Radio Netherlands Worldwide
TypeInternational public broadcaster
Launch date
15 April 1947
Dissolved31 December 2012
Official website
Radio Netherlands Archives
ReplacedPCJ/PHI (Philips Radio)
Replaced byRNW Media

Radio Netherlands (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 from 1947 to 2012.

Its services in Dutch ended on 10 May 2012. English and Indonesian language services ceased on 29 June 2012 due to steep budget 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) on 1 August 2014.[2] It was replaced by RNW Media, a Dutch governmental organisation for free speech and social change around the world.[3]


Early days (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 11 March 1927.[citation needed] 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.[4] They used the call sign PHOHI for broadcasts in the Dutch language to the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), and PCJJ for broadcasts in English and other languages to the rest of the world.

The Philips company in Eindhoven saw a market for its radios in the Dutch colonies. Its research laboratories received support from companies that were trading goods 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, North Holland. It was chosen because of the high water table on the land near the Zuiderzee lake (now Gooimeer). This meant there was a good conductivity for an efficient earth, which led 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[5] 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.[4] 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 fire brigade, two of the three transmitters were completely destroyed. The third was only partially damaged and was later repaired and 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.[4] The programme Radio Oranje was a daily commentary[7] on the Dutch situation both in the Netherlands and the rest of the empire (Dutch East and West Indies).[4] 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.[4]

Birth of Radio Netherlands Worldwide

On 24 May 1945, a programme for Dutch people living abroad was transmitted with the help of the BBC.[4] 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.[4]

Later, under pressure from the pre-war Dutch broadcasting companies, the government decided to separate national and international broadcasting.[4] On 15 April 1947, the Stichting Radio Nederland Wereldomroep (Radio Netherlands International Foundation) was established.[4] Broadcasts in Dutch, Indonesian, English and Spanish began in that year.[4] Subsequently, language services in Arabic and Afrikaans (1949), French (1969) and Brazilian Portuguese (1974) were added.[4]

Radio Netherlands was editorially independent and received 6% of the Dutch annual 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 carillon. The original recording[8] was made at the cathedral in Den Bosch. It was replaced in August 1987 by a recording of the carillon[9] in Breda.

End of radio broadcasts

The English-language shortwave broadcasts to North America were discontinued on 26 October 2008, due to a survey that claimed that more listeners listened to RNW podcasts than listened on shortwave radio.

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

On 11 May 2012 at 20:00 GMT (22:00 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.[10] On 29 June 2012, Radio Netherlands ended broadcasting in English at 20:57 GMT (22:57 CEST) after a similar celebratory 24-hour broadcast.[11] The final show was posted online by Jonathan Marks, the former Radio Netherlands Programme Director (1992–2003) and host of Media Network.[12]

Since 2013, RNW's funding had been under the responsibility of the Dutch Foreign Ministry rather than the Education and Culture Ministry.[13]

Shortwave relay stations

The shortwave international broadcasts were heard worldwide via broadcast facilities in Bonaire (opened in 1969) and Madagascar (opened in 1972).[4] The last transmission from the shortwave relay station in Bonaire ended at 1:57 GMT on June 30, 2012,[14] and the installations were dismantled later that year.

In 2013, the government of Madagascar and Malagasy Global Business S.A. signed an agreement to operate the Madagascar relay station in Talata-Volonondry. Among its customers are NHK Radio Japan, BBC World Service, Deutsche Welle, Vatican Radio, Adventist World Radio and Free Press Unlimited.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide used a shortwave station in Flevoland from 1985 to 2007.[4] The shortwave transmissions were supplemented by an extensive network of partner stations.


Language Date of launch Date of closure
Afrikaans 1949 ?
Arabic 1949 2012
Brazilian Portuguese 1974 1994
Dutch 15 April 1947 11 May 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 English-language output included news and current affairs, as well as documentaries and programmes about the Netherlands, Europe, culture, music, the media and international affairs. The station developed a reputation for providing unique, objective and high-quality public radio, garnering dozens of international awards for its productions. When the station closed down, the extensive English-language multi-media archives were deleted, but a group of former employees has made over a thousand of documentaries and radio programmes available again.[15]

DX Juke Box was a media show that ran from 1961 with Harry van Gelder (1911–2003) and Jim Vastenhoud through to 7 May 1981, when the name and format was changed to Media Network. Jonathan Marks took over in August 1980 and re-launched the show less than one year later by adding news/topical features. He produced over 1000 editions of the programme. It became 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 available online.[16]

Happy Station Show was another long-running popular radio show, originating on the network's predecessors in 1928 and continued until 1995.

From 1976 until his death in 1998, Pete Myers was a prominent presenter and producer in the English section, including as a presenter of Happy Station for two years.

See also


  1. ^ "Radio Netherlands Worldwide says goodbye to its audiences". June 14, 2012. Archived from the original on June 18, 2012.
  2. ^ "El último Toque" (in Spanish). El 1 August 2014. Archived from the original on 5 August 2014. Retrieved 3 August 2014.
  3. ^ "RNW Media".
  4. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 11 August 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  5. ^ "Philips Historical Products". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-12-16.
  6. ^ Marks, Jonathan (November 11, 2006). "Media Network Series Two: Official Handover of Two Towers".
  7. ^ "The Media Network Vintage Vault 2021-2022: Media Network: A Voice from Across the Water".
  8. ^ "RNW - Radio Nederland Wereldomroep (Tune Jaren '70)". Archived from the original on 2021-12-12 – via
  9. ^ "The Media Network Vintage Vault 2021-2022: MN.06.08.1987.BellsfromBreda".
  10. ^ "RNWs Dutch-language service falls silent" Archived 2012-05-12 at the Wayback Machine, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, May 11, 2012
  11. ^ "RNW-Program line-up for the last day of broadcasting". Archived from the original on 29 June 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  12. ^ "Radio Netherlands Signs Off in Style". 29 June 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  13. ^ "Sweeping changes for RNW as it falls under the axe" Archived 2011-07-05 at the Wayback Machine, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, June 24, 2011
  14. ^ "Farewell to RNW shortwave broadcast from Bonaire". Archived from the original on 2021-12-12 – via
  15. ^ "Radio Netherlands Archives". Radio Netherlands Archives.
  16. ^ "Media Network Vintage Vault 2018-2019".