Jonathan shares archived Media Network Christmas and New Year shows

Crosley-Dial

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jonathan Marks, who shares the following from his Media Network Vintage Vault.

Jonathan writes:

“Picking up on the idea of revisiting archive Christmas and New Year shows, here are some from Radio Netherlands for the SWL Blog.

Seasons Greetings, Jonathan”

Media Network 26.12.1996 Boxing Day Show

A radio Christmas spent in the Media Network studio way back in 1996. Sounds like we were having fun! I look back on this period as perhaps one of the golden years for Dutch external broadcasting, producing a range of documentary productions in English and Spanish and recording great concerts, both classical and jazz.

This programme focussed on answering listeners’ letters on subjects like satellite television in Australia (DW was organising a bouquet of signals) and the major changes to the commercial radio scene in New Zealand. The auction of FM frequencies in the Netherlands and shortwave stations that sold radios were also topics for discussions. RBI archives have, for the most part, been destroyed. Swiss shortwave listeners were quizzed on their listening habits. The 410 ft tower formerly used by AFN has been dynamited out of existence. Capital Radio in South Africa is in trouble.

MN.28.12.1995 Rhodesia – Answering Back From Francistown

I met the late Harold Robin a couple of times at his home in Tunbridge Wells, UK. He was a brilliant Foreign Office engineer who built the wartime Aspidistra transmitter famous for its clandestine work out of Crowborough. Have a listen to the programmes Wartime Deception and you’ll see what I mean.

Although his work during the war is well documented in books like “The Black Game”by Ellic Howe, I think we managed to capture the other stories from later in his life. For instance, how he invented the “Picolo” modulation system as used by the diplomatic service to communicate text over shortwave between embassies. He also built the BBC Overseas relay station in Oman, and the external service of UAE Radio from Dubai. This edition, recorded after Christmas in 1995, looked at the story of the British response to the declaration of independence by Ian Smith in, what was then, Rhodesia. Harold talks about setting up a mediumwave transmitter in a matter of weeks in the town of Francistown, in the Bechuanaland Protectorate, now called Botswana. Thanks also to Colin Miller for some of the recordings of the RBC. It seems that one of the two transmitters was sent to Cyprus after the World and Rhodesia operation ended, the other ended up in Ordfordness for some experiments on 648 kHz. You might also want to check out the video of Margaret Howard, who refers to a special programme transmitted over this MW sender. It was called the World and Rhodesia and was more of a UK government editorial than any programme the BBC would make. The programme concept didn’t work although it seemed to have taken the British government a couple of years to find out. Harold refers to staying in the Tati Hotel River Lodge, about 8 kms outside of Francistown. Sure enough, it’s still there.

MN.23.12.1982: Christmas Review 33 years ago

I picked this recording out of the archives because it has a nice capsule summary of the major media stories from 1982. The highlight was, of course, the Falklands-Malvinas “conflict”. This programme contains clips from the FIBS, RAE Argentina and the BBC’s Calling the Falklands Programme. We also looked in some detail at the short-lived Radio South Atlantic which broadcast in May and June 1982 from a requisitioned BBC transmitter on Ascension Island. We asked the British Ministry of Defence to explain how the station was operated. We also analyzed a transmission broadcast on May 20th 1982 (the second night of transmission).

But it was also the last programme in which Wim van Amstel appeared as RNW Frequency Manager. It was certainly not the last time he was heard on the programme, though. Again it is striking to hear some of the predictions – and how they were spot on. The call with Arthur Cushen in New Zealand is rather like making contact with the moon. Cannot believe how fast time has flown.

At the time of publishing this podcast, I was also sad to hear of the passing of BBC correspondent and broadcaster Brian Hanrahan, who famous line when broadcasting under censorship from the Falklands Fleet was brilliant. Unable to reveal how many British aircraft had been involved in the conflict, he reported that after one sortie he “counted them all out and I counted them all back.

MN.26.12.1991.Year End Review

This was a news show 1.6 million tune in to Radio Netherlands in Dutch during their summer holiday. WWV and WWVH have had problems with their automated time announcements. Drum recorders are back on line. Victor Goonetilleke has news about Cambodia. VOA is having challenges building its transmitters at a new site 50km North of Colombo.

Why did we broadcast all these numbers? People forget none of the listeners had access on-line and only a fraction of the audience had access to printed DX bulletins. Andy Sennitt reports on what is in the 1992 World Radio TV Handbook. James Robinson reports that several UK local radio stations are leaving mediumwave. WLS 890kHz is scrapping its FM format. A new Catholic SW station WEWN was being built in Birmingham, Alabama. (The late) Dave Rosenthal reports on an experiment in McMurdo. Remember this show is 24 years old!

