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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:

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 )

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!

May 13, 2012

This programme starts with the news about Chris Carey was caught in New Zealand connected with pirate decoders. There's a rather ironic item about public service broadcasting. Steve Whitt generated a nice response about earthing rods. Feb 1st was a landmark day in the end of Morse Code for maritime use. We talked about a Atlantic Hop experiment using Morse Code and involving the old Kootwijk shortwave site in Holland. We also looked at why Radio Luxembourg is still remembered, even though its been off the air for years. Shaun Tilley talked to us from Swansea. He argues that Luxy hasn't really been replaced. There are also the results of the Christmas contest to guess how many hits we had on in 1998. Alan J Knapp got my 1999 copy of the WRTH.

six and a half years ago

208m/1440kHz MW had a very nice tribute treat on 30th December last year;RTL repeated the English Service closedown programme from 30th December 1992 in a edited cut down version of two hours and five minutes from midnight UK/01.00 CET ending with the Luxembourg National Anthem at 2.05 UK/03.05 CET and they also repeated it for two hours during the day of New Year's Eve on 208m/1440kHz.

Power was on the German day aerial at 300kW erp;the midnight UK/01.00 CET broadcast was apparently transmitted with the directional passive reflectors disconnected in an omnidirectional pattern, cutting back in towards the end of Marion Montgomery's Maybe The Morning track and a quick skywave fade before the Luxembourg National Anthem closed the transmission and the transmitter was switched off.

The 208/1440 transmitter was finally closed down for good on 31st December 2015 at midnight UK/01.00 CET, and the remaining reflectors and omnidirectional antenna have been brought down early February and transmitter buildings cleared.

R.I.P. RTL 208/1440, you served us well, RTL might have taken you away but we still have the memories.

PS There was a plan by RTL/CLT/bce)) to transmit 208m/1440kHz from another transmitter site but this was scuppered.

seven and a half years ago

The UK night aerial on the right hand side of the picture (omnidirectional antenna and directional triangular passive reflector) has been demolished by bce)).

The Germany day aerial on the left hand side of the picture (omnidirectional antenna and two directional triangular passive reflectors) only exists now and power has been reduced to 300kW erp directing most of it's signal at Germany with an attenuated weaker skywave reflected west-north-west towards the United Kingdom after dark.

In the days of Radio Luxembourg during the day, the day aerial at 600kW erp was mainly used to beam the German programme to Germany and at around 18.00 UK/19.00 CET, both day and night aerials' 600kW transmitters were connected together in parallel for a combined power of 1,200,000 watts=1200kW in real terms to broadcast to the UK and a good part of Europe;

18.00 UK the Dutch/multilingual programme with Mike Verdrengh (it was a pan-european style radio show with letters,dedications and requests in various european and international languages),

18.30 UK Qui Italia! would follow for Italians living outside Italy in other parts of Europe,

then at 18.45 UK the German religeous programme would make a nice run up to the English Service at 19.00 UK/20.00 CET until closedown at 3am UK/4am CET when the night aerial would be disconnected and the day aerial would be switched back in at 600kW for the German Service before total switch off and sign on at 03.50 UK/04.50 CET with the familiar musical box interval signal on the Germany day aerial.

over eight years ago

I agreed with Shaun Tilley and he WAS correct in what he said;NO station has EVER succeeded Luxy nor replaced it nor has anything succeeding it been quite as good as it-Luxy had a massive european and international audience AND set the standard and raised the bar for international radio broadcasting.