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The Media Network Vintage Vault 2020-2021

May 2020 - A message from Jonathan Marks

We're now five 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 574 editions of Media Network, representing just over half the episodes that we made and broadcast from the Radio Netherlands' studios in Hilversum.

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.

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.

over four 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.

almost five 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.

five and a half 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.