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RTL Ends Longwave Service

On Jan. 1, the French broadcaster's 234 kHz channel went dark

Radio Luxembourg in its early days at the 1937 International Exhibition of Arts and Techniques in Paris. (Photo by Thérèse Bonney, used under a Creative Commons 4.0 license.)

On 234 kHz, the new year rang in with static, not bells or fireworks. As had been announced in October, French broadcaster RTL switched off its longwave broadcasts on January 1, 2023.

Long-time RTL presenter Georges Lang marked the occasion with a bittersweet tweet: “Voilà, c’est fini… Goodbye good old Long Waves, you did a good job for a so long time. You belong now to the history of Radio-Luxembourg and RTL.”

Groupe M6, which owns the station, noted that maintaining longwave broadcasts from the Beidweiler, Luxembourg, transmission site consumed about 6,000 megawatt-hours of electricity each year, roughly equal to the average annual energy consumption of 3,000 French people.

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Listenership to the longwave service was “minimal,” according to RTL, as most modern receivers do not tune the band. RTL encouraged listeners to switch to using the station’s FM, DAB, or digital streams.

RTL had operated on longwave since 1933, broadcasting until 1966 as Radio Luxembourg from transmitters in Junglinster, Luxembourg. In 1966, it rebranded as RTL, and in 1972 the station began broadcasting from a new site at Beidweiler.

Since 2019, Luxembourgish energy company Enovos has worked with RTL Group, which owns the two transmission sites, to install large-scale solar generation facilities at Junglinster and Beiweiler. In October, Broadcasting Center Europe Marketing Manager Laurent Seve told Radio World that the 7.1-acre Beiweiler site will be full decommissioned, its towers dismantled, and solar generation capabilities “progressively extended.”

The news program RTL 5 Minutes posted a video report (in French) on the closure that includes images from the history of Radio Luxembourg/RTL.