Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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Radio Netherlands Worldwide
Type International public broadcaster
Country Netherlands
Availability International
Owner Government of the Netherlands
Launch date
1947 (absorbing Philips Radio)
Official website

Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW; Dutch: Radio Nederland Wereldomroep) is a public radio and television network based in Hilversum, producing 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.

On June 14, 2012, Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW) announced that it will end its Indonesian and English broadcast services on June 29, 2012, due to steep budgets cuts imposed by the Dutch government and a concomitant change in focus.[1] Earlier in the year, on May 10, 2012, the broadcaster ended its Dutch language service.

Due to government directives, the service adopted a new mandate to promote free speech in areas where people are not free to gather information or to form and express independent opinions.

RNW now produces programmes only in Spanish, Mandarin, French and Arabic for partner stations in the developing world. The only programme still broadcast on shortwave is a daily half-hour show in Spanish for Cuba.


Broadcasting to the Dutch Colonial Empire (1927–1939)[edit]

The Netherlands claims to have started the international broadcasting business, with regular transmissions starting in 1927 from the Philips shortwave stations PHOHI (in Dutch to the Dutch East Indies - now Indonesia) and PCJJ.

Happy Station Show, the international program on Sundays commenced in 1928 with host Eddie Startz. He spoke several languages, including Arabic, English, German and Spanish and called the re-christened (by international convention) station PCJ, station Peace Cheer and Joy.

Prewar technical innovation[edit]

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

Broadcasting in exile (1940–1945)[edit]

The Dutch government in exile was granted air-time on BBC transmitters in 1941. 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). 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.

The postwar era (1946–1989)[edit]

He began Radio Herrijzend Nederland in 1946 (from Eindhoven), moving the studios to Hilversum later the same year. The plan was to restart broadcasting along the lines of the BBC. Whilst this succeeded for the new external service, Radio Nederland Wereldomroep which was founded in 1947, political pressure led to the re-establishment of the complicated system of broadcasting societies sharing airtime on domestic networks.[citation needed]

The Internet age (1990–present)[edit]

Radio Netherlands Worldwide was always editorially independent from the Dutch government, being funded as around 6% of the public allocation for public broadcasting. Despite severe budget cutbacks in 2004, the station has maintained its standing as one of the more creative production houses in Europe. It also supports the development of new technology, such as webcasting, podcasting and Digital Radio Mondiale, which may ultimately replace analogue shortwave in many regions of the world.

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. As a result, Radio Netherlands ceased providing information for Dutch people living abroad or be "presenting a realistic image of the Netherlands to the rest of the world" and, after 2012, focus solely on "making information available in countries where free speech is suppressed or threatened". Six of RNW's 10 language services closed, including English and Dutch and the remaining foreign language desks of Spanish, Mandarin, French and Arabic had their staff reduced. All shortwave broadcasting ceased except for programming directed at Cuba. In addition, beginning in 2013, RNW's budget is provided by the Dutch Foreign Ministry rather than the Education and Culture Ministry[2]

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.[3] And on June 29, 2012, Radio Netherlands ended broadcasting in English at 20:57 GMT after a similar celebratory 24-hour broadcast.[4] 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).[5]

Shortwave relay stations[edit]

RNW studio

The shortwave international broadcasts were heard worldwide via broadcast facilities in Flevoland, Bonaire and Madagascar. In the last decade, the shortwave broadcasts were supplemented by an extensive network of partner stations. In 2005, this was approximately 5500 partners, of which half are partners that use the station's music output (classical, jazz and world music).

Radio Nederland carried speech programming on shortwave and satellite in the English, Spanish, Indonesian, French and Papiamento languages. Additionally, there were programme productions and websites in French, Arabic and Mandarin. Certain programmes were heard on local/national networks, such as CBC Radio, ABC NewsRadio and SAfm.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide had a weekly reach through all its language services, and music programmes, of around 50 million listeners a week.

RNW historical output (1950-1996)[edit]

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]
United States VOA, RFE/RL & Radio Martí 497 1,495 1,907 1,901 2,611 1,821
China China Radio International 66 687 1,267 1,350 1,515 1,620
United Kingdom BBC World Service 643 589 723 719 796 1,036
Russia Radio Moscow / Voice of Russia[3][1] 533 1,015 1,908 2,094 1,876 726
Germany Deutsche Welle 0 315 779 804 848 655
Egypt Radio Cairo (ERTU) 0 301 540 546 605 604
Iran IRIB World Service / Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran 12 24 155 175 400 575
India All India Radio 116 157 271 389 456 500
Japan NHK World Radio Japan 0 203 259 259 343 468
France Radio France Internationale 198 326 200 125 379 459
Netherlands Radio Netherlands Worldwide[1] 127 178 335 289 323 392
Israel Israel Radio International[1] 0 91 158 210 253 365
Turkey Voice of Turkey 40 77 88 199 322 364
North Korea Radio Pyongyang / Voice of Korea 0 159 330 597 534 364
Bulgaria Radio Bulgaria[1] 30 117 164 236 320 338
Australia Radio Australia 181 257 350 333 330 307
Albania Radio Tirana (RTSH) 26 63 487 560 451 303
Romania Radio Romania International 30 159 185 198 199 298
Spain Radio Exterior de España 68 202 251 239 403 270
Portugal RDP Internacional[1] 46 133 295 214 203 226
Cuba Radio Havana Cuba 0 0 320 424 352 203
Italy Rai Italia Radio[1] 170 205 165 169 181 203
Canada Radio Canada International[1] 85 80 98 134 195 175
Poland Radio Polonia[1] 131 232 334 337 292 171
South Africa Radio RSA / Channel Africa 0 63 150 183 156 159
Sweden Sveriges Radio International[1] 28 114 140 155 167 149
Hungary Magyar Rádió[1] 76 120 105 127 102 144
Czech Republic Radio Prague[1][4] 119 196 202 255 131 131
Nigeria Voice of Nigeria 0 0 62 170 120 127
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 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.

Programming on the English Service[edit]

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.[6]

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[edit]


External links[edit]