Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

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 22, 2012

Found this interesting montage while searching for something else. It's a show we did from Hong Kong looking ahead to how the Special Administrative Region would change when HK was handed back to the Chinese in July 1997. It's interesting as Chris Patten is currently chairman of the BBC Trust. That quote at the start of the programme is rather appropriate in the UK at the moment.

Between now and July 1st 1997, an estimated 8000 journalists will be passing through Hong Kong examining basically the same story. In January 1841, China and Britain signed a Convention which ceded Hong Kong island to Britain, a year later Kowloon was ceded too and in 1898 the land north of the Kowloon peninsula was leased by the British from the Chinese. Now that lease is coming to an end. As sovereignty of the whole of this area changes from British to Chinese, what will happen to life in Hong Kong as it becomes a special administrative territory. Around 2000 Dutch speaking families are part of the international community living here, most of them working in the banking or electronics sector. 

We've been talking to them as well as to Chinese and English speakers to find out what they think will happen. The answer is the same. China has pledged to preserve Hong Kong's capitalist economy, currency and freemarket policies until the year 2047. But with economy booming in the Peoples Republic of China, home to 1.2 billion people, its no wonder some doubt whether the government in Beijing really needs or cares about the long term fate of 6.3 million packed into the tiny space called Hong Kong. And since the public media is government controlled, many feel than any changes will first be heard over the airwaves. Hong Kong's governor, Chris Patten, stressed this during the recent meeting of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union.

Radio TV Hong Kong puts out a continuous relay of BBC WS in English on 675 kHz.

The majority speak of the residents speak Cantonese. Next year, though RTHK will start programmes in a new language

The name Hong Kong comes from the Cantonese which means "fragrant harbour". Its not so fragrant these days, more rather choppy as hundreds of boats criss-cross across Victoria Harbour between the island of Hong Kong and the mainland tip of Kowloon. The Star Ferry charges 2 Hong Kong Dollars to cross from one side to the other. That means the upperdeck trip costs a mere 28 US cents. It's one of the cheapest rides in the world. It also allows you to escape for a few minutes from the continuous traffic and watch the high-rise skyline. The travel brochures encourage you to shop till you drop and the shops in both Kowloon and Hong Kong island stay open until 10 at night. Shop windows bulge with famous name fashions, electronics and photo goods. Tourists from Europe comment that Hong Kong's relatively expensive. But depends what you're looking for. Shifty looking characters on many street corners near Nathan Road near Tsim Sha Tsui hiss at foreigners in loud whispers. Copy watches, fake clothing? And if you're willing to disappear up three flights of stairs into a dimly-lit backroom, you too can bargain for a fully functional Rolex-looking watch for less than 80 dollars. Its backed by a lifetime money-back guarantee. If you value your life, you won't try and claim your money back. Police in Kowloon at least at currently cracking down on the counterfeits.

But if you take a few stops north on the super efficient underground railway, the MTR, get off at Sham Shui Po. The high rise buildings are the same. But the shop and street signs are only in Cantonese and there are fewer Western faces. Passengers splurge from the high-speed escalators onto the pavement. Across the road, the Golden Arcade has a scruffy sign about the Internet which is flapping in the upward breeze generated by the humid air and exhaust fumes. Inside are three vast floors of computer and video hardware. A sign strongly discourages you to take photographs. Once your eyes adjust to the off-white fluorescent bulbs, you find stand after stand of software. It looks genuine. But its a copy. Often the CD-ROM covers are empty. If you decide to purchase just about all the Internet publishing software available on one CD-ROM, expect to pay 7 dollars, to watch the stall holder call someone on a mobile phone and 20 minutes later someone else taps you on the shoulder and shoves a wafer thin plastic bag at you. Inside, there's a shiny CD with the software you wanted. Further inside, someone is selling software manuals. A sign claims they're original. A man standing in a tiny shop front tries to tempt us to step inside and buy a multi-media PC. It looks like it might work. But is what you see anything like what you get? For there's such a fine line between fake and genuine. Even with bargaining, the real hardware is still expensive by most standards. The illegal software of course costs a few cents to mass produce. Most of it is coming from factories across the border in China. Will the tide really stop in 1997? Making money seems to be more important that authors rights. The packaging often turns out to be more impressive than the contents. The video CD of the latest Walt Disney block buster is the result of someone taking a consumer video into a cinema and filming the screen from his backrow seat. That maybe the hunchback of notre dame shuffling across the TV screen. Its difficult to tell after a videos been copied so many time. And the soundtrack is muffled by the sound of someone munching popcorn and giggling in Cantonese. Short-wave portables from Philips, Grundig and Sangean are easy to find in Hong Kong. Shop salesmen know what they're talking about too. Three hours drive from Hong Kong into Ghanghou province of China, you'll find the joint venture factories making many of the budget portables. China may have diplomatic problems with Taiwan. But more than 10,000 Taiwanese are running factories in Southern China and exporting the products out of the peoples republic. They'd like to exploit the vast domestic Chinese market too. But that's more difficult and means finding more influential friends.