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Media Network Vintage Vault 2019-2020

October 2019 - A message from Jonathan Marks

Welcome. 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 540 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 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. In 2019, there will be events to celebrate 100 years of radio in The Netherlands. I hope that the contribution that international broadcasting made will not be forgotten. You can read more about it here

Reliving the Mainstream broadcast heritage

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!

We have now reached more than 918,766 downloads, numbers being boosted by interest in the programmes about Rwanda, North Korea and several documentaries about propaganda, during the Second World War and later. On average, when I am actively uploading, this site logs around 8400 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 this:

There are also radio related videos which I made more recently over on my video vault on Vimeo.

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 the 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.

There are still plans to relaunch a podcast version of Media Network. I have been very busy with all kinds of other distractions so far, but there is (slow) progress. I have succeeded in filming on my travels, including in Washington DC, Caversham, Vienna and Berlin. It is just finding the time to do the editing. Watch this space.

Mar 14, 2011

This was one of the first shows to also be broadcast on mediumwave via the 1440 kHz Radio Luxembourg transmitter. These are some of the items mentioned in the programme.

  • Sony Corporation is celebrating its 50th anniversary at the moment. This is reflected in major efforts to get MiniDisc going, major campaigns to boost the switch to 16 by 9 format televisions, plus home entertainment enhancements such as Prologic. As far as shortwave receivers is concerned Sony continues to invest in the travel market. The latest offering is a portable receiver called the ICF-SW-40 which combines digital tuning with the feel of an analogue tuning knob.
  • We looked at the growth of Sky Radio, and Dutch consumer electronics companies are reporting a growth in the sales of the 16 by 9 letterbox format television sets. Most of it is in the top end of the market amongst the larger screen TV. The Dutch Facilities company NOB, which follows the market reports that about 100,000 wide-screen TVs will be sold in the course of 1996.
  • The Dutch pubcaster VPRO wants to set up an archive of endangered sounds. Kees Slager says it started when they looked into the archives at broadcasting house looking for sound effects and discovered many distinctive sounds had been wiped. They couldn't find any sounds of Dutch soldiers on parade, a mechanical hand-driven sewing machine or the sound of metal dustbins being collected early in the morning by the refuse collector. The VPRO programme OVT which specialises in historical subjects has now called on listeners to collect endangered sounds and send them in. I recall the BBC World Service doing a similar thing in 2009.
  • The British DX Club has just published the fourteenth edition of its publication Radio Stations in the United Kingdom.The Dutch consumer association, the consumentenbond has just published the results of an extensive survey into rechargeable batteries.
  • A fire at a receiver manufacturing plant in South Africa has delayed the European launch for Nethold slightly, but the marketing plans continue. Mark Cutten is director of Demand Video at Nethold. We asked him to explain why there's such a push to satellite TV.
  • Radio and TV Hong Kong will again appear on shortwave briefly to cover the China Sea Race. We got in touch with the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club for the details.