June 2021 - A message from Jonathan Marks, producer Media Network
Media Network Series 2 has now launched. This will be an occasional VIDEO series. It will be a mix of previously unseen video from our archive, PLUS new material that I have started to collect. This site will remain as the audio archive and we will add remaining editions of 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: email@example.com
Here is a link to all the episode published so far. Click on the full-screen button to enjoy it fully. As of February 2nd 2021, 3 Episodes have been posted.
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 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 genuinely amazing YouTube channels emerging in 2021 about restoring vintage radios to their former glory. 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.
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 https://www.bvws.org.uk )
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 4888 downloads in January 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 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 last year (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. This year in May it will be 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 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.
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 2021, we have now reached more than 974,601 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. On average, when I am actively uploading, this site logs around 6670 downloaded episodes a month, which isn't bad for untouch vintage material.
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 end 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-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 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.
There are also radio related videos which I made more recently over on my video vault on Vimeo. You will find links to those videos here on this blog.
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!
Jan 3, 2021
This edition of Media Network covered updates on the numbers stations. But we started with news of unusual FM reception in New Zealand from Bryan Clark. Moscow has made a historic cutback to its output. We talk to Elizabeth Fox about broadcasting in Latin America. It was also time to renew the phone line to UK Numbers Station specialist Simon Mason to find out the latest on mysteries like the Lincolnshire Poacher, the Buzzer, and The New Star Station. This is an extensive interview with many off-air examples. Simon tells me (January 2021) that some are still running right now! Here's the list.
Re-live original Media Network shows as broadcast between 1980-2000. Curator & host Jonathan Marks shares the archive of insight into international broadcasting. And watch for occasional new episodes in 2021. Feedback welcome. Enjoy.