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The Media Network Vintage Vault 2022-2023


April 2022 - A message from Jonathan Marks, producer Media Network

Yes, we're still here, having survived the  Covid-19 lockdowns. I've started sorting out some off-air archives in the audio only selections. Episode 4 of the new 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 that I have collected. 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: medianetworknewseries@gmail.com

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 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 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!

Dec 16, 2018

This was an example of interaction with listeners calling in with media news, it seems the timesignal station in Australia VNG is in trouble, we look at 3 new QSL cards from Radio Netherlands, and visit the Test Card Circle in the UK. I see the site is still active in 2018. 

 

QSL Cards

As from April 15th 1997 there will be three new QSL cards available from us for correct reception reports on any of our radio broadcasts. This series is entitled from wireless to the worldwide web. The first card shows the original wooden antenna masts built in Huizen just north of Hilversum way back in 1937. They were unique in their day because the whole construction was built on a turntable and so one antenna could swing round and serve various parts of the globe. Having built the antenna for external broadcasting, the Dutch tried to blow it up three years later. In May 1940, as Nazi troops crossed the Dutch border to occupy the country, attempts were made to disable the transmitter site before it fell into enemy hands. However, it didn't take the Germans too long to put the system back in order and from records in the broadcasting museum it appears the transmitter of PCJ was used for English and Dutch broadcasts directed to South Asia, most of them produced in Berlin. After the war, Radio Herrijzend Nederland used the site and later Radio Netherlands until in 1957 new facilities were built in Lopik, not far from Utrecht, right in the heart of this country. So, card number one looks back at this historic transmitter site in Huizen.

D:The second card focuses on the Radio Netherlands building.

Officially opened in 1961, the new Radio Netherlands broadcasting centre in the north of Hilversum was a vast improvement. For the first 15 years of its existence, Radio Netherlands operated out of four converted villas on the Bothalaan in Hilversum. Since the newsroom was in one house and the studios across the road, there are lovely stories of people missing deadlines because it was icy outside and newsreaders slipped over in their haste to get to the other building. A special documentary film was made to mark the opening where it clear that the job of the announcer was indeed very much to announce things to the world, rather than the more informal character we use these days.

It's remarkable that in those days women were expected to leave the company if they got married, and the concept of female managers was just unthinkable. Anyway, if you look at the QSL card drawing made in 1961 you'll see there's a bit of virtual reality built in to it if you compare it with aerial photos taken in the 70's and early eighties.

D:     From the air, the building looks like an aeroplane, the studios being at the back end of the body of the plane. But the drawing shows two sets of studios, but in fact only one set was built initially, partly for cost reasons. It was drawing that adorned the sugar bags in the canteen for many years, accompanied by jokes of when are they going to build what they promised. Well in fact the building was extended some 30 years later.

J:     And, last but not least, card 3 in the series shows the production team behind the world-wide web at Radio Netherlands. The department of Strategy and New Media is currently three people, Katherine Farnon, Caroline van Oosten de Boer and is headed by Diana Janssen. And shortly a fourth member of the team will be coming on board. Alvaro Ortiz speaks Spanish and is also an artist.

D:     Yes, and of course it's not a department that's isolated from the rest of our radio and TV productions. So there are literally dozens of people in other parts of the programme division who are helping us build the web site and try out new things. We believe that Internet is content driven not technology driven. Everyone is talking about building the information superhighway, but frankly we're not going to be building the infrastructure, we're using it and we think you need a four-wheel drive approach.

J:     Our company Mission Statement is the map of how to get there, on time and within budget.  We agree with partners on how to meet up at a particular point and then set to get to the goal in a straight-line. Sometimes the information highway hasn't been built yet, so the four-wheel drive comes in handy when negotiating the unpredictable communications terrain in Central Asia, Africa and Latin America.

D:     So that's some detailed background to the three new verification cards being issued as part of Radio Netherlands 50th anniversary. Once again, they'll be issued for reports on or after the 15th of April while stocks last.