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The Media Network Vintage Vault 2021-2022


March 2021- A message from Jonathan Marks, producer Media Network

BREAKING NEWS (in case you missed it!): Media Network Series 2 has now launched. This will be a 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: medianetworknewseries@gmail.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.

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 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.

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!

Jun 3, 2014

In 1989, satellite television was in its infancy. I remember watching events in China unfold on CNN, which had only just been added to the cable system in Holland. Then in the early hours of June 4th, shortwave listeners in North America started calling the Radio Netherlands answerline with an off air recording of Radio Beijing. Apparently an announcer at the English Service of Radio Beijing had spliced a short but very clear message onto the front of the transmission tape. A very courageous thing to do. When he'd finished, the programme continued with the usual political commentary. We rebroadcast out this clip. I've reprocessed it again for clarity.

At the time, the story in Western Media (and later in publications) was that the voice you hear in this clip belonged to Li Dan, then Head of the English Service at Radio Beijing. He disappeared for a time, but did return later as on-air 

Keith Perron, now living in Taiwan, supplies this version. Impossible for me to verify, but sounds more plausible.

"Li Dan like other heads of department at Radio Beijing were sent to what the Chinese call Communist School for a bit, but then returned to RB. 

The two who did the story. The writer being the deputy director of the English Service Wu Xiaoyong who was also the news editor on duty was placed under house arrest for many years. When he did manage to leave China a few years later. He moved to Hong Kong and became one of the key people at Phoenix Television. Wu Xiaoyong was only placed under house arrest, because his father was a high ranking government official. 


The guy who read that announcement on air Yuan Neng didn't fare so well. He was sentenced for 14 years in a prison labor camp and was banned from ever working in media in China.


After Li Dan returned from Communist School he resumed his position the new deputy director was Xu Huazhen who was a nobody in the English Service in 1989. But she had reported to the officials who in Radio Beijing was a supporter of the students. Not long after she became the deputy director she was promoted again to the party secretary of the English Service. Around 1994/95 Li Dan was promoted to one of the vice-president positions around the time the station changed its name from Radio Beijing to China Radio International. a few years later he became the president of CRI and in 2003 was promoted to CCTV as a vice president."