Nov 24, 2011
Satellites helped Radio Netherlands become far more topical in the 1980's. Before that, feature programmes like Media Network were recorded three weeks in advance and then shipped to Madagascar and Bonaire for playback at the transmitter site. By the time I arrived at the station, the programmes were being fed by satellite. But old habits die hard and it took me a while to persuafe the studio booking department that I wanted to record the programme as close to transmission time as possible, i.e. Wednesday evening rather than Monday afternoon. So much could happen. And in January 1986 it did, with the explosion and loss of seven NASA astronauts about the Space Shuttle Challenger. This was certainly a radio moment, since it was possible to follow the recovery operation if you knew where to search on the shortwave dial. As it happened, the feature that I'd prepared that week was on air-traffic control and the use of shortwave by planes.