Saturday, March 3, 2018

Radio Netherlands Worldwide Retrospective

Radio Netherlands Worldwide (Radio Nederland Wereldomroep) was one of the first, if not the first QSL card(s) I received in 1968 or 1969. The Flevoland (Holland) transmitter site was a powerhouse that radiated well into North America, even when RNW did not use its relay station in Bonaire (Netherlands Antillies). Of all the shortwave broadcasters, I probably listened to RNW more than any other station.

Back then, there were at least three programmes I listened to regularly. The Happy Station hosted by Eddie Startz, then Tom Meijer, was a regularly heard each week, as was DX Juke Box with hosts Harry van Gelder and Jim Vastenhoud. On a few occasions I requested a couple of songs, among these "Temma Harbour" performed by then pop singer Mary Hopkins, which RNW duly broadcast. This aired over a programme hosted by Jerry and Dody Cowan.

As the 1970s rolled along, I managed to QSL short-wave broadcasts from their relay facilities in Bonaire (opened in 1969) and Madagascar (opened in 1972). Sadly, the short-wave relay station in Bonaire was closed and installations dismantled in 2012. RNW also used a short-wave station in Flevoland (Holland) from 1985 to 2007, which was also QSLed.  And, a number of short-wave transmissions were relayed through an extensive network of partner stations.

Aside from the Bonaire and Madagascar relay sites, RNW also used shortwave facilities in Agingan Point, Saipan, (North Mariana Islands), Tinang (Philippines),  Trincomalee (Sri Lanka), Santa Maria de Galeria (Vatican), Dhabbaya (UAE), and Medorn (Palau), all of which were received and QSLed in Malaysia.

While the short-wave service of RNW  ceased in 2014, a 70th Anniversary -- "Radio Nederland Wereldomroep 70 jaar" -- broadcast was transmitted  by former staff members of Radio Nederland Wereldomroep in April 2017. This broadcast aired from an original RNW broadcast van outside the Schagen Car Museum, using the facilities of Shortwave Service ( in Euskirchen, near Bonn, Germany. This transmission was received in Malaysia using an SDR receiver based at the University of Twente (Holland). HERE is an excerpt from that broadcast. It gives an idea of RNW in its heyday.

Of course, unmistakable was the interval signal of Radio Netherlands Worldwide. It was a version of the Eighty Years' War song "Merck toch hoe sterck" played on a carillion. The original recording was made at the cathedral in Den Bosch. It was replaced in August 1987 by a recording of the carillion in Breda.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide (Radio Nederland Wereldomroep) was one of the greats in the short-wave era of international broadcasters, and is much missed on the airwaves today.

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