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The Media Network Vintage Vault 2020-2021

March 2020 - A message from Jonathan Marks

We're now several weeks into the new decade and the grip of the Corona virus. Luckily you can't catch it via this website. 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 567 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 and Terahertz technologies 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. Last year on November 6th 2019, we celebrated 100 years of radio in The Netherlands. This year this country is celebrating 75 years since liberation from Nazi occupation as well as 75 years of the UN. Media Network made several documentaries to explain the very different contribution that Dutch international broadcasting made to media in other parts of the world.. You can read more about some of the forgotten firsts in this article I wrote on the Medium platform here. A video of the presentation on November 6th will be posted here soon.

Reliving the Mainstream broadcast heritage of the 20th Century.

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 38 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 923,790 downloads, numbers being boosted by interest in the programmes about Rwanda, 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 6670 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. You will find links to those videos here on this blog.

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 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.

We have started to release video versions of Media Network. I have succeeded in filming on my travels, including in Washington DC, Bucharest, Caversham, Vienna and Berlin. Watch this space in 2020.

Dec 15, 2018

We thought we had found the last of the Media Network tapes, but a new batch has been discovered. The late John Campbell mentioned the clandestine radio station, Radio Euskadi several times in the 1980's and early 1990's. But, thanks to the help of Eric Beauchemin, we eventually discovered the secrets of this rebel voice of the Basque underground. And Eric saved the tape, so now we can play it again.

Indeed, in the next half an hour, we’re going to dig deep in to the history surrounding a clandestine radio station, which is now a legal public broadcaster. Like Radio Netherlands, this station is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Radio Euskadi is the public broadcaster in the Basque Country of Spain. The Basque language branch started broadcasting in 1980, when the Basque Country achieved the status of an autonomous region within Spain. The Spanish-language station was officially established two years later. But, in fact, the roots date back half a century and have clandestine radio connections. Recent research in the French and Spanish parts of the Basque Country by Radio Netherlands’ Eric Beauchemin reveals the full story of how the Basque underground fought for an independent voice in Spain.

The Voice of the Basque underground has a colourful history, spread over two continents. If you’ve ever heard of the name Radio Euzkadi before, it could be because you came across a shortwave signal in the late ‘60s or early ‘70s when the station broadcast from Venezuela. The Venezuelan operation went off the air 20 years ago this week, on February 28, 1977. But the first clandestine Basque broadcasts came from southern France.

The origins of Radio Euzkadi date back to 1939 when General Francisco Franco came to power. His army had defeated the forces of Spain’s legitimate government, the left-wing Popular Front.

Franco’s repression was brutal. Trade union leaders and intellectuals were relentlessly persecuted as were the nationalist movements in Catalonia and the Basque Country. Both regions had obtained a good deal of autonomy during the Popular Front’s rule, and both the Catalans and the Basques were loath to give it up.

Franco’s repression was particularly harsh in both areas, and many Catalan and Basque leaders and intellectuals fled abroad. Among them was Joseba Rezola who became the exiled Basque government’s information and propaganda director. He was keenly aware that since the Basques only had one source of information, the Spanish government-run media, they might eventually start believing Franco’s propaganda. Rezola got the green light from the Basque government in exile to purchase a surplus transmitter from the American military. José María Lasarte, a member of the Basque government in exile, who was on a visit to the United States, was asked to take the transmitter back with him in his luggage. Inaki Durañona was Mr. Rezola’s personal secretary, as well as a member of the Basque nationalist party.