Stations Celebrate Belgium’s Centennial
BRUSSELS — This year marks 100
years of radio broadcasts in Belgium — the country now boasts more than 4.2
million listeners per day. Over the last few months broadcasters have celebrated the anniversary in a
number of ways, including special broadcasts and exhibitions.
Presenter and Producer Els
listeners a guided
of Radio 2 studios in
Antwerp on March
29. Photo by M. Maes
During the commemorative
expo “Vu à la Radio” (“Seen on the Radio”) held at the Tour et Taxis complex in Brussels, numerous radio
stations grasped the opportunity to set up live broadcasts from the spacious
studio at the site.
For the event, organizers set up an 180-square meter studio
on the exposition premises. Equipped with studio furniture, an audio control
room and sound reinforcement system, each station brought in its mobile
broadcast “plug and play” equipment.
Radio broadcasters such as Bel-RTL, Radio
Contact, TLM, Radio Nostalgie, Fun Radio, Radio Antipoda, RCF, Radio Campus,
Pure FM and Classic 21 broadcast live from the studio with an audience present.
Making use of an auditorium that holds 100 people situated in the Tour et Taxis
site, stations invited listeners to visit the exhibition and enjoy the live
The highlight of the series of celebratory
broadcasts was the joint broadcast of commercial network Radio Nostalgie and
public-service station Classic 21, celebrating 100 years of radio in Belgium.
Ysaye and Radio Nostalgie’s
Depasse share the antenna on March 2
à la Radio exposition. Marc Vossen, general manager
Belgium was invited to the show.
courtesy Classic 21
On Sunday, March 2 from 10 a.m. to 12.00 p.m.,
both stations shared the antenna for a unique simulcast, aired live on public Classic
21’s (part of RTBF) eight frequencies and private Radio Nostalgie’s 40 stations
in the south of Belgium.
Classic 21’s Station Manager Marc Ysaye and
Radio Nostalgie’s Producer/Presenter Brice Depasse hosted the program. “We took
great pleasure in setting up this project,” said Depasse. “We’ve known each
other for a long time but who could have imagined that we would team up to host
a show together?”
Depasse explained that the Classic 21 and Nostalgie styles
and music formats “were not that different —
we each have our own format but we managed to set up a broadcast that fit both
stations, and we had tremendous feedback. The Led Zeppelin track ‘Stairway to
Heaven,’ is a typical example of the type of music played during the historical
collaboration between the private and public stations.”
Presenter Evelien Mannaerts hosted Radio 2
drive show from the new studio in Hasselt. Photo by M. Maes
Pascal Decarpentrie was the exposition’s technician — he put in place the cabling and connections for the studio and
auditorium. “The studio was created as a ‘normal’ radio studio,” said
Decarpentrie. “In addition, we added a sound reinforcement system for the
audience. Stations could decide either to transmit their signal via ASDL or
Whereas the public stations and bigger networks
had their music playout system in their main studio, with just a basic setup
(mics, headphones, display) in the exhibition studio, smaller radio stations
brought in a complete mobile studio.
Radio Nostalgie kicked off its 25th anniversary
celebration with a “Vinyl Day On Tour” broadcast from the Tour et Taxis site.
“The Vinyl Day show was entirely produced in the expo studio,” said Thierry
Libert, technical director with Nostalgie and NRJ Belgique. “We adapted the
configuration and music, the jingles and the presenters went live on the air.
We used AETA codecs for the transmission of the signal via ADSL lines.”
Vu à la Radio, which ran from December 12 to April 27, drew in more than
20,000 visitors. “The fact that, today, over 15 percent of all advertising
expenditure in Belgium is channeled to radio illustrates the importance of the
medium.In terms of audience, the
average Belgian listens to radio about 30 hours per week,” said Francis Goffin,
CEO of RTBF’s radio division.
“And with the further development of the digital domain, the whole radio
sector (public and private) is poised to support Smart Radio as a future
medium. ‘Compete on content and cooperate on distribution technology’ will be
the new adage,” he said.
With the Vu à la Radio event focusing on the
French-language radio landscape, the Dutch-speaking stations developed their
own basket of events for the radio centennial celebration.
opening, Christophe D'Huysser
of Story Radio
interviews Jacques Vermeire, former
Radio 2 presenter.
Photo courtesy VRT
On March 12the
Flemish radio sector began its festivities. The iconic Flagey building (home of
the former VRT studio) played host to both public broadcaster VRT and
commercial broadcasters, including Q-music, Joe FM and Nostalgie. Some 800
radio professionals, audio production studios, advertising agencies and
broadcast veterans attended the event that was co-hosted by presenters of the
On March 28, exactly 100 years after the first radio broadcast in Belgium
took place from the Royal Palace’s gardens in Brussels, VRT opened R100+, an interactive
exposition on radio and radio production running until Sept. 1. The exposition
includes a vintage 1938-built radio studio and genuine radio gear. In a
separate interactive part of the exposition, visitors are invited to put
together their own radio show.
While VRT dedicated quite some airtime to the R100+ celebration, the
commercial broadcasters stuck to their normal roster. “We didn’t plan anything
special in our programming,” said Tom Clercks, program director for Q-music and
“We limited ourselves to participating in the Flagey-celebration, but the
R100+ festivities represent more a of public radio story than a private one — although we have written a
substantial part of the commercial side of radio,” Clercks added.
Other initiatives included VRT Radio 1 airing a 13-week special series on
the history of radio in its Sunday evening “Memento Mori” program, while Studio
Brussel (StuBru) broadcast from the Radiohuis in Louvain on April 1.
The country’s leading Dutch-language radio station Radio 2 opened its
doors in all of its regional stations on March 29 and also inaugurated two
brand new on–air studios in Hasselt and Kortrijk.
The new studios are part of a general makeover of all of Radio 2’s
broadcast infrastructure, and mark the switch to new DHD MX52 control desks.
Radio 2 Kortrijk became one of the first VRT studios to have the new Dalet+
playout system operational.
Marc Maes reports on the
industry for Radio World from Antwerp, Belgium.
Vintage radio gear on display
at the R100+ expo in the RadioHuis in Louvain. Photo courtesy VRT