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The Media Network Vintage Vault 2024-2025

January 2024 - A message from Jonathan Marks, producer Media Network. 

Yes, we're still here although my other work has meant I have little time for shortwave these days. I've started sorting out some off-air archives in the audio-only selections. Episode 4 of the Media Network Series is the latest of the new Media Network videos. This is an occasional VIDEO series,  a mix of previously unseen videos from our archive, PLUS new material I have collected. This site will remain as the audio archive, and we will add the remaining editions of the Media Network First series and other material as well.

If you want to get notification of new editions, then sign-up today for the free Media Network Gossip Newsletter. We have also opened an email address for general feedback. I would like to understand how you use this site, and which programmes you like best. Just write to:

Here is a link to all the episode published so far. Click on the full-screen button to enjoy it fully. 

On The Shortwaves: The Best Index

A thousand thanks are due to Jerry Berg for compiling his brilliant 2021 Media Network index on his brilliant site On The Shortwaves and sharing it with the rest of the world. He also has a separate index to find contributions from Southern African reporter Richard Ginbey

Several people have pointed out that the masthead of this site - the Flevoland Transmitter Site - now looks very different.  The transmitter building is still there. But the huge curtain antennas shown have been demolished. For the full story watch Episode 3 video of the Second Series. 

But why is there a need for this site and a new series?

COVID-19 Lockdown has taught me the value of hobbies. In my case, it is the mechanical engineering side of model railways and the restoration of electric clocks. My third passion is unearthing untold stories about the medium of international broadcasting. The problem is that although this industry spent hundreds of millions of Euros shouting across borders for decades, very little of that enormous effort was kept in some form of a coherent collection.

There are some truly amazing Youtube channels emerging about restoring vintage radios to their former glory. For starters, I recommend checking out Mr Carlson's Lab or David Tipton. They are brilliant! And if you are interested in the stories from past audio technology in general, just follow (and support) Matt Taylor's Techmoan series. He occasionally picks up radios to explore. I can also recommend the excellent audio podcast "Cold War Conversations

But, unlike physical clocks and OO scale models, radios have no memory. They only pick up what's on right now. And shortwave radio in the last century was the ultimate in appointment listening. You had to be at exactly the right point on the dial, often at a peculiar time, with the right equipment and, even then, there was no guarantee reception would be good. 

I remember the late Gerald Wells, the British vintage wireless enthusiast, used to run a low-power mediumwave pirate radio station with dance band music from a shed in his garden. His reason was "you can get the radio working again, but few of the transmitters carved into the dial are still there". It's true, radio has a terrible memory. (I'm delighted to learn that the British Vintage Wireless Society is still going strong )

Now you know why I am publishing old editions of Media Network here on this site, as well as some of the off-air recordings of stations I monitored in the 80's and 90's as part of the research for the programme. I'm simply looking for ways to capture more unique stories that I believe need to be told before we all forget. I realise that in 1000 editions of Media Network, we had only just begun the scratch the surface. So at this time of reflection, I'd just like to thank everyone for their support and encouragement as the archive project enters a new phase.  

First time visitor?

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 650 editions of Media Network, representing just over half the episodes that we made and broadcast from the Radio Netherlands' studios in Hilversum. I'm pleased to say most survived in excellent studio quality (quite often in stereo). We had 5035 downloads in December 2021, which isn't bad for a vintage vault.

As you may know, I currently work with all kinds of high-tech scale-ups working in Photonics, Quantum 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.

Unfortunately, the ongoing COVID pandemic overshadowed many of the planned commemorations (75 years since liberation from Nazi occupation as well as 75 years of the UN). Hopefully, they will simply be postponed and not cancelled. 

Reliving Mainstream broadcast heritage from the 20th Century.

In early February 2010, I began an online experiment here on Libsyn with podcasting to understand how their 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. In May 2021 it was 40 years since "Media Network" was launched as the new name of the media show on Radio Netherlands, building on the rich heritage of programmes like DX Juke Box 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.

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. RNW Media left Hilversum in 2021 so very little is left.

However, I am delighted that many non-Media Network shows are being shared again at the Radio Netherlands Archives site. This is a private initiative by former members of the English department. Join me in raising a glass to the great days of analogue adventures!

