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Radio Netherlands Worldwide

This article is about the former international broadcaster. For information on its current incarnation as an NGO see RNW.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide
Type International public broadcaster
Country Netherlands
Availability International
Owner Government of the Netherlands
Launch date
Official website

Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW; Dutch: Radio Nederland Wereldomroep) was a public radio and television network based in Hilversum, producing and transmitting programmes for international audiences outside the Netherlands. Radio Netherlands Worldwide has also distributed content via web and e-mail technology from as early as 1992.

Its services in Dutch ended on 10 May 2012. English and Indonesian languages ceased on 29 June 2012 due to steep budgets cuts imposed by the Dutch government and a concomitant change in focus.[1] The last programme broadcast on shortwave was a daily half-hour show in Spanish for Cuba named El Toque (The Touch), which ended on 1 August 2014.[2]

Due to government directives, the service implemented a new mandate in 2013 to promote free speech and independent journalism using new media in areas where people are not free to gather information or to form and express independent opinions and ceased operations as a broadcaster. For information on RNW's current incarnation see RNW.


Broadcasting to the Dutch Colonial Empire by Philips Radio

The Netherlands started international broadcasting with regular transmissions starting in 1927 from the Philips shortwave stations PHOHI (in Dutch to the Dutch East Indies - now Indonesia) and PCJJ in Eindhoven.[3]

Prewar technical innovations were the following:

  • Broadcasts were considerably improved in 1937 with the construction of beam antennas supported by the world's first wooden antenna masts rotatable on two concentric circular rails at the transmitter site in Huizen.
  • Rotatable shortwave antennas were not in common use until the 1960s, so PCJ was far ahead of its time with its introduction of rotatable HRS type antennas.

Dutch broadcasting in exile

Broadcasts from the Netherlands were interrupted by the German invasion in May 1940.[3] The transmitters in Huizen were used for pro-Nazi broadcasts, some originating from Germany, others concerts from Dutch broadcasters under German control.

The Dutch government in exile was granted air-time on BBC transmitters in 1941.[3] The programme Radio Oranje was a daily commentary on the Dutch situation both in the Netherlands and the rest of the empire (Dutch East and West Indies).[3] One of the chief commentators on Radio Oranje, Henk van den Broek, was given the task of restarting public broadcasting once the country was liberated.

On 3 October 1944, van den Broek travelled to freed Eindhoven and began broadcasts as Radio Nederland Herrijzend.[3]

Birth of Radio Netherlands Worldwide

On 24 May 1945, a programme for Dutch people living abroad was transmitted with the help of the BBC.[3] In July 1945, the Dutch government founded the Stichting Radio Nederland in den Overgangstijd (Radio Netherlands in Time of Transition Foundation) which was in charge of national and international broadcasts.[3]

Later, the government decided to separate national and international broadcasting.[3] On 15 April 1947, the Stichting Radio Nederland Wereldomroep (Radio Netherlands International Foundation) was established.[3] Broadcasts in Dutch, Indonesian, English and Spanish began in that year.[3] Subsequently, services in Arabic and Afrikaans (1949), French (1969) and Brazilian Portuguese (1974) were added.[3]

Radio Netherlands Worldwide was always editorially independent from the Dutch government, being funded as around 6% of the public allocation for public broadcasting.

The interval signal of Radio Netherlands was a chime version of the Eighty Years' War song Merck toch hoe sterck.

End of radio broadcasts

The English-language shortwave broadcasts to North America were discontinued on October 26, 2008, due to a survey that claimed that more listeners to the network were using the "podcasting" service instead of shortwave radios.

On June 24, 2011, the Dutch government announced a 70% cut to RNW's budget reducing it from 46 million euros to 14 million.

On May 11, 2012 at 2200 CEST, the Dutch service signed off at the end of a 24-hour Radio marathon broadcast. This included several interviews with past staff members of the station, including the former Director General Lodewijk Bouwens.[4] And on June 29, 2012, Radio Netherlands ended broadcasting in English at 20:57 GMT after a similar celebratory 24-hour broadcast.[5] Interviews with the host Jonathan Groubert which signed off for the last time have been posted by Jonathan Marks, the former Radio Netherlands Programme Director (1992-2003).[6]

Beginning in 2013, RNW's budget is provided by the Dutch Foreign Ministry rather than the Education and Culture Ministry[7]

Shortwave relay stations

The shortwave international broadcasts were heard worldwide via broadcast facilities in Bonaire (opened in 1969) and Madagascar (opened in 1972).[3] The Shortwave relay station in Bonaire was closed and installations dismantled in 2012.[8] Radio Netherlands Worldwide used a shortwave station in Flevoland from 1985 to 2007.[3] The shortwave transmissions were supplemented by an extensive network of partner stations.

