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Belgian Radio Marks 100 Years

Stations join to celebrate centennial

March 28 marked 100 years of radio in Belgium.

On that date a century ago, the country’s first trial broadcast was aired from the Royal Palace of Laeken. Today, the medium in Belgium attracts more than 4.2 million listeners.

To kick off the celebration, French-language broadcasters held an exposition entitled “Vu à la radio” (“Seen on the radio”).

Francis Goffin, radio director at public-service broadcaster RTBF who is behind the exhibition initiative, invited his colleagues from commercial networks Bel-RTL, Radio Contact, NRJ and Nostalgie to join the project — they are competitors when it comes to audience ratings but are teaming up to celebrate the medium. The Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel also took part, spreading the message to local and independent radio stations in Wallony and Brussels.

The expo, which ran until April 27 at the Tour et Taxis complex in Brussels, focused on the origins of radio and radio waves, wireless transmission, propaganda, radio studios and the launch of commercial radio in Belgium.

“Dutch-language broadcaster VRT was invited to join in but decided to set-up a separate program for the radio centennial,” said François Henrard, radio project manager at Tempora, the exhibition organizers.

VRT is holding its own — interactive — exposition “R100+,” which opened on March 28 and will run until Sept. 1 at the Radiohuis in Leuven, where visitors can discover the first radio broadcasts, listen to the first radio sports report and produce their own commercials.

All of VRT’s radio channels devote airtime to the centennial celebration with live broadcasts from the Radiohuis.

Like its French-language radio colleagues, VRT has teamed up with commercial broadcasters Q-Music, Joe FM and Nostalgie join in the celebration.

— Marc Maes