Vasily Strelnikov signs off at Radio Moscow World Service and recommends people to tune into Radio Netherlands. Radio Moscow staff watch the red flags of the USSR being lowered.

Thanks so much for sharing these, Jonathan–and Season’s Greetings to you!

I’m looking forward to several hours of listening over the coming days.

Trevor Baylis in the Vintage Vault

RNW-MediaNetworkEarlier this week, I posted an article about wind-up (clockwork) radio inventor, Trevor Baylis.

I recently discovered a 1995 episode of RNW’s Media Network, which featured Baylis–and the clockwork radio–in the context of inventions that would carry us beyond the new millenium:

(Source: Media Network Vintage Vault)

Remember Trevor Baylis and the wind-up radio? I organised a conference for Radio Netherlands at the International Broadcasting Convention IBC between September 11-14th 1995. We decided to celebrate the fact that we were 5 years away from a new Millennium by looking at the technologies that would carry us forward. That included a look at different codings for DAB, a reality check on radio by Sri Lankan broadcaster Victor Goonetilleke and a special performance about the Clockwork Radio from Trevor Baylis, the British inventor who turned up in Amsterdam and charmed the audience with his frank, funny and brilliant introduction to the concept of wind-up radios. A few weeks after the conference we produced a special CD for those who took part. This is a copy for those who missed it. It’s double the length of a normal Media Network, just over an hour.

You can download this archive episode of Media Network on the Vintage Vault website.

By the way, Jonathan Mark’s Media Network Vintage Vault has many, many audio treasures from the radio past. Certainly worth bookmarking!

Andy Sennitt: The Media Network years – the future

Media Network, which covered international broadcasting developments, recently ended a 30-year run on RNW. In the first three articles of this series, Andy Sennitt recalled some of the highlights, and in this final part he looks at how international broadcasting might develop in the next ten years.

Below, I am posting the full article from the RNW website. I don’t typically do this, but I would certainly hate for this post to be deleted from the RNW site at some point in the future. I think Andy has great insight into the future of shortwave radio and his comments about international broadcasting are most valid (and, indeed, reflect my own).

Andy, we will miss you in Media Network, but wish you the best in your early retirement.

(Source: RNW)

Part four: the future

RNW headquarters in Hilversum, Netherlands (photo coutesty: RNW)

The first decade of this millennium saw a significant number of international radio broadcasters disappear from the air. For shortwave listeners, it was a decade of doom and gloom as station after station announced that they were ending or reducing their shortwave transmissions.

Hobby clubs which a few decades earlier had complained that international broadcasters were using too many shortwave frequencies were now begging them not to go off the air. I expect this pattern to continue during the next decade, though there will still be a significant amount of shortwave broadcasting to regions such as Africa, South Asia and parts of Latin America.

Shortwave broadcasts to Europe will be mostly from private, low budget stations and to North America from the various private US stations that carry mainly religious or right-wing talk programmes. Major international broadcasters such as the BBC, the Voice of America and its sister stations etc. will continue to have a significant presence, but their languages and targets will be more closely tied to current political developments and/or press freedom issues. There will be very little room for ‘legacy’ services, so in general jobs in international broadcasting will be far less secure than they once were.

China
An exception to this general rule is China, which continues to broadcast in more languages than any other country. Reliable sources with inside information have told me that the reach of some of these services is very small, and that China Radio International is very good at inflating numbers, for example by counting all the spam messages it receives as genuine emails from listeners. Another CRI strategy is to buy airtime on struggling AM stations in the West, although China does not so far offer reciprocal arrangements to Western broadcasters in China.

China also operates several international TV services, and an expanded range of such services from other countries seems certain. In recent months I’ve seen news of several more countries that intend to start TV broadcasts, and some of those already on the air plan to add more languages. The problem is that TV is a lot more expensive to produce than radio. The money has to come from somewhere, and especially in tough times for the economy the radio services usually suffer.

The French connection
It will be interesting to see what happens in France, where the international radio and TV services have been merged into a single organization. If the two can work together effectively, it could prove to be a successful merger that might inspire others to follow suit. I’m thinking of the international services of such countries as Russia, China and Iran, where the radio and TV services rarely mention each other’s existence, as if they are in competition with each other.

