Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A few words about the Media Network Vintage Vault


Welcome. I'm Jonathan Marks. If this is the first time you've visited this blog, then I'm glad you dropped by! As you may know, I currently work with all kinds of high-tech startups and scale-ups in many parts of Europe, but especially in the Eindhoven region. I can frequently be found at the High Tech Campus Eindhoven, now home to more than 140 extremely interesting companies. I'm particularly interested because this region is where international broadcasting started in Europe and where the properties of shortwave radio were first discovered in 1927.
Radio Netherlands when it was a broadcasting station

Reliving Mainstream broadcast heritageNearly six years ago, in early February 2010, I began an on-line experiment 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 35 years since the 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 on the shortwave wireless from May 7th 1981 until the end of October 2000 with more than 1000 editions. Many of the features are gradually making their way onto the 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!

I release between 6 and 8 vintage Media Network's a month, as time permits. We have now reached more than 538,845 downloads, numbers being boosted by interest in the programmes about China and several documentaries about propaganda, during the Second World War and later.

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 the programme. 
RNW studios in 2001
I kept copies of most of the programmes, 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. 

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

Finding a show 

If you want to see what has been put up since February 2010, click on the Media Network Archives orange button on the right and all the editions will be listed. 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.

The statistics show that most people download the shows through this site directly or through Facebook. As of the end of December 2015, the most popular programmes have been those on wartime deception, Radio London (offshore station and the train), the MN Jingle collection and the RNI Libya programme. Note that programmes are now archived under the months in which they were published. I know some of the material here is niche stuff - 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

Recent remarks on Facebook and Linked-in have generated all kinds of reactions including a request to share some statistics.

Here are the stats for 2015. When I post series of programmes, the number of monthly downloads goes up considerably. The peak in July 2015 was nearly 80,000 downloads which I think is pretty amazing considering the age of this material and the fact that it was never intended for a mainstream audience.

Post a Comment