The Forgotten Firsts
Monday, December 31, 2018
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
We open a new telephone hotline for DX tips (overseas calls were still very expensive though). Professor John Campbell has been to Ireland and discovered why some of the unofficial stations are connected to hotels. Some may be coming back to shortwave. He shares some amazing stories about how these stations survive. We also talk to Bob Zanotti of Swiss Radio International about Radio 24 and the fight for local commercial radio. Venezuela claims it is on the air with a new broadcast for the Caribbean and the Americas. We review a new academic book on International broadcasting by Dr Donald Browne. Voice for the World has been published by the BBC External Services. Richard Ginbey has news that Namibia has appeared on mediumwave.
We started with news about frequency changes. I joined the VRT Open day and a trip to Wavre, the transmitter site of Radio Vlaanderen International. Director Jan van der Sichel has plans for a satellite transponder for Europe. They will not switch off the medium and shortwave. The World Radio Network is also launching its new English network on satellite. Professor John Campbell explains how clandestine stations have changed and why FM is the biggest enemy to clandestine monitoring. John reviews a new book called Danger Signals? by Barry Collins. He questions whether the unofficial stations are really causing interference to utility services. There news about a Sony radio ICFSW30L, and the ICFSW-55 Sony Style magazine.
Note there is a more extensive profile of Radio Vlaanderen International made two years later
A regular edition of Media Network, one which I thought we wouldn’t be making. If there was an 11 cities skating race in Friesland, then the feature programmes were dumped. But in this case in 1986, things started thawing and the event was cancelled. An Ariane satellite will be launched, we spotted the clandestine Radio Bardai in Libya, Richard Ginbey can hear the Voice of Africa also from Libya. On the receiver front, there were free changes to the Philips D2999. Pete Myers joins us with a review of the Philips D2935. We thought it only fair. In clandestines, Prof John Campbell has news of transatlantic tests by UK unofficial station (Radio Medway), and Irish station Radio Ireland International. Andy Sennitt in Copenhagen had news about Mali, and Equatorial Guinea. The results of Media Quiz 1986 with the answers. Bob Horvitz has news about the Woodpecker Projects. Mike Bird says the ionosphere is quiet and the start of the ABC's shower service.
A lot has been written and documented about the growth of UK Commercial Radio. Much less on the growth of commercial radio in Ireland to break the monopoly of the Irish public broadcaster RTE. In 1982, we ran quite a comprehensive survey of the situation in Dublin. The late John Campbell also gave us frequent updates as the pirates tried to provide an alternative.
Sunday, December 16, 2018
This was an era when year end reviews were still popular. There was no internet for research or to act as the memory of great radio broadcasts. So this is the way shortwave international radio was looking in Christmas 1982, the year of the Falklands conflict and the appearance of several clandestine radio stations. This was my first attempt at making a compilation of the year's events, with boxes of reels of tapes that I had been saving. The script was all typed out on a typewriter. It would be another couple of years before the Apple II appeared in the Netherlands. But enjoy what was possible 26 years ago.
This was an example of interaction with listeners calling in with media news, it seems the timesignal station in Australia VNG is in trouble, we look at 3 new QSL cards from Radio Netherlands, and visit the Test Card Circle in the UK. I see the site is still active in 2018.
As from April 15th 1997 there will be three new QSL cards available from us for correct reception reports on any of our radio broadcasts. This series is entitled from wireless to the worldwide web. The first card shows the original wooden antenna masts built in Huizen just north of Hilversum way back in 1937. They were unique in their day because the whole construction was built on a turntable and so one antenna could swing round and serve various parts of the globe. Having built the antenna for external broadcasting, the Dutch tried to blow it up three years later. In May 1940, as Nazi troops crossed the Dutch border to occupy the country, attempts were made to disable the transmitter site before it fell into enemy hands. However, it didn't take the Germans too long to put the system back in order and from records in the broadcasting museum it appears the transmitter of PCJ was used for English and Dutch broadcasts directed to South Asia, most of them produced in Berlin. After the war, Radio Herrijzend Nederland used the site and later Radio Netherlands until in 1957 new facilities were built in Lopik, not far from Utrecht, right in the heart of this country. So, card number one looks back at this historic transmitter site in Huizen.
D:The second card focuses on the Radio Netherlands building.
Officially opened in 1961, the new Radio Netherlands broadcasting centre in the north of Hilversum was a vast improvement. For the first 15 years of its existence, Radio Netherlands operated out of four converted villas on the Bothalaan in Hilversum. Since the newsroom was in one house and the studios across the road, there are lovely stories of people missing deadlines because it was icy outside and newsreaders slipped over in their haste to get to the other building. A special documentary film was made to mark the opening where it clear that the job of the announcer was indeed very much to announce things to the world, rather than the more informal character we use these days.
It's remarkable that in those days women were expected to leave the company if they got married, and the concept of female managers was just unthinkable. Anyway, if you look at the QSL card drawing made in 1961 you'll see there's a bit of virtual reality built in to it if you compare it with aerial photos taken in the 70's and early eighties.
D: From the air, the building looks like an aeroplane, the studios being at the back end of the body of the plane. But the drawing shows two sets of studios, but in fact only one set was built initially, partly for cost reasons. It was drawing that adorned the sugar bags in the canteen for many years, accompanied by jokes of when are they going to build what they promised. Well in fact the building was extended some 30 years later.
J: And, last but not least, card 3 in the series shows the production team behind the world-wide web at Radio Netherlands. The department of Strategy and New Media is currently three people, Katherine Farnon, Caroline van Oosten de Boer and is headed by Diana Janssen. And shortly a fourth member of the team will be coming on board. Alvaro Ortiz speaks Spanish and is also an artist.
D: Yes, and of course it's not a department that's isolated from the rest of our radio and TV productions. So there are literally dozens of people in other parts of the programme division who are helping us build the web site and try out new things. We believe that Internet is content driven not technology driven. Everyone is talking about building the information superhighway, but frankly we're not going to be building the infrastructure, we're using it and we think you need a four-wheel drive approach.
J: Our company Mission Statement is the map of how to get there, on time and within budget. We agree with partners on how to meet up at a particular point and then set to get to the goal in a straight-line. Sometimes the information highway hasn't been built yet, so the four-wheel drive comes in handy when negotiating the unpredictable communications terrain in Central Asia, Africa and Latin America.
D: So that's some detailed background to the three new verification cards being issued as part of Radio Netherlands 50th anniversary. Once again, they'll be issued for reports on or after the 15th of April while stocks last.
Saturday, December 15, 2018
It was extremely rare that we prepared 5 Media Networks in February, so we thought of making this programme different from the usual bill of fare. But then, what was usual on this programme!
Looking at the mailbag coming in at the moment, there’s a clear bias from people who want to hear more radio related documentaries, especially along the lines of the expedition to Northern Finland.
Today’s programme comes as a result of surfing on the Internet. While looking through the excellent shortwave radio catalogue compiled by Pete Costello, we came across a link to a jingles society here in The Netherlands. So, every reason to find out more. We invited two guests into the wireless studio Benno Rozen (at that time working for Omroep Brabant in Eindhoven) and Jelle Boonstra. The website (made much later) is still up. And we will be hearing more from them in 2019 when Dutch radio celebrates 100 years.
We thought we had found the last of the Media Network tapes, but a new batch has been discovered. The late John Campbell mentioned the clandestine radio station, Radio Euskadi several times in the 1980's and early 1990's. But, thanks to the help of Eric Beauchemin, we eventually discovered the secrets of this rebel voice of the Basque underground. And Eric saved the tape, so now we can play it again.
Indeed, in the next half an hour, we’re going to dig deep in to the history surrounding a clandestine radio station, which is now a legal public broadcaster. Like Radio Netherlands, this station is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Radio Euskadi is the public broadcaster in the Basque Country of Spain. The Basque language branch started broadcasting in 1980, when the Basque Country achieved the status of an autonomous region within Spain. The Spanish-language station was officially established two years later. But, in fact, the roots date back half a century and have clandestine radio connections. Recent research in the French and Spanish parts of the Basque Country by Radio Netherlands’ Eric Beauchemin reveals the full story of how the Basque underground fought for an independent voice in Spain.
The Voice of the Basque underground has a colourful history, spread over two continents. If you’ve ever heard of the name Radio Euzkadi before, it could be because you came across a shortwave signal in the late ‘60s or early ‘70s when the station broadcast from Venezuela. The Venezuelan operation went off the air 20 years ago this week, on February 28, 1977. But the first clandestine Basque broadcasts came from southern France.
The origins of Radio Euzkadi date back to 1939 when General Francisco Franco came to power. His army had defeated the forces of Spain’s legitimate government, the left-wing Popular Front.
Franco’s repression was brutal. Trade union leaders and intellectuals were relentlessly persecuted as were the nationalist movements in Catalonia and the Basque Country. Both regions had obtained a good deal of autonomy during the Popular Front’s rule, and both the Catalans and the Basques were loath to give it up.
Franco’s repression was particularly harsh in both areas, and many Catalan and Basque leaders and intellectuals fled abroad. Among them was Joseba Rezola who became the exiled Basque government’s information and propaganda director. He was keenly aware that since the Basques only had one source of information, the Spanish government-run media, they might eventually start believing Franco’s propaganda. Rezola got the green light from the Basque government in exile to purchase a surplus transmitter from the American military. José María Lasarte, a member of the Basque government in exile, who was on a visit to the United States, was asked to take the transmitter back with him in his luggage. Inaki Durañona was Mr. Rezola’s personal secretary, as well as a member of the Basque nationalist party.
Sunday, March 11, 2018
Today is Sunday March 11 2018 as we record this, I’m Jonathan Marks, the producer and presenter of a programme called Media Network. Early on Saturday morning March 10th, I got a tip off from Rocus de Joode, a colleague who used to work in RNW frequency bureau. He told me to get in the car and drive to see what is left of the Flevoland shortwave transmitter site. There were reports a few months ago that the new owner, the Dutch Ministry of Defence, wanted to take down the towers. It was going to take a couple of months. So I packed a camera and headed for the Juttepeerlaan in Zeewolde, only to discover that everything except the transmitter building has gone. It’s as though the giant antenna masts never existed.
Now I remember that group of us ham radio operators were looking rather jealously at those curtain arrays. And on February 16 and 17th 1985, when the station was doing its first test transmissions, a group of us got permission to misuse the facility for that weekend. I decided to try my hand at live broadcasting for the first time, and so we did all the Saturday transmissions in English live from the new transmitter site. I kept two tapes and if you promise to remember that this is 33 years ago, when there is no mobile phone, no Internet, and no skype. Each show was actually broadcast over the old Lopik facilities. I’ll come back at the end to tell you how you can get in touch with us and we gradually relaunch the programme.