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Media Network Vintage Vault 2019-2020

January 2019 - 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 515 editions of Media Network, representing just over half the episodes that we made and broadcast from the Radio Netherlands' studios in Hilversum.

As you may know, I currently work with all kinds of high-tech scale-ups working in photonics 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. In 2019, there will be events to celebrate 100 years of radio in The Netherlands. I hope that the contribution that international broadcasting made will not be forgotten. You can read more about it here

Reliving the 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 37 years since "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 the programme 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 867,896 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, when I am actively uploading, this site logs around 8500 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 our success.

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. We have opened an email address for this:

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

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.

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. I have succeeded in filming on my travels, including in Washington DC, Caversham, Vienna and Berlin. It is just finding the time to do the editing. Watch this space.

Dec 12, 2010

In the summer of 1992, if you tuned up and down a shortwave radio in many parts of the world you could hear what sounded like a Yoga meditation class on several dozen frequencies. At this time, the Russian authorities were hiring out shortwave airtime to anyone who wanted to pay for it. Radio Moscow World Service, the Russian external broadcaster had been downsized well before it became the Voice of Russia. As a result, many shortwave transmitters were lying idle. Aum Shinrikyo bought a major amount of airtime....42 simultaneous transmitters. The movement was founded by Shoko Asahara in his one-bedroom apartment in Shibuya, Tokyo as a meditation class known as Aum-no-kai ("Aum club") and began steadily growing in the years that followed. It gained the official status as a religious organization in 1989. Because it attracted such a considerable number of young graduates from Japan's elite universities that it was dubbed a "religion for the elite". The Wikipedia entry goes on to explain that at the end of 1989 there were rumours that some public figures who criticized the "religion of truth" were being eliminated. At the end of 1993, the cult started secretly manufacturing Sarin nerve gas nerve and VX (nerve agent) Aum tested their sarin on sheep in remote parts of Western Australia. Both sarin and VX were then used in several assassinations (and attempted assassinations) in the course of 1994. The most notable was on the night of 27 June 1994, when the cult carried out the world's first use of a chemical weapon in a terrorist attack against civilians when they released sarin in the central Japanese city of Matsumoto, Nagano. The gas killed eight and harmed 200 others. However, police investigations focused only on an innocent local resident and failed to implicate the cult at that point. Flashback to 1992, when enquiries that we did in Moscow revealed that the cult hadn't made much in the way of new programming. All these transmitters were being fed from a DAT recorder put into a continuous playback loop the central transmission control centre in Moscow. It played Side A for 57 minutes then switched over to side B. Little did we realise that these rather poor presented programmes were fueled by such cruel actions. Note that the group reformed in the early parts of this century and the chapter on this Japanese cult is far from closed, even though they are no longer in the headlines.