RNW historical output (1950-1996)

For a comparison of RNW to other broadcasters see;

Estimated total direct programme hours per week of some external radio broadcasters for 1996
Broadcaster 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 1996[2]
23x15px VOA, RFE/RL & Radio Martí 497 1,495 1,907 1,901 2,611 1,821
23x15px China Radio International 66 687 1,267 1,350 1,515 1,620
23x15px BBC World Service 643 589 723 719 796 1,036
23x15px Radio Moscow / Voice of Russia[1][3] 533 1,015 1,908 2,094 1,876 726
23x15px Deutsche Welle 0 315 779 804 848 655
23x15px Radio Cairo (ERTU) 0 301 540 546 605 604
Template:Country data IRN IRIB World Service / Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran 12 24 155 175 400 575
Template:Country data IND All India Radio 116 157 271 389 456 500
Template:Country data JPN NHK World Radio Japan 0 203 259 259 343 468
23x15px Radio France Internationale 198 326 200 125 379 459
23x15px Radio Netherlands Worldwide[1] 127 178 335 289 323 392
Template:Country data ISR Israel Radio International[1] 0 91 158 210 253 365
23x15px Voice of Turkey 40 77 88 199 322 364
Template:Country data PRK Radio Pyongyang / Voice of Korea 0 159 330 597 534 364
23x15px Radio Bulgaria[1] 30 117 164 236 320 338
23x15px Radio Australia 181 257 350 333 330 307
23x15px Radio Tirana (RTSH) 26 63 487 560 451 303
23x15px Radio Romania International 30 159 185 198 199 298
23x15px Radio Exterior de España[5] 68 202 251 239 403 270
23x15px RDP Internacional[1] 46 133 295 214 203 226
23x15px Radio Havana Cuba 0 0 320 424 352 203
23x15px Rai Italia Radio[1] 170 205 165 169 181 203
23x15px Radio Canada International[1] 85 80 98 134 195 175
23x15px Radio Polonia[1] 131 232 334 337 292 171
23x15px Radio RSA / Channel Africa 0 63 150 183 156 159
23x15px Sveriges Radio International[1] 28 114 140 155 167 149
23x15px Magyar Rádió[1] 76 120 105 127 102 144
23x15px Radio Prague[4] 119 196 202 255 131 131
23x15px Voice of Nigeria 0 0 62 170 120 127
23x15px Radio Belgrade / International Radio of Serbia 80 70 76 72 96 68

Source: International Broadcast Audience Research, June 1996

The list includes about a quarter of the world's external broadcasters whose output is both publicly funded and worldwide. Among those excluded are Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea and various international commercial and religious stations.


  1. Does not broadcast on shortwave as of 2014.
  2. 1996 figures as at June; all other years as at December.
  3. Before 1991, broadcasting for the former USSR.
  4. Before 1996, broadcasting for the former Czechoslovakia.
  5. REE ceased all shortwave broadcasts in October 2014 but announced in December that it would resume shortwave transmission in Spanish only for four hours a day in order to accommodate Spanish fishing trawlers who were otherwise unable to receive REE at sea.

Programming on the English Service

The Happy Station Show was a long-running popular radio show, originating on the network's predecessors in 1928 and continued until 1995. Popular music from Europe and various other countries was mixed with vintage recordings and multilingual chatter, switching back and forth between English, Spanish and Dutch, by hosts including long serving Eddie Startz and Tom Meijer each Sunday. It became popular since it gave listeners a chance to travel in their armchair during a period when international travel was impossible for most people. It also pioneered call-in shows, in both the English and Spanish versions, during the latter part of the 1970s. In 2009, Canadian born disc jockey revived the "Happy Station" from its new home base in Taipei, Taiwan, the Republic of China.

DX Juke Box was a media show on Radio Netherlands Worldwide that ran on the English service from its inception in 1961 with Harry van Gelder (1911–2003) and Jim Vastenhoud, through to May 7, 1981 when the name and format was changed to Media Network. The music was originally designed to attract younger listeners to technical features, with a lot of emphasis in the early days on DX tips and technical articles. There were also DX courses on basic electronics and propagation during the 1960s and 1970s. When host Jonathan Marks took over in August 1980, he re-launched the show less than one year later by adding news/topical features and eliminating the music. Media Network ran successfully for more than 1000 editions, before it migrated to a full-time website/weblog in October 2000. The blog was discontinued in 2012 as a result of budget cuts. The Media Network archive containing around 300 of the broadcasts is on line for the time being.[9]

In September 2010, RNW discontinued Newsline which had been its staple current affairs programme and also discontinued news bulletins. Instead, the service continued with music, literary and documentary-based programmes. Literary programmes Radio Books ended in 2010 and Commonwealth Short Stories ended the following year. . The environmental programme Earth Beat ended with the closure of the English service in June 2012 as did South Asia Wired. The State We're In, a coproduction with American public radio station WAMU-FM, was a programme about "human rights, human wrongs and how we treat each other" told from a first person perspective, continued for several months as a podcast and North American broadcast before ending in October 2012.

With the closure of the English service, regional English language programmes Bridges with Africa and What's Up Africa which had been produced and broadcast through local partner stations in Africa as well as online as podcasts, were discontinued.

See also

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  1. ^ "Radio Netherlands Worldwide says goodbye to its audiences". June 14, 2012. 
  2. ^ "El último Toque" (in Spanish). El 1 August 2014. Retrieved 3 August 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "History of Radio Netherlands Worldwide". Official website of RNW. 12 November 2009. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  4. ^ "RNWs Dutch-language service falls silent", Radio Netherlands Worldwide, May 11, 2012
  5. ^ "RNW-Program line-up for the last day of broadcasting". Retrieved 29 June 2012. 
  6. ^ "Radio Netherlands Signs Off in Style". Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  7. ^ "Sweeping changes for RNW as it falls under the axe", Radio Netherlands Worldwide, June 24, 2011
  8. ^ "RNW: Despedida de la estación repetidora de Bonaire" (in Spanish). Website of RNW. 30 June 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  9. ^

External links