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Media Network Vintage Vault 2018-2019


March 2018 - A message from Jonathan Marks

Welcome. I'm Jonathan Marks. If this is the first time you've visited the vault, then I'm glad you dropped by! There are over 485 editions of Media Network, representing about half the episodes that we made and broadcast from Hilversum.

As you may know, I currently work with all kinds of high-tech scale-ups in many parts of Europe, but especially in the Eindhoven and Enschede regions of the Netherlands. I'm particularly fascinated because this country is where international broadcasting started in Europe and where the long-range properties of shortwave radio were first discovered in 1926/1927.


Reliving Mainstream broadcast heritage

In early February 2010, I began an online experiment here on Libsyn with podcasting to understand how the distribution system works and see whether we could rebuild an audience. We wanted to recreate a place to listen to vintage editions of the Media Network programme as broadcast on short-wave by Radio Netherlands in the period 1981-2000. It is over 35 years since the Media Network was launched as the name of the media show on Radio Netherlands, building on the rich heritage of programmes that went before it.

We ran on the shortwave wireless from May 7th 1981 until the end of October 2000 with more than 1000 editions of the show. Many of the features are gradually making their way onto this website as a celebration of international broadcasting's second Golden Age.

Radio Netherlands no longer exists as a radio station in English in the way that we knew it. (They signed off at the end of June 2012 as documented on this site). The RN Classical Music station was around for a short while after, but that too had been yanked from the Interwebs. Join me in raising a glass to the great days of analogue adventures!

We have now reached more than 782,775 downloads, numbers being boosted by interest in the programmes about China, North Korea and several documentaries about propaganda, during the Second World War and later. On average, this site logs around 9000 downloaded episodes a month, which isn't bad for vintage material. 

First of its kind

Media Network was one of the first international communications magazines of its time. I hosted and produced the programme, but a lot of the content was made by a network of volunteer monitors, reporters and researchers located all over the globe. Diana Janssen also joined me as co-host during the last 5 years of the programme. She made a considerable contribution to the programme.

Where do these shows come from?

I kept copies of most of the show, especially those that dealt with specific issues or were connected to current events in that period. Since leaving Radio Netherlands in 2003, I have gradually digitized the tapes as part of my research into international broadcasting and where it might go after shortwave. Personally, I find it amazing to relive this era, especially as most of it was pre-Web, pre-Skype, pre-YouTube, pre-email, when most people thought twice about picking up the phone to call a radio station in another country. There is also a lot to be learned from what worked and what failed. Too many recent media ventures could have learned a lot from those who went before them. 

I am always interested in your reactions, especially from people who may be discovering this material for the first time. It will encourage me to post more. Looking at the site stats, it would seem that around 13% of the subscribers are downloading via iTunes. The rest do so directly from the site or using 3rd party apps. Please tell friends about the vault and encourage them to subscribe. 

There are also radio related videos which I made more recently over on my video vault.

Finding a show 

This is a new form of the website now that Libsyn has updated the style of the podcast feeds. You can also subscribe in iTunes by searching for "Media Network Vintage". As each "new" edition is published, it will download automatically to your MP3-player of choice. I personally find the Downcast app to be the best for IOS. But other podcast apps are available.

I know some of the material here is niche stuff to many broadcasters - but I also know that people interested in international communications and broadcasting are very passionate people. Because of the politics, it provided a constant wave of stories. I also believe that we developed one of the first collaborative formats on international radio, where individuals could do some detective work, report their results, and share experiences with those with a similar passion.

As you may know, I currently work with all kinds of high-tech photonics scale-ups in many parts of Europe, but especially in the Eindhoven region. I'm particularly fascinated because this region is where international broadcasting started in Europe and where the long-range properties of shortwave radio were first discovered in 1926/1927.

There are still plans to relaunch a podcast version of Media Network. I have been very busy with all kinds of other distractions so far, but there is (slow) progress. Watch this space.

Dec 30, 2011

In the mid 1980's it was always extremely difficult to balance the programme bearing in mind the varying listener interests. Most of the feedback came from South Asia, North America, Europe and the Pacific, so compiling an edition to interest someone in Bombay as well as Boston was challenging. Following my trip to Victor Goonetilleke in 1985, we experimented with some special Asian editions of the programme which were only broadcast to Asia at 1430 UTC. They had very different content, focussing mainly on South Asia. The programmes brought mixed response. Some said they liked the fact that we highlighted issues affecting South-Asian listeners. But there was an equally strong lobby that said the reason for tuning in to a European station was to find out what new technologies were being used there. They thought we should not single out a particular area as being a special case.

In the end, we limited the number of special opt-out programmes, prefering to do "media safaris" to various regions of the world and making the programmes available to all target areas. 

In this edition we looked at the different approaches taken by foreign radio manufacturers in India. Philips set up Philips of India and made radios locally to match the buying power of that market. The Japanese, on the other hand, did not share their technology and would only build screw-driver assembly plants in India using components shipped from Japan. In the end, the Indian engineers had the last laugh. They quickly became the engineering entrpreneurs in the Middle East, South-East Asia and Silicon Valley leaving the Europeans very much in the shade. On later visits to Delhi it was obvious that operations like TV Today and NDTV didn't need any help from "developed countries". They were well ahead already. Only Indian state TV and radio remains firmly stuck in the 1960's, strangled by its own bureacracy. When was the last time you listened to All India Radio?


Jim Davies
over six years ago

I listen to AIR from time to time. The political commentary goes over my head but the musical choices are often really nice to listen to, and the whole overall audio quality has a warmth and niceness that I think is unique to AIR.