Tag Archives: Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Jonathan remembers Radio Netherlands Worldwide one year on

RNW's final broadcast schedule (Source: Jonathan Marks)

RNW’s final broadcast schedule (Source: Jonathan Marks)

A few days ago, former RNW employee, Jonathan Marks, was sorting out some papers in his office when something “spooky” happened:

“one sheet [of paper] fell out of a pile and onto the floor. It was the page of the last day of transmission from Radio Netherlands, English department.”

“What was weird was that this happened exactly one year ago to the day they pulled the switch. It was 2253 local time on a Friday when Jonathan Groubert, above, made the last announcement from Continuity Studio 4.”

Jonathan’s full post on his blog, Critical Distance, has some fantastic photos, notes, an interview and recording from the final moments of RNW’s final shortwave broadcast. Click here to read his post.

Jonathan’s post reminded me that one year ago, I was on a six week vacation with my family in the Canadian Maritimes.  I listened to and recorded all of the final RNW shortwave broadcasts in an off-grid cabin on the eastern coast of lovely Prince Edward Island. An SWLing memory I will never forget. You can listen to these field recordings and read my post, “RNW says farewell in style” via this link.

RNW looks into Zimbabwe’s history of media repression

Zimbabwe-MapIronically, Radio Netherlands Worldwide was once an international voice for those living without free press. In the following RNW article,  Dlamini points out that technology is advancing at a rapid pace and media outlets increasing; however, radio remains the most accessible means of receiving news and information, and unlike technologies that rely on the Internet and mobile phone networks, radio listening cannot be easily traced or monitored by those in power.

It is my sincere hope that, somehow, RNW’s voice will once again find the means to speak for those in need of free press.

Even 33 years after winning the fight for independence, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe remains a harsh critic of the white colonial government’s system. But with his recent ban on radios, he is imposing the same oppressive tactics that he himself once fought against to liberate his people.

By Nkosana Dlamini, Harare

As I write, Zimbabwe’s statutes are being stiffened with the state oppression that Mugabe himself once fought against. A case in point is the state’s recent banning of small wind-up radios with a short-wave dial.

To understand better, let’s first rewind a few decades…

Chiefs and Commandos
Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, gained independence in 1980 after a protracted guerrilla war. At its peak, in the 1970s, the two main fighting movements, ZIPRA and ZANLA, established exiled radio stations in neighbouring countries where their fighters received training. These stations broadcast into Zimbabwe via short and medium-wave. It was the way to communicate with the local villagers who supported the war by sharing intelligence and foodstuffs.

But in a bid to thwart enemy operations, Ian Smith, the last white Rhodesian ruler, developed strategies that forced radios to be fitted with frequency modulation (FM), as opposed to short wave.

Manufactured by local Zimbabwean firms, Smith’s FM radio sets were branded with the name ‘Chief’.[…]Other radios were manufactured under the name ‘Commando’ and distributed to soldiers in the bush. The government’s intention here was to keep spirits up with music and programmes in which troops could request favourite songs and relay messages about their welfare to loved ones.

Mugabe’s heavy hand
Smith claimed – as Mugabe does now – to be shielding people from pirate stations broadcasting hate speech. In both eras, locals have been instilled with fear. They have had to resort to listening to exiled stations from under the blankets and in their barns, anxious that their neighbours might see them using forbidden radios.

[…]Even under Zimbabwe’s stringent laws today, it is not a crime to own a radio receiver. But, by day, Mugabe’s state agents confiscate the radios and harass citizens found in possession of them – a practice that gets revved up each time a Zimbabwean election looms. By night, the same agents return home to tune into exiled stations via the radios they’ve confiscated. In some instances, they distribute them among their relatives.

The state says it is confiscating the receivers because they are being brought into the country by NGOs without paying a customs fee. In some instances, the do admit they are trying to prevent ordinary citizens from accessing exiled Zimbabwean radio stations through shortwave – a unique feature in these radios.

In other ways, too, Mugabe has proven worse than his predecessor. He has made repeated attempts to scramble these stations’ signals. He is also allegedly responsible for the 2002 bombing of exiled station Radio Voice of the People and the 2000 and 2001 bombings of independent newspaper The Daily News.

Today’s listener
But Mugabe may be fighting a losing battle. Technological advances are no longer so slow. Today’s listener is not only more stubborn, but also more able to access alternative media sources such as the internet and digital satellite broadcasters.

Radio is also accessible via cell phone and computer. Most Zimbabweans now own cheap Asian-import cars fitted with radios that can access Studio 7, the exiled station most despised by Mugabe which has coverage even wider than that of the FM state broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation (ZBC). Radio Voice of the People and Short Wave Radio Africa are two other exiled stations that attract a generous listenership.

And the stricter Mugabe gets about the ban’s imposition, the more ravenous becomes the appetite of Zimbabwean citizens. They want to hear precisely what the state broadcaster cannot – or will not – put in their domain.

(Source: RNW)

Radio Netherlands Worldwide archives in danger

RNW(Source: NRC Handelsblad, with translation by Andy Sennitt.)

Radio Netherlands Worldwide and the Broadcasting Music Centre must find a new home for their archives by 1 July. RNW is still looking for a home for its extensive music collection, paper archives and recordings of many broadcasts in languages such as Indonesian, Arabic and Sranan Tongo since 1947. The Broadcasting Music Centre has from 1 August no place for five kilometres of sheet music, sometimes handwritten.

Media Historian Huub Wijfjes finds it astonishing. “We have institutions like Sound and Vision and the Eye Film Institute that were established to ensure that we don’t make the mistakes of the sixties and seventies when everything was discarded. Now the same thing is likely to happen again. For me, my sources will be lost. ”

Sound and Vision seems a logical place, but there is a problem. Collection Curator Hans van der Windt explains: “Access to large archives costs money that we don’t have. For example, we need to have the copyright to the material in order to make it available for research, but most organizations don’t want to give up the copyright.”

Many thanks to Andy Sennit for apprising us of this and for translating the original item from the NRC Handelsblad. I do sincerely hope that an educational institution or benefactor steps up to the plate to help RNW find a proper home for these significant and invaluable archives.

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!

RNW radio equipment for sale

mixing_board(Source: Andy Sennitt via Facebook)

From the Dutch website (my translation):

The disappearance of a number of tasks of Radio Netherlands Worldwide means some of the technical equipment is now available for sale. This includes a fully equipped Network Operations Centre with a network matrix of NTP, a complete Studer system with four presentation cells and and a master console, six Studer ‘WPM’s’, all of the type ‘On-Air’ 3000 or ‘On-Air’ 2500. In addition, many peripherals are offered, including Airtools voice processors.

Are you interested in these assets? Respond by March 15, 2013 by sending an e-mail to roland.hiltermann [a t] rnw.nl