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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.

Dec 2, 2012

This is Part One of an Eight-part series on the history of Radio Netherlands, the Dutch International Service. Presented by the late Pete Myers, he was in top form when this was recorded.

This is probably the most comprehensive audio compilation of what was achieved in the first 50 years of the Dutch external radio broadcaster. The series was recorded in November 1996 and broadcast in February 1997. It contains the voices and sound fragments from Guillermo Marconi, PCJ-tune "Happy Station"  and Eddy Startz, Radio Oranje , Radio Herrijzend Nederland, Lou de Jong, Henk van den Broek, (the station's first Director General), hr. Van Dulken, (the first Head of the English department), Joop Acda (Director General in 1980's), Bert Steinkamp (Programme Director), Lodewijk Bouwens (Director from 1994) and myself, Jonathan Marks (Director of Programmes 1992-2003).

I was talking back then about the need for Radio Netherlands to modernise and embrace new technology including the Internet. I was also concerned that the reason for international broadcasting was about to change - and that we were not moving fast enough to address the "why".  In the end, they didn't  - so these recordings lasted longer than the station!

About the host

Pete Myers made his name in international broadcasting on the BBC African Service in the 1960's, and at Radio Netherlands as the host and producer of the Afroscene, Mainstream Asia, Asiascan, as well as countless documentaries. There is a tribute programme to him on this site.

Pete wrote the series together with translator and researcher Luc Lucas. They used material from the Radio Netherlands sound archives, as well as recordings that I found in the Media Network broadcast collection.

From the Independent Obituary, written by Mike Popham.

Pete Myers, broadcaster: born Bangalore, India 17 April 1939; died Utrecht, The Netherlands 15 December 1998

Pete Myer's decision to leave the BBC while at the height of his popularity robbed listeners to the African Service and what is now the World Service of one of the most innovative and magnetic broadcasters to grace the international airwaves.

In the mid-1960s, as the first presenter of the African Service's controversially revamped breakfast programme, Good Morning Africa, Myers was an immediate hit with the huge new audience which had just been opened up by the mass-marketing of cheap transistor radios and, particularly in West Africa, by the start of the BBC's Atlantic relay station on Ascension Island. Within months, he was being accorded pop-star treatment whenever he arrived on tours to meet his fans in person.

Pete Myers was born in 1939 in Bangalore of Anglo-Indian parents but as he grew older enjoyed shrouding his origins in mystery. Consequently, and much to his delight, few people knew whether he was a Latin American, or an exotic blend of English, German, Jewish, Lebanese and Chinese. His father had in fact worked on the Indian railways.

Myers's feel for Africa resulted from his arrival in Ghana in 1957, around the time of independence. His broadcasting career began unexpectedly in Accra when he was 17. He had got to know the presenter of a jazz programme who allowed him to listen in the studio while the show was being broadcast. Then came the day when the presenter remembered, just as he was about to go on air, that he had left his script at home. Dashing out of the building to retrieve it, he was knocked down and killed. The panic-stricken producer had no choice but to ask the teenage Myers to take over.

Myers did so with such natural assurance that after five years he became Ghana's top music DJ and radio personality, and a favourite of the country's president, Dr Kwame Nkrumah.

Away from the microphone, Myers pursued a parallel career as one of the founders of what subsequently became Ghana's National Theatre. During the Congo crisis, he and his companions risked their lives entertaining UN troops in Katanga. As Myers like to recount, the high spots of his thespian activity were taking the part of Elvis Presley in a musical called Pick Me a Paw-paw and playing Hamlet in Moscow at Nkrumah's behest.

Leaving Accra for London in the mid-1960s, he was snapped up to become the presenter of the BBC's Good Morning Africa. In stark contrast to what had gone before, his resonant baritone and slick mid-Atlantic informality soon made him a household name throughout the African continent.

A year or so later, while increasing his workload at Bush House, he became one of the founding presenters of Radio 1's Late Night Extra. But with a restricted playlist, and without the freedom to indulge his sometimes anarchic sense of humour, he failed to make the same impression on his domestic listeners. However, at the beginning of the 1970s, as a result of his spectacular success with African audiences, Myers was entrusted with transforming Good Morning Africa into a flagship breakfast show for the world.

He presented The Morning Show, with its mixture of pop, politics and personalities, four days a week, and at the weekends hosted PM, his own show-biz interview programme. His treatment of celebrities like Peggy Lee, Shirley Bassey and Ingrid Bergman - his favourite - heralded that of Michael Parkinson on BBC TV. Myers was thrown by Dame Edna Everage, for once impersonated across the microphone by a dapper Barry Humphries in suit, monocle and trilby.

Having broken the mould of broadcasting at Bush House, Myers felt he needed a change of scene and went to Lebanon to become the manager and resident impresario of a nightclub, the Crazy Horse Saloon. Unfortunately, he arrived just before the outbreak of the civil war.

Bombed out of Beirut, he returned to London to find that The Morning Show had been relaunched as Network Africa and a new presenter, Hilton Fyle from Sierra Leone, had taken his place. Through ex-colleagues, he found a job opening Radio Nederland, in Hilversum. From 1976 onwards, he produced and presented hundreds of programmes in the Asian Service (Mainstream Asia, Asiascan), African Service (Afroscene) as well as the general English department. He eventually took over the helm of one of its most popular programmes, Happy Station.

Pete Myers last visited London in 1987 for the 30th-anniversary recreation of the original Radio 1 group photograph on the steps of All Souls', Langham Place.