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The Media Network Vintage Vault 2020-2021


August 2020 - A message from Jonathan Marks

We're now eight months into the new decade and still in the grip of the COVID-19 virus. Luckily you can't catch it via this website and maybe this time travel stuff to a much friendly world is a source of light relief.  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 585 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). 

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. Last year on November 6th 2019, we celebrated 100 years of radio in The Netherlands. This year this country is celebrating 75 years since liberation from Nazi occupation as well as 75 years of the UN. The current pandemic will overshadow many of the planned commemorations. Hopefully, they will simply be postponed and not cancelled. Media Network made several documentaries to explain the very different contribution that Dutch international broadcasting made to media in other parts of the world. You can read more about some of the forgotten firsts in this article I wrote on the Medium platform here. A video of the presentation on November 6th 2019 will be posted here when I get a moment.


Reliving the Mainstream broadcast heritage of the 20th Century.

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 39 years since "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 the programme 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!

As of August 2020, we have now reached more than 880,000 downloads, numbers being boosted by interest in the programmes about Rwanda, Forces Radio, 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 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 our success.

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. We have opened an email address for feedback. Just write to: medianetworknewseries@gmail.com

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.

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.

We have started to release video versions of Media Network. I have succeeded in filming on my travels, including in Washington DC, Bucharest, Caversham, Vienna and Berlin. Watch this space later in 2020.

Jun 14, 2020

A news edition of the programme. This year (1989) we’re starting to see the spectrum analysers on radio, ten years after frequency readouts appeared in 1980. The Italian Radio Relay Service is expanding with PLAY DX with Dario Monferini. There’s news of a clandestine Radio Venceremos from El Salvador. CHU Canada has a new voice. Tim Hendl in Miami reports has suddenly identified as La Voz de Nicaragua. We did an interview with Tom Fikkert and Dr Kim Andrew Elliott (pictured) about international broadcast research. We discuss the challenges of measuring the size of international broadcast audiences in a pre-Internet era. There was also a strong rise in satellite-delivered relays, plus poor frequency management on shortwave. We review a shortwave radio that is made in Poland made by Sabena. And we call Kaz Matsuda who is leaving Radio Japan after 18 years and heading for Australia. We were sad to learn that Kaz passed away in 2010