Editor in Chief leaves Radio Netherlands

RNWMany thanks to Jonathan Marks, who shares this article from the populist Dutch daily newspaper De Telegraaf on Saturday.

If you can’t read Dutch, here’s a link to the article via Google Translate.

I believe RNW has struggled with identity and purpose since abandoning  all radio broadcasting and most programming in 2012. I’m still confused as to why they dropped The State We’re In; an award-winning program which had a loyal listenership and could have stood on its own.

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.

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.

Severance pay of Radio Netherlands CEO under scrutiny

Outgoing Radio Netherlands CEO, Jan Hoek (Photo: RNW)

Outgoing Radio Netherlands CEO, Jan Hoek (Photo: RNW)

(Source: de Volkskrant, translated by Andy Sennitt)

The severance payment for the outgoing CEO of Radio Netherlands Worldwide is excessive. This is what Sander Dekker, deputy minister responsible for the media, wrote on Thursday in a letter to the Lower House of the Dutch parliament.

RNW Director-General Jan Hoek was originally set to receive a fee of 1.1 million euros. Following an urgent request by Mr Dekker and his predecessor, the RNW Supervisory Board agreed with the Director-General to reduce the severance pay to 800,000 euros. Despite the reduction in the amount, according to Mr Dekker it is still “too high and therefore inappropriate and undesirable.”

The Deputy Minister willl investigate the legal issues, but sees no possibility of preventing payment of the severance premium. Mr Dekker says that taking the matter to court offers no solution, because according to the agreement signed in 2001 Mr Hoek is formally entitled to receive his full severance payment.

A new law regulating the salaries of public officials goes into effect on 1 January. This will prevent excessive payments in the future. Under the new rules, a severance payment will be restricted to a maximum of 75,000 euros. But agreements already signed are not covered by the new law.

John’s letter to RNW

John Figliozzi, noted author of the Worldwide Listening Guide, wrote the following letter to Radio Netherlands Worldwide regarding their farewell broadcast. I thought it was worth sharing with SWLing Post readers:

(Source: John Figliozzi)

RNW Farewell

It was a classy, inspired, quintessentially RNW move to open a shortwave frequency for North America for one last evening. I shut off the internet radio, set up the Eton E1 in the veranda (it’s summer here) and luxuriated in a strong, clear RNW signal from Bonaire on 6165 kHz., just like the “old days”. I enjoyed the experience so much, that I listened to the very same program three times as your target shifted hours from east to central to western North America. I recall when, after the “Save BBC World Service” effort failed to alter the BBC’s decision to shut down shortwave to North America, RNW stepped in immediately using the abandoned BBC frequencues to provide us solace and sustenance. That, too, was quintessentially RNW. There have been many such “losses” for we listeners to absorb over the last decade, but for me this one hurts the most. Thank you to all, past and present, at RNW for all you have done to make radio that truly mattered for so many years. Rest assured,!

I will be a frequent and consistent visitor to your archive so I might relive often the “golden age of radio” that RNW created and maintained for decades. Thank you and godspeed to all of you.

John Figliozzi
Halfmoon, NY

Radio Netherlands says farewell in style

Thursday night, by the light of an oil lamp, I tuned my trusty Sony portable shortwave to 6,165 kHz. At 2:00 UTC, I was rewarded with a rich, full signal from Radio Netherlands Worldwide’s transmission site in Bonaire. Here in this off-grid cabin, on sixty rural acres, I bask in the freedom from electrical noise that might otherwise interfere with my shortwave radio listening—at least in this respect, this is the perfect DXpedition cabin.

The signal coming out of Bonaire, however, would have overcome any interference: Radio Netherlands, my dear friend of some 32 years, had opened a special frequency for those of us in eastern North America…in order to say their good-byes to the airwaves.

I can only describe the experience of listening as radio bliss…pure radio bliss…marred only by the bittersweet realization that these were RNW’s final days on the air. The experience harkened back to the day when the big broadcasters had booming signals directed toward us.

But, alas. All too brief.

The broadcast was simply entitled Farewell and Thank You. You can hear it just as I heard it—through my recording–here (actual broadcast starts at 1:15):

Then, all day Friday, for nearly 24 hours straight, RNW bid good-bye and farewell to various parts of the world via shortwave, satellite and the internet. I was lucky enough to catch two more broadcasts.

This time of day (19:00 UTC), however, I needed bigger ears than the Sony could provide. I was listening to broadcasts targeting west and east Africa, not North America. Having already charged my laptop battery, I plugged in the Bonito Radiojet (an SDR that I’m currently reviewing) and, just before 1900 UTC, directed her towards 17,605 kHz. Though my Sony found the signal barely audible, the RadioJet produced beautiful fidelity.

This RNW broadcast, entitled The First 50 Years, took listeners through the highlights and history of the Dutch radio service. Here’s the recording I made with the RadioJet:

A final sign-off

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

At 20:00 UTC, RNW broadcast their very final show—a repeat of Farewell and Thank You (above) appropriately targeting Africa once more. I tuned the dial to 11615 kHz and listened again to the full broadcast. This time, however, as the program drew to its close, the broadcast crew added a personal message.

Jonathan Groubert, the talented host of The State We’re In, broadcasted live from Hilversum’s Studio 4 for a deeply touching adieu. Tears were shed, and I’m not ashamed to confess that I, too, listened through a haze of them as these capable and dedicated journalists, whom I’ve grown to trust, signed off the RNW airwaves for the last time.

But listen for yourself:

Jonathan Marks, RNW’s host of MediaNetwork, also featured in the farewell broadcast, recorded the final sign-off from within Studio 4. You can listen to this and read the description on his excellent website.

Dank je wel, Radio Nederland

RNW–my dear radio friends—I’m going to miss you. Your personalities–and the collective personality of RNW itself–your award-winning content, news, reporting, and your integrity stood out amongst all those Cold War broadcasters I listened to growing up—who, as you so well put it, were merely mouthpieces for their respective governments.

Radio Nederland, I loved your broadcasting because you were fearless: you marched to the beat of your own drummer, were not afraid to turn a critical eye even upon yourself, and as a result–in a world of sham journalism, of compromise and hypocrisy—you earned my trust. You had nothing to hide, and you had so many stories to tell.

RNW: I listened.

I wish you (and your intrepid creators) the very best in all that you do. I trust your new incarnation(s), whatever form they take, will do much good in this world which so sorely needs it, and sincerely believe that your integrity will live on.