YLE  Capital FM   brought   foreign language international
news  to the FM dial  in Finland

Capital FM coverage areas in 2001

The  foreign language radio output   at the time when  the two DAB services  were available  as well.
Below, the coverage  areas on the FM dial in 2001. The logo below was used at the time when  Capital FM
was aired on 103.7 MHz with a good transmitter strength. However, in 1998 Yle assigned the frequency
for simulcasting the newly introduced DAB radio channels and  Capital FM was transferred to 97.6 MHz
with a lower power and poorer antenna strength at the Espoo transmitter site.

In Mid-November 1991   YLE  Radio Finland,  the international  radio  service of YLE, launched  a  domestic  station  based  on  relays  of  leading international broadcasters  as well as  its own  output, primarily  produced for listeners  abroad.   Formal (legal)   restrictions  against being available domestically  had never  existed, but  due to the propagation situation  YLE  Radio Finland  had no domestic  audiences  until   the mid 70s.  In 1977   air time had  been given on two domestic  MW stations  and in 1978  a low powered  FM  was  started  in Helsinki, for  relay the  foreign language  segments of  YLE  Radio Finland.  While  the  medium wave  stations  were  intended to be  listened  in neighbouring countries,  the  FM  was  rather acquired  as a platform for control. Members of the  parliamentary  control body could listen and find out what the  external  service  was  doing.

It was that "control FM"  that  was  developed  first  as a  temporary  foreign language  transmitter  with  special extended  YLE  coverage  of  events such as  the 10th anniversary of the Helsinki Summit in 1985 - with president Ford  returning to Helsinki for the occasion - and  the  Helsinki Summit  in 1990 between  George Bush and  Michail Gorbachov.

With  placement on local stations becoming  very common, the  idea  was  developed  in the YLE  external service to fill in the gaps  in the  schedule  with  foreign programming.  The BBC  (Finnish  Section)  had  become  a  part of  the  format of many Finnish commercial stations, and the same could be applied to the external service FM, in English.  However,  YLE  was not prepared to pay for any programming. 

I took up the plan - with emphasis on our inability to pay -  at a meeting of broadcasters hosted by  CBC in Hamilton (Ont).  And  it appeared to be feasible.  The plan was given  a go-ahead by YLE Board level  in  late summer  1991 - and  following the fast installation of  satellite receivers  and  a somewhat elementary automation system,  the  service  was started in November 1991.

The first three programme providers    were the BBC World  Service,  Deutsche Welle (in German)  and  VOA  Europe.  Radio France Internationale  in French was added  in early 1992. VOA Europe was also swapped  for the  VOA  Worldwide  English  channel.   VOA Europe  was part of the  programming of many commercial stations in Finland at the time and  the more  serious  Worldwide  English  was considered more appropriate.

YLE  was  apparently the first   non-AFN  station to use  US public  radio in Europe  as  FM  placement.   The program was the  CSpan  Weekly  Radio  Journal, a production by Beth Talesman for the  CSpan audio networks.  The feed  comprised a telephone  line  from WAMU,  but it was better than nothing.  YLE  also participated in the  two week trial  run of  NPR in Europe and started using NPR when the  service became  regular.  VOA  remained  as part of the Capital FM until - in 2001 - they themselves  told  YLE   the  service was being reduced and was no longer available.

The  English output on the Capital FM  expanded  later  to include  ABC  Radio Australia and  the South African  SABC, both via the World Radio Network in London.

Taken the fact that many  Finnish  pensioners  had started spending winter seasons  in Spain and Portugal,  and having picked up some of the language at least,  were keen on keeping abreast with news down there also while  in Finland,  an effort was made  to bring in Spanish and Portuguese.    The Spanish  news channel, RNE Todo Noticias  started in the mid 90s, but the Portuguese  Radio was not interested.   From Spain  YLE wanted  specifically the  domestic  news  network, not the  external service.  The Finnish listeners would be familiar  with the  domestic news network, not with the  external  service.  Efforts to include  RAI   were not successful, but  as an alternative  the Vatican Radio in Italian  was obtained, with their  weekday  radio journal. For some years   China  Radio International  (in English) was heard, available via  WRN. Later  Nordic languages, Danish and  Norwegian were  added, from the national broadcasters  NRK and DR.

