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Media Network Vintage Vault 2017-2018


September 2017 - 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 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.


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 738,409 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 11000 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 later in 2017. I have been very busy with all kinds of other projects so far, but there is progress. Watch this space.

Aug 16, 2010

This programme examines the boarding of Radio New York International , which broadcast from a radio ship anchored in international waters just off Jones Beach, Long Island New York in 1987 and 1988. I seem to recall that the authorities said one of the reasons for the boarding was that it is illegal to broadcast from a ship. Except that the Voice of America did exactly that off the coast of Greece in the 1950's. The "Courier 410" was fitted out with 150 kW diesel generators by RCA and transmitters designed to put a shortwave signal out via a tethered balloon. The good old Interwebs has plenty of photos here and here. - nothing like that when we made the programme. From 7th September 1952 till May 1964 the USCGC Courier broadcast Voice of America programs in 16 languages to Communist bloc countries in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, transmitting these programs 10 hours each day. During these tense years, USCGC Courier, operating as a sea station, was constantly alert to crisis, with the ability to move to a "hot spot” and begin broadcasting in a matter of hours. They had two Collins 207B 35 kW short-wave transmitters on board coupled to the folded Discone antennas, up front at starboard a higher frequency MW antenna and at port a lower frequency MW antenna. They also had an RCA MW transmitter with 150 kW. output. Originally it was planned to have six additional ships but due to the high cost, only the Courier was put into service. According to the German offshore radio site, "the ship was not allowed to broadcast on the high seas and was only permitted to operate within the territorial waters of a country when granted permission. The local population viewed the ship and its crew with mixed emotions. Rhodes was under Italian domain from 1812 to the end of WW2 and now they were back under the Greek Flag and Queen Fredrica. After a period of adjustment, the Americans were generally accepted into the Greek community. For the first year or so the main antenna was carried aloft by a barrage balloon. The ballon was 69 x 35 feet in size and held 150.000 cubic feet of helium. It was held by means of a winch-operated line to float 900 feet in the air to support the medium-wave antennas. The ballooon was lost a couple of times, and it ended up in Turkey. Then a VOA engineer, Ivan Boor, designed an inverted delta antenna that fitted between the masts. There was a slight loss in signal output but being free of the balloon problems proved to be well worth the loss. A receiving site was constructed on the highest point of Monti Smith, a hill south of the city of Rhodes. A VHF link was set up to send the program material sent from Washington DC on tape and via SSB link down to the ship. Many innovative antennas were designed and implemented to thwart Russian jamming and natural phenomena such as selective fading. There was a very large impedance matching device under the flight deck. Oh, and the rest of the programme reports on the launch of Music Television into Europe. Enjoy.


Denise Clemens
almost five years ago

Hello, my father was stationed on USCGC Courier for two years. My family lived on the island of Rhodes. Today there is a Courier Association. We discovered no mention of the Courier in the Coast Guard Museum in Conneticutt. We are developing an exhibit that will include a model of the ship. If you had a recording of a Courier broadcast, I'm sure you would have posted it. However, I am asking, do you have such a recording? Or how to get one? We would love to have a copy of it for the exhibit. Thank you so much.