted on a wavelength of 566 metres with a power of 2.5 kW, began its trial operation on September 1, 1928.

The actual official ceremony accompanying the launching of Radio Ljubljana took place at the Grand Hotel Union Hall in Ljubljana on October 28, 1928, on the eve of the 10th anniversary of Austro-Hungary’s disintegration. Among those attending the solemn event were some of the most prominent representatives of the then political, cultural, religious, military and economic life; the great governors of Ljubljana and Maribor Province, the mayor and vice-mayor of Ljubljana, five foreign consuls, prince-bishop of Ljubljana, rector of the University of Ljubljana, head of Drama and Opera House, president of Glasbena matica Music Society, representatives of associations, unions, army, banks and loan banks, as well as several economists. The radio station was on behalf of the Ministry of Post solemnly opened by the envoy of the king’s government Žika Pavlović and there was a performance by the Choral Association. The honorary speaker at the opening was Fran Saleški Finžgar. In his speech he referred to the connection between the first written Slovene words recorded in the manuscript Brižinski spomeniki, the first Slovene words printed in the book by Primož Trubar, and the new acquisition, the radio station, which was expected to carry Slovene words across all borders. There was a general enthusiasm about the launching of the radio station, even if, according to dr. Jakob Mohorič, the president of the Educational Association, the setting up of the station was a financial challenge for the association.

At first, Radio Ljubljana had only 3606 subscribers, but by 1928, their number had risen to 16,514. The core of the programme was music (records and tone films, operas and operettas, , classical, folk and dance music), then there were the so-called special broadcastings and the news, educational lectures, dramas, comedies, recitations and prose, social lectures, foreign language courses, trade news, masses, shows for women and children, gym, school lessons, and weather forecasts. In 1937, Radio Ljubljana had a total of 2856 hours of broadcasting.

Radio as a medium has changed considerably during the last century, mainly as far as technology and content is concerned, and yet its primary goal remains the same; to entertain and inform its listeners.

Danijela Juričić Čargo