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The Media Network Vintage Vault 2020-2021

June 2020 - A message from Jonathan Marks

We're now six months into the new decade and 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 575 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 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 38 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 May 2020, we have now reached more than 875,676 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:

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 29, 2012

More photos of Friday's closedown are here on my Flickr account: 

Dropped by Radio Netherlands building for the last few minutes of their broadcasts in English. Did an interview with Jonathan Groubert, host of the State We're In, as he prepared a few words to add to the final broadcast towards Africa. Then went downstairs to an almost empty newsroom where Rob Kievit, producer of the last day, was making a few last minute preparations.

Then, we all joined Jonathan Groubert in Studio Booth Number 4 where English programmes (including news bulletins) have originated for decades. After Dheera's last words, Jonathan added one final thank you. I left a small audio recorder running to capture the moment for the history books. And so a bottle of champagne was opened, knocked back rather hurriedly, and then we all headed for the last train home. So ends an era. This recording captures the moments....before, during and after the final signoff.

I added a stereo copy of the Radio Netherlands interval signal, played on the carillion in Breda. I was actually present in the bell tower during the summer of 1985. It was one of the first all digital recordings we ever made. It replaced a worn out recording of the same tune which had been made in the 1950's at the cathedral in s'Hertogenbosch. The tape had stretched after being copied so many times. 

Thanks to Kai Ludwig in Germany for sending me a better copy of Jonathan Groubert's last words captured from the satellite. I've mixed them in. 

over four years ago

I heard the final farewell broadcast on SW 6065 kHz to Europe from Wertachtal transmitter site in South Germany;very sad indeed.

Tim Wallace
almost six years ago

Just found this... A sad day but a nice recording. Really pleased that you attached the RNW interval signal at the end. That was always my favourite and it brings back good memories!

Saul Broudy
over eight years ago

Thank you, JM, for this inside glimpse of the "last moments". Very sad, indeed. Like Jay Vos, I had the opportunity of visiting RNW; played American folk music as part of the anniversary Open Day entertainment in (was it?) 1987. When Jonathan Groubert asked me if, as a shortwave listener, I would be visiting other European stations, I replied that only RNW felt like family to me. I wish everyone the best as I toast you with my RNW coffee mug. Thank you for the years of thoughtful and thought-provoking programs.

Kevin Anderson
over eight years ago

Thank you so much, Jonathan Marks, for capturing the very end of the RNW English Service. I was away from the computer in that last particular hour and had missed Jonathan G's closing remarks. Thank you for preserving these works. Sad. My nose and eyes watered at the end as I listened to your podcast. But I am trying to smile as Jonathan G. directed I should and will monitor their progress in the innovations to come. Cheers to you and everyone.

Dan McNulty
over eight years ago

Dear Jonathan: Thank you so much for capturing the final moments of Radio Netherlands. To all the people of radio netherlands..You Made A Difference In The World, You truly did. All the work from behind the scenes, the presentors, the radio tower technicians, the website staff, the many journalists, You ALL Made A Difference in people's lives around the world and you will ALL be missed. Radio Netherlands will remain in our hearts no matter how much time passes. To jonathan and everyone else at Radio Netherlands, Thank you for sharing all your wonderful talents with the rest of the world. Dan McNulty, Rosemount, Minnesota, USA.

Jay Vos
over eight years ago

To the Two Jonathans: Thanks. I've been listening to RNW sinct I was a child. Yes, I'm 64 years old now, and my family used to listen first to the shortwave programs in Dutch and English on my dad's huge Philips radio. My mother was American and my Dad was born in Zeeland. They died in the early 1990s so never heard the programs on the internet. But I continued to listen, even on short wave when I was camping in the Vermont woods. Yeah, Jonathan Groubert is right that RNW tried to save itself too late. But the in depth documentary programs at RNW were excellent journalism, sorely lacking today in commercial radio for sure, but also in a lot of public radio broadcasts in the USA. Back in the mid 1990s I visited the station and had a chance to meet several of your colleagues. David Swatling's arts programs were my favourites. I met him - he even treated me to a beer in Amsterdam. A the station, I was given a Radio Nederland Wereldomroep t-shirt. It's been worn a lot over the years... laundered so much that the logo colors are faded a bit; it's tattered, but I still wear it proudly. This week I've worn it in honor of you all. I've visited family and friends over the years, frequently. But that trip to Hilversum and meeting you all was one of my most memorable from visits to Holland. Oh, and Jonathan Groubert, I remember when you started at RNW for goodness sakes! Well done all. I better stop cuz I'm getting teary eyed and cannot read the keyboard. Tot ziens, y'all.

Juul Geleick
over eight years ago

Hi Jonathan,

Thanks for you nice words about a fine radio station.

Richard Cuff
over eight years ago

Very interesting interviews and perspectives, especially from the two Jonathans.

Steve Coombs
over eight years ago

Thanks for recording and making this available-a sad day