Radio Netherlands Worldwide

This article is about the former international broadcaster. For 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
15 April 1947
Dissolved 31 December 2012
Replaced PCJJ/PHOHI (Philips Radio)
Replaced by RNW Media

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, but as a non-governmental organization under the name RNW.


Broadcasting to the Dutch Colonial Empire by Philips Radio

Following a series of experiments on various wavelengths in 1925, reports of good reception from a low-power shortwave transmitter were received from Jakarta on March 11, 1927. Dutch Queen Wilhelmina made what is believed to be the world's first royal broadcast on 1 June 1927, addressing compatriots in the East and West-Indies.

Regular international broadcast transmissions started shortly afterwards from the Philips shortwave transmitter in Eindhoven.[3] They used the callsign PHOHI for broadcasts in the Dutch language to the Dutch East Indies - now Indonesia) and PCJJ for broadcasts in English and Dutch to the rest of the world.

The Philips company in Eindhoven saw a market for its radios in the Dutch colonies. Their Research Labs got support from companies who were trading good between The Netherlands and Batavia (now Indonesia). The PHOHI was officially founded on 18 June 1927. In 1928, test transmissions commenced from a site in Huizen, Noord Holland. It was chosen because of the high water table on the land near the Zuyderzee lake (now Gooimeer). This meant there was a good conductivity for an efficient earth, which lead to stronger signals in the target areas.

Around 1929, the Philips call sign was simplified to PCJ.

There were several prewar technical innovations:

The Research Laboratories continued with the development of new transmitters that could operate at shorter wavelengths and could be re-tuned for broadcasts to different parts of the world. By the end of 1936, the power had been raised by connecting a stage with two water-cooled type TA 20/250 valves. This provided a power output of 60 kW at a frequency of 15220 kHz and immediately became the strongest short-wave transmitter in Europe. In 1937, this transmitter was moved from Eindhoven to the PHOHI Transmitter Park in Huizen.

Dutch broadcasting in exile

Broadcasts from the Netherlands were interrupted by the German invasion in May 1940.[3] There were three transmitters in operation at that time. On the afternoon of May 14, the Dutch military commander gave orders that the transmitters should be destroyed, to prevent them falling into the hands of the Nazis. After several attempts, which included calling in the help of the Hilversum firebrigade, two of the three transmitters were completely destroyed. The third was only partially damaged and later used by the Germans for pro-Nazi broadcasts, some originating from Germany. There were also relays of music concerts from Dutch broadcasters operating 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 from London to a liberated Eindhoven and began broadcasts as Radio Herrijzend Nederland.[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) and gave it the mandate for both domestic and international broadcasts.[3]

Later, under pressure from the pre-war Dutch broadcasting companies, 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, language services in Arabic and Afrikaans (1949), French (1969) and Brazilian Portuguese (1974) were added.[3]

During its entire broadcast history, 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 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.

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 their "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 who signed off for the last time have been posted by Jonathan Marks, the former Radio Netherlands Programme Director (1992-2003) and host of Media Network.[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.


Language Date of launch Date of closure
Afrikaans 1949 ?
Arabic 1949 ?
Brazilian Portuguese 1974 ?
Dutch 15 April 1947 May 11, 2012
English 15 April 1947 29 June 2012
French 1969 ?
Indonesian 15 April 1947 29 June 2012
Spanish 15 April 1947 1 August 2014

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 presenter Keith Perron revived the "Happy Station" from its new home base in Taipei, Taiwan, the Republic of China. The company is called PCJMedia.

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


  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. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 "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.
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