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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: medianetworknewseries@gmail.com

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 16, 2018

This was an example of interaction with listeners calling in with media news, it seems the timesignal station in Australia VNG is in trouble, we look at 3 new QSL cards from Radio Netherlands, and visit the Test Card Circle in the UK. I see the site is still active in 2018. 

 

QSL Cards

As from April 15th 1997 there will be three new QSL cards available from us for correct reception reports on any of our radio broadcasts. This series is entitled from wireless to the worldwide web. The first card shows the original wooden antenna masts built in Huizen just north of Hilversum way back in 1937. They were unique in their day because the whole construction was built on a turntable and so one antenna could swing round and serve various parts of the globe. Having built the antenna for external broadcasting, the Dutch tried to blow it up three years later. In May 1940, as Nazi troops crossed the Dutch border to occupy the country, attempts were made to disable the transmitter site before it fell into enemy hands. However, it didn't take the Germans too long to put the system back in order and from records in the broadcasting museum it appears the transmitter of PCJ was used for English and Dutch broadcasts directed to South Asia, most of them produced in Berlin. After the war, Radio Herrijzend Nederland used the site and later Radio Netherlands until in 1957 new facilities were built in Lopik, not far from Utrecht, right in the heart of this country. So, card number one looks back at this historic transmitter site in Huizen.

D:The second card focuses on the Radio Netherlands building.

Officially opened in 1961, the new Radio Netherlands broadcasting centre in the north of Hilversum was a vast improvement. For the first 15 years of its existence, Radio Netherlands operated out of four converted villas on the Bothalaan in Hilversum. Since the newsroom was in one house and the studios across the road, there are lovely stories of people missing deadlines because it was icy outside and newsreaders slipped over in their haste to get to the other building. A special documentary film was made to mark the opening where it clear that the job of the announcer was indeed very much to announce things to the world, rather than the more informal character we use these days.

It's remarkable that in those days women were expected to leave the company if they got married, and the concept of female managers was just unthinkable. Anyway, if you look at the QSL card drawing made in 1961 you'll see there's a bit of virtual reality built in to it if you compare it with aerial photos taken in the 70's and early eighties.

D:     From the air, the building looks like an aeroplane, the studios being at the back end of the body of the plane. But the drawing shows two sets of studios, but in fact only one set was built initially, partly for cost reasons. It was drawing that adorned the sugar bags in the canteen for many years, accompanied by jokes of when are they going to build what they promised. Well in fact the building was extended some 30 years later.

J:     And, last but not least, card 3 in the series shows the production team behind the world-wide web at Radio Netherlands. The department of Strategy and New Media is currently three people, Katherine Farnon, Caroline van Oosten de Boer and is headed by Diana Janssen. And shortly a fourth member of the team will be coming on board. Alvaro Ortiz speaks Spanish and is also an artist.

D:     Yes, and of course it's not a department that's isolated from the rest of our radio and TV productions. So there are literally dozens of people in other parts of the programme division who are helping us build the web site and try out new things. We believe that Internet is content driven not technology driven. Everyone is talking about building the information superhighway, but frankly we're not going to be building the infrastructure, we're using it and we think you need a four-wheel drive approach.

J:     Our company Mission Statement is the map of how to get there, on time and within budget.  We agree with partners on how to meet up at a particular point and then set to get to the goal in a straight-line. Sometimes the information highway hasn't been built yet, so the four-wheel drive comes in handy when negotiating the unpredictable communications terrain in Central Asia, Africa and Latin America.

D:     So that's some detailed background to the three new verification cards being issued as part of Radio Netherlands 50th anniversary. Once again, they'll be issued for reports on or after the 15th of April while stocks last.