The flagship sails on

Some of us, the old Radio Netherlands crew, can’t live without creating radio programmes. Like Jonathan Groubert, who is producing new editions of The State We’re In, regular as clockwork.

In a partnership with WBEZ Chicago, the programme that was once hailed as Radio Netherlands’ ‘flagship programme’ sails on. The State We’re In, or TSWI for short, is available as a podcast at tswi.biz.

Jonathan has also created an archive for TSWI, where you can download all the editions produced for Radio Netherlands from 2009 up to Summer 2012: TSWI Archive on Dropbox.

The State We're In

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It’s over

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)

Radio Netherlands Signoff

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.

Image

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.

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New header photo

The header photo of this blog, which showed people you don’t know, has been replaced by a better picture of other people you don’t know.

Wrong! You do know them. Rightmost on the front row is Robert Chesal, for instance. Beside him is David Swatling. Behind David is Ginger da Silva. The slightly balding man in the centre of the back row is Jonathan Marks. Immediately in front of him is Dheera Sujan, in sunglasses, flanked by Chris Chambers (left) and Michele Ernsting (right).

See? You recognise those names, I guess. Do you recognise anyone else on the picture?

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A future for the past of Radio Netherlands

We’re pleased to announce that this blog can now be reached under a new URL: radionetherlands.org .

Although the blog has been quiet for a while, there is a lot to tell.

Of the former English section, most of the staff has been made redundant following the 70% cut imposed by the government. The English radio broadcasts ceased by 29 June 2012, and the English website rnw.nl will no longer report on Dutch current affairs, news and background. RNW.nl will continue as a website promoting free speech in Africa, the Middle East, China and Latin America. Two English radio programmes for Africa will continue online via rnw.nl.

On this blog, however, we look back with pride and a bit of nostalgia on the 65 years of Radio Netherlands as an international broadcaster.

[Edit, 2 March 2015: changed url to current one]

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Honey, I shrunk RNW

It’s been quiet here for a while, but behind the scenes we’re busy building the new Radio Netherlands Worldwide. A lot smaller, with fewer tasks and fewer people.

Not because we wanted to, but because we’ve had a 70 percent budget cut imposed on us.

So, what about RNW 3.0 then? Well, our main focus as an international medium will be on countries where free speech is under threat. We have meanwhile agreed that those are countries with a repressive regime, countries in chaos, and fragile democracies.

Using internationally agreed criteria, we have arrived at a longlist of countries we could target with our output. But we need to narrow down further: who are we targeting? And what with?

Hello? Anybody out there?
It’s all well and good, us in the Netherlands deciding what to give to the world, but what about the people at the receiving end? It would be nice to hear from people in the circumstances mentioned above. Who are you? Teachers, nurses, managers, soldiers, journalists? And what do you need that we can give? Radio programmes? E-mail newsletters? Tweets? And what about? Independent world news? Opinions about your region? Practical information?

Behind the scenes we’re talking about our audience. Let’s not forget to simply ask our audience what they want. Well, simply… it could prove a challenge to find out.

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The new RNW

Well, summer is over, the politicians are back from recess, and it’s now certain that we’re facing a 70 percent budget cut.

Two sets of talks are going on behind closed doors: one between RNW as an employer and the trades unions, about the way to implement these cuts: who will have to leave and who can stay.

The second string of talks is about the way the new, much smaller RNW will tackle its new tasks. What is clear is that the main focus will be on promoting free speech in areas suffering from censorship, oppression and taboos.

Would you like to know more? So would we, RNW employees. All we can do for the moment is to go on working for you, as we have done for 65 years, until the axe falls.

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You can help – Sign our petition

Thank you for checking in here. Since our previous post, RNW staff have launched a petition, hoping to convince the Dutch parliament that dismantling Radio Netherlands is a Bad Idea.

If you want to help RNW, you’re invited to sign the petition.

Thank you!

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Jasmin says: hands off RNW!

Jasmin Nanda is one of Radio Netherlands Worldwide’s staunchest supporters in India. On hearing of plans to cut back the funding of RNW, she kindly wrote to the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte:

 

Dear Mr. Mark Rutte,

Congratulations for VVD being the largest party to form the new Dutch government.
With victory come responsibilities to bring the economy on tract and also some harsh measures to achieve it.
I am a loyal visitor of Radio Netherlands Worldwide, your broadcaster and ambassador to the world, since 2003.
As you know that RNW broadcasts in 13 main languages of the world and is the window to the lovely Netherlands. It gives the Dutch news and Dutch perspective to the world news plus in a way advertises the Dutch culture in a positive way to the world.
The world has to learn a lot from the Dutch through RNW broadcasts in various languages- about tolerance, human rights, gay-lesbian rights, euthanasia, and Dutch way of living in a bold and beautiful way.
In a way RNW is boosting tourism and interest in the Netherlands, the way no department of tourism in the Netherlands can. They recently s[t]arted South Asia Wired to cover the South Asians. It is all going so nicely with expatriates and the global visitors exchanging news and views and enriching the website of RNW.
However, I read in an article that your party is mulling over the idea of doing away with RNW international broadcaster as an economic measure to boost the Dutch economy, which is very sad.
It will not only harm the Dutch image, as there is no other Dutch media that caters worldwide, but also harm hundreds of employees of RNW, majority of whom voted for your party the VVD.
Is the party rewarding them this way?
I read that you will generate more jobs for the Dutch, then why disturb those who are already gainfully employed?
About 43 million of the government’s broadcasting budget goes to Radio Netherlands Worldwide. You will certainly save 43 million, but at the cost of the millions of hearts of the Netherphiles who visit RNW and have visited your country, and at the cost of the hundreds of employees who will get fired…sadly.

My only request is that you should reconsider your views on this issue. In an age when countries are using media to bring the world at their doorstep, your measure will shut the doors of Netherlands to the world, just as China is doing or the Soviets did.

Thanks,
Best wishes,
Jasmin Nanda
India

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RNW opts for international focus

The Dutch government has committed itself to public spending cutbacks in a range of sectors, including public broadcasting. Radio Netherlands Worldwide has been making headlines in recent weeks amid speculation on where these cuts will fall.

The broadcaster has now issued a statement that, if faced with a choice between its core activities, it will dispense with its services informing Dutch-speakers abroad. In the statement, the director and editors-in-chief informed the staff about this decision. (8 April 2011)

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