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Radio 555 Unites 10 Dutch Stations to Aid Ukraine

Presenters from competing stations team up to raise €32 million for relief efforts

In response to the plight of people displaced due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 10 radio stations across the Netherlands joined their programs yesterday, Mar. 7, 2022. Presenters and reporters from competing stations teamed up for 15 hours of programming under the name Radio 555.

The goal of Radio 555 was to raise as much money as possible to support organizations providing aid to the people of Ukraine and neighboring countries where refugees are arriving. Organizations benefiting from the fundraiser include Caritas/Cordaid, Oxfam, Red Cross, Save the Children, Stichting Vluchteling, and Unicef. Together, the stations raised some €32 million ($36 million)

Radio 555 was part of the broader Giro555 “Together in Action for Ukraine” effort, which raised more than €106.200 million (nearly $115.7 million) on Mar. 7.

Listeners were directed to the website where they could make a donation along with a song request, and proceeds from all commercial breaks during the joint broadcast were donated to the effort.

Radio 10’s Gerard Ekdom (right) and Sander Lantinga from Radio 538 (middle) began the day’s Radio 555 broadcast. (Photo courtesy Radio 10 via Facebook)

The joint broadcast originated from the Action Center at Beeld en Geluid, the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, and ran from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Commercial stations 100% NL, Qmusic, Radio 538, Radio 10, Radio Veronica, SLAM!, and Sublime participated in Radio 555, along with the public-service channels NPO Radio 2, NPO 3FM, and NPO Radio 5. NPO Radio 2. It aired on all the stations’ FM, DAB+, and online streams.

In addition to the Radio 555 broadcast, commercial television channels RTL4 and SBS6 and the public-service channel NPO1 joined for a 90-minute program.

Given that the 10 radio stations have different formats and identities, ensuring a common sound for Radio 555 was a creative challenge, according to Sublime Program Director Rick Waltmann. “Each station normally has its own target demo and music format; varying from CHR to Oldies. Together we want to set the right tone, and appeal to as many people as possible.”

To achieve this, Waltmann worked with PURE Jingles to develop a full package of Radio 555 jingle themes, music beds, sweepers, and news, weather, and traffic imaging, which were recorded and delivered within a week.

Pairing presenters from competing stations created some unique moments for Radio 555, including reuniting Mattie Valk and Wietze de Jager who in 2017 had a falling out when Valk backed out of plans for the pair to jump from Qmusic to Sky Radio. Today, Valk is still with Qmusic while de Jager is at Radio 538.

“Giro” refers to money transfers and 555 is the bank account number used to support these relief organizations. Giro555 was chartered in 2007 and has regularly worked to support relief efforts in the wake of natural disasters and other humanitarian crises.

The organizations supported by Giro555 are present in the area themselves or work through local partners to provide immediate emergency assistance, including medical care, food, shelter and psychological and social support.

“As aid organizations we are deeply moved by the enormous support we express here in the Netherlands,” stated Kees Zevenbergen, action coordinator for Giro555. “A great signal of solidarity for the victims in Ukraine and the many hundreds of thousands of refugees. They desperately need our support.”

2022 was not the first time Radio 555 has been heard on Dutch airwaves. The joint broadcast for charity was first organized in 2005 to aid victims of the Dec. 26, 2004, Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that killed more than a quarter million people in 14 nations. It also activated after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

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