The  FM  service  had  a low power frequency in Helsinki.  For some years in the mid-90s   parts of the schedule  were heard also over stations  in Turku, Tampere, Lahti and  Kuopio and  for a shorter period Jyväskylä. 

With the introduction of  DAB in Finland,  two additional  networks  were created  with  complementing programming  and  some stations that were not heard in the main Capital FM, such as  Voice of  Russia in Russian.  The BBC  in Russian was added and later their news in Russian became  part of the YLE Russian output heard domestically.    One of the alternative  DAB services  was all in English, another  all in non-English foreign languages. The  DAB networks were initially available in the Helsinki area, but were intended to be widened  later.  DAB, however, was called off  for lack of  receivers and popularity. See the schedules  below.

In 2005  the name of the station was changed into  YLE  Mondo.   That  name had already been used for one of the  DAB special networks.   It became available later in the whole country  as a radio channel attached to digital television, DVB-T.  End  of June 2016  YLE ceased airing radio as part of  DVB-T, and accordingly  also discontinued  the national availability of YLE Mondo.  Once again, the station became  "Helsinki only", on 97.6 MHz (cable 107.3 MHz).

The  foreign language  services  of  YLE  Radio Finland  had  reassigned  in 1998  to be primarily  serving the domestic  audience  though continuing to be available  internationally.  This meant that  early morning  broadcasts  were created - while the traditional evening times - more suitable for  Western European listeners, for example, were abandoned.   The English half hour, for example, was now available  at 7.30 am and 9.30 am  Finnish time, with a morning flavor.   The block was  rerun during the day for  Asia and North America.

In 2002  YLE  Radio Finland production in English, German and French was discontinued, while  Russian remained.   The news unit of  YLE  television had started producing news for TV some years earlier  and  took over  producing news for  radio  as well.

In recent years  some  broadcasters have cancelled their  availability mainly due to changes in their operations.  The  Canadian CBC  and  ABC Radio Australia pulled out  in 2012.  The  decision by Deutsche Welle  to close down its German language radio channel almost  left  the station without  German output.  Contacts within the German public radio system  and active  interest shown at Yle  resulted  in NDR (Norddeutsche  Rundfunk)  making  its  radio news channel in German available  for placement on Yle. 

A recent  addition was as well the airing of the 6 pm main news  of  Estonian  radio  on  Yle Mondo.

Capital  FM  and  Yle Mondo were  domestic  services  of  the international radio  unit  Radio Finland.  In 2006  Radio Finland  was merged administratively  with a domestic all spoken word  channel  Yle Puhe (formerly  Radio Peili) that also became  responsible for the  domestic  foreign language FM. 

In 2013   the domestic Finnish language network for cultural programming and classical music YLE Radio 1  became  the  administrative  home  of  Yle Mondo.

With the introduction of  digital television in Finland (DVB-T)  the channel  became  available  all through Finland  as a  radio channel attached to digital television. 

The latest phase in the life and times of the station sees it back  in Helsinki only.  From July 2016  Yle  no longer offers  radio as part of the digital television distribution.  Thus,  Yle Mondo (ex Capital FM)  is  again  available in the  Helsinki  area only  on 97.6 MHz  (107.3 MHz on cable).   The availability of  cable is now  vitally important  as the transmitter strength of Yle Mondo is low and  accordingly  audibility is poor in parts of the Helsinki metroplex  area.

Below, the schedules  of the  time when two digital DAB  channels  were offered  and  Capital FM  was a selection from that output. And further down  the coverage areas of  Capital FM  as a VHF service in 2001. Current schedule information  is  available  at, www.yle.fi/mondo.

YLE Radio Finland domestic schedule in the late 90s.
The  foreign language radio output   at the time when  the two DAB services  were available  as well. Below, the
coverage  areas on the FM dial in 2001. The map does not include the transmitter in Jyväskylä.

Capital FM availability as a VHF service 2001.