As of January 2022, we have now reached more than a million downloads, numbers being boosted by interest in the programmes about Rwanda, Bhutan, South Africa, spy number stations and several documentaries about propaganda, during the Second World War and later.

Media Network - 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.

How did these shows survive the demise of Radio Netherlands?

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-Zoom, 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 15% 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. 

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.

Happy Exploring and please share your adventures with us!

Jul 29, 2010

This podcast is actually two Media Network programmes rolled into one. We originated the show from Berlin on November 8th and 15th 1990, a year after the fall of the wall. I was keen to visit Radio Berlin International, the voice of the GDR, located in a former furniture factory on the Nalepastrasse. Because of its former owner, the building had huge empty hallways where the furniture was built and rather smaller offices alongside. The English section had mostly been dispanded by then, but there was familiar GDR propaganda material lying around in the office. If you want to understand more about the media situation in the GDR before the wall came down, check out the fabulous interview with Wolf Harranth who runs the radio documentation project in Vienna. Those videos are to found here and . What amazed me was realising that the RBI staff could see the wall from their office windows and that some of the presenters, like commentator John Peet, had gone across the wall the other way.

Kai Ludwig
over twelve years ago

Very interesting. Originating from Berlin? Details would be of interest...

The RBI presenters from the other side remained kind of ghosts. I have already been asked about RBI English, but that's something about which also former "local national" staff members know nothing. All I could add was that the guy who presented its farewell show appears to still live in Berlin and has erased broadcasting from his biography.

I did not know so far that Deutsche Welle in fact used studios in the Nalepastraße radio house. The question is until when. Probably for not much longer than in the case of all but one Königs Wusterhausen transmitter which they abandoned in spring 1991, followed by the last Königs Wusterhausen outlet (on the well-known 6115 kHz frequency) and the shortwave transmitter at Wiederau (south of Leipzig) which they gave up in autumn 1993, leaving only Nauen, and this in spite of an expensive equipment renewal also only until spring 2007. By the way, also in the GDR the transmitters (and in this case even the studio facilities) were operated by the postal office.

I'm quite surprised about the RIAS folks believing that they could be seen in the GDR in B&W only. It demonstrates the limits of their knowledge of the circumstances there, since GDR-made colour TV sets have been equipped with PAL decoders since the late seventies. By the late eighties this feature was almost a matter of course and had been openly demonstrated in shops. Still it was a good idea to make sure that the productions looked good in B&W, but for another reason: Colour TV sets were in the GDR so expensive that many people simply could not afford them, and so full-sized B&W sets remained in production until the end.

What should be also mentioned is that the regional radio studios were since 1986 on air daily for nine (on weekends eight) hours, Leipzig even for 11 (10) hours. So it was no surprise that they were able to go full-time in spring/summer 1990.

Let's in a hurry put up some photos I made in 2007...

Largest music studio (Saal 1):

Radio play studio H2, nowadays run by a production company with its old console (in other configurations used in live studios, too), still in use in 2007 but meanwhile being replaced and given to a museum:

Studio K1, formerly used by RBI:

Area of studios K1 plus K13 and K3/K4, the latter being the former live studios of Stimme der DDR / Deutschlandsender, in its final years until 1993 called DS Kultur:

The same, studios to the left, editing suites to the right:

One of the non-studio floors, with the original furniture factory layout. Note also the calling display under the clock, as installed everywhere in the buildings to call certain staff members:

The new office (background) and studio (foreground) buildings, called Block E and inaugurated in 1965, as seen from the office of the director:

A German-language article, with pictures in order: Detail of old console in H2; former "Rundfunk der DDR" neon signs on Block E office building (called E-R), crippled in 1990 and completely removed around 2005; announcers room of K1; main control room in Block E studio complex (called E-T) through which also all RBI outputs had been routed; studio K8 in E-T; production studio P9 in E-T; two pictures of K6 in E-T, too, used by DT64 from 1987 until leaving to Halle/Saale in autumn 1993.

Tom Gavaras
almost fourteen years ago

Great podcast, Jonathan! RBI's final English language broadcast can be heard here:

Part 1:

Part 2: