Active collections in 2014
I do a lot of work with organisations trying to turn a passive archive of content into an active reference source. Rather than just talking about it, I am using various tools to conserve and digitize the Media Network archive of programmes. These were radio shows that I compiled, wrote and presented during my tenure as Programme Director with Radio Netherlands Worldwide (which was known as Radio Nederland for most of my tenure). Thanks to those who helped make the Wikipedia entry.
The results of this work are now in iTunes (search for Media Network Vintage), or you can go to the special website of Media Network Vintage Radio Podcasts to browse more than 350 individual editions. I have been delighted that several thousand people have expressed interest in this safari into media nostalgia. I am now doing follow-up interviews, to find out what has happened since some of those features were made. In the meantime, we have had over 147,000 downloads. I think that says something about the quality of audience participation in the latter part of the last century. When you empower people, many become involved!
This site is a project started four years ago in early February 2010 – an experiment which is so far working well. It is simply 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. The difference is that these programmes are now available as high quality MP3 files, many of them in stereo. My aim is to present these programmes simply for academic purposes only.
Background in Brief
Media Network was launched on May 7th 1981 on Radio Netherlands English Service, building on the rich heritage of programmes that went before it.
We ran on the wireless until October 26th 2000 with more than 1000 editions. I was particular proud to work with media strategist Diana Janssen, who co-hosted the programme from 1995-2000.
Media Network continued after 2000 as a webpage and then an active Weblog, run by Andy Sennitt. In April 2012, when Andy retired from Radio Netherlands, the Media Network weblog service was first mothballed and is now offline. Radio Netherlands itself has ceased to be in its current form and is morphing into another organisation. We’re curious to see what they will become.
What did the show achieve on the radio?
Media Network was one of the first international communications magazines of its time. Today, shows like This Week in Tech have pioneered new ways to build communities. While I hosted and produced the programme, it would have been impossible without a network of volunteer monitors, reporters and researchers located all over the globe. 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 been slowly digitizing the tapes as part of my research into international broadcasting and where it might go after shortwave. I believe that a visual component is going to be far more important than it was, especially as the cost of HD cameras has plummeted. Personally, I find it amazing to relive this era, especially as most of it was pre-Web, pre-Skype, pre-YouTube, pre-email. 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. Looking at the site stats, it would seem that around 15% of the subscribers are downloading via iTunes. The rest do so directly from the site.
Please tell friends about this site and encourage them to subscribe. There are also radio related videos which I made more recently over on my video vault. This podcast publishing system archives editions on a monthly basis, showing only the latest editions on the home page.
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 left and all the editions will be listed. Note that programmes are now archived under the months in which they were published. You can also subscribe in iTunes by searching for “Media Network Vintage” from within the iTunes store. As each “new” edition is published, it will download automatically to your MP3-player or iPad.
As of February 2014, the most popular programmes have been those on
- Wartime Deception,
- Propaganda Past and Present,
- Broadcasting in Indonesia,
- Mysteries behind the number stations,
- Radio London (offshore station)
- and the RNI Libya programmes from a ship.
Will this material ever be mainstream?
No, because it was never intended to be “mass media”.
I know some of the material there 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.
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.