I wonder how long it will before we see a TV version of the radio services provided by WRN. When WRN started, it gave international broadcasters a chance to reach a new audience who didn’t listen to shortwave radio, and provided existing listeners with an alternative way of hearing their favourite international stations with better audio quality. Now there are a significant number of international TV channels, but they’re scattered across many different satellites, so only a satellite enthusiast with a large steerable dish and an expensive receiver is likely to see a significant number of them. A WRN-type service, with a variety of TV stations sharing the same transponder, might be a way to make some of the output available to a wider audience.

Websites & apps
In the meantime, the websites of international broadcasters will have to try harder to make people aware of their radio and/or TV programmes, and how to tune them in. It seems ridiculous that some large broadcasters with a staff of hundreds cannot get their act together to produce an accurate schedule of their output. Some only manage to update their schedule weeks after it has gone into effect. Others give the job of compiling the schedule to someone who doesn’t have a clue about technical matters, and then they don’t bother to check it before publication. Sometimes errors and typos are never corrected.

I expect to see more apps from international broadcasters for the various mobile and handheld platforms. These will increase the chances of getting content to the younger generation, to whom conventional radio listening is considered old-fashioned. But the content has to be suitable, and I hope that international broadcasters will recognise the need to have young people on their staff who understand how to serve this generation. Too much international broadcasting content is still produced with the over 50s in mind.

Time warp
International broadcasters must accept that in general they are far less significant than they once were. For example, since 1947 RNW has had a Dutch service whose reach was high amongst its target group of Dutch expats. But since the advent of the internet, the information that RNW used to provide can be found on numerous websites, and the USP (unique selling point) of RNW’s Dutch service is no longer valid. Hence the painful decision to close it.

I have the impression that many of the people who have made a career out of international broadcasting have in effect entered a time warp, and they have failed to realise how much has changed in the world outside. I recall taking part in an experimental phone-in at RNW in the 1980s, and the newsreader told me that he’d been reading the news for 30 years and that was the first time he’d ever seen or heard any audience reaction.

I once met an experienced BBC World Service producer who admitted that he had never heard BBCWS on shortwave. I decided that I couldn’t – and indeed shouldn’t – work in the strategy department unless I had some regular contact with the audience, so that’s why I’ve also been working part-time on the English website.

Drops in the ocean
Those international services that survive to the end of the current decade will be the ones that can face up to the challenge of creating content that their potential audience wants, making sure that the content is distributed on appropriate platforms, and letting people know about it. They’ll have to work a lot harder to stand out from the crowd. Instead of being big fish in a small pond as they were on shortwave, they’re tiny drops in the internet ocean. I wish them success. International broadcasting has been my life for nearly 40 years, and it has given me friends around the world. Now I’m off to make some around here.

Andy Sennitt: The Media Network years – the noughties

Media Network, which covered international broadcasting developments at Radio Netherlands, recently ended a 30-year run on RNW. In a series of four articles, Andy Sennitt mentions some of the highlights, and then looks ahead to how international broadcasting might develop in the next ten years.

Part 3 of this series, “The Media Network Years: the noughties” is now available on RNW’s website

Andy Sennitt: The Media Network years the 1990s

Media Network, which covered international broadcasting developments at Radio Netherlands, recently ended a 30-year run on RNW. In a series of four articles, Andy Sennitt mentions some of the highlights, and then looks ahead to how international broadcasting might develop in the next ten years.

Part 2 of this series, “The Media Network Years: the 1990s” is now available on RNW’s website

Andy Sennitt: Looking back at 30 years of Media Network

RNW headquarters in Hilversum, Netherlands (photo coutesty: RNW)

Media Network, which covered international broadcasting developments at Radio Netherlands, recently ended a 30-year run on RNW. In a series of four articles, Andy Sennitt mentions some of the highlights, and then looks ahead to how international broadcasting might develop in the next ten years.

Part 1 is now available on RNW’s website. Part 2 will be published on May 1st 2012. This read is definitely worth your time.

The Mighty KBC will begin broadcasts on shortwave 30 October 2011

(Source: Media Network)

Dutch-based KBC Radio has published the following information: “The Mighty KBC will start broadcasting on shortwave on 30-10-2011 Saturday and Sunday between 11.00 – 16.00 UTC. There is a good chance that we will use our new frequency during weekdays as well in the future. Within a few weeks we will announce our new frequency.”

We will post the KBC schedule when it becomes available. KBC is currently testing on 513 MHz for all of you MW DXers.

QSL info:

KBC531@gmail.com

or write to

The Mighty KBC
Argonstraat 6
6718 WT Ede
The Netherlands