Radio Netherlands, the Dutch international service, went off the air for the last time on 29 June 2012, at 20:57 UTC. Presenter Jonathan Groubert (right) and producer Rob Kievit get ready for the final nine minutes. (Photo: Jonathan Marks)
In the Radio Netherlands building, the 29th of June was an emotional day. The Indonesian, Latin American and Sarnami radio services said goodbye to their audiences with live broadcasts, produced not in the studios, but in the corridors of the building. These had been transformed into a festive venue – quite a feat, given the usual stern look of grey marble floors, modern minimalist decoration and matter-of-fact atmosphere. The party feeling was heightened by Indonesian, Latin American and Surinamese (because of the Sarnami) food.
If you want to see what it looked like, go and see the photos on the official Radio Netherlands Facebook page.
The English service’s closure was marked by a high tea, and an official farewell speech by the former head of RNW English, Andy Clark. Around the time that the last English shortwave broadcast to Asia began elsewhere in the building, he commemorated our predecessor, station PCJJ which first broadcast to the world in English from the Netherlands in 1927, and the start of RNW’s English service in February 1947.
The idiosyncracies of international broadcasting even affected the RNW party on 29 June. If the actual closure of the English service had been included in the festivities, the party would have lasted from noon until eleven PM… That would have been too much, even for the most determined RNW party-goer. Hence the decision to split the ceremony and the actual last broadcast of RNW’s English service.
Andy Clark and Louise Dunne in the lobby of the RNW building in Hilversum, Holland
If you missed it, you can listen to the Farewell and Thank You programme here.
Following that programme, Radio Netherlands’ last words were broadcast live from Cell 4 in the Network Operations Centre (NOC). The people of NOC, by the way, were the unsung heroes who made sure that the signals coming from RNW’s countless studios were connected to the right transmitters, at the right time.
Jonathan Marks, RNW’s former programme director and former head of English graced us with his presence, and he did not just come for the champagne. In the true radio spirit he produced a 20-minute report on how the final words on RNW were conceived and broadcast. You get a glimpse behind the scenes, extending beyond the moment that Radio Netherlands left the airwaves.
Jonathan’s report is here.