At one time, countries would broadcast international radio programming, some for political reasons, others for propaganda, and some for tourism. All of them promoted the virtues of their country, and chosen medium was shortwave radio.
Few radio enthusiasts can be unaware of the international shortwave stations, and as well as their current affairs and news programmes, they aimed special programmes at shortwave listeners.
One of the early shortwave broadcasters was from the Netherlands, which started experimental broadcasts in 1925. Regular international broadcast transmissions started shortly afterwards from the Philips company premises in Eindhoven,
In March 1927, a message in Dutch, was aimed at what is now Indonesia: “Hello Dutch East Indies, here is PCJJ, the shortwave transmitter of Philips in Eindhoven, Holland!” . The next day a short telegram was received from Indonesia –“shortwave-signal magnificent".
It wasn't until after World War II, that Radio Nederlands Wereldomroep was officially formed, but one programme that had been running since almost the start of shortwave broadcasting was the show "Happy Station".
First heard on 19th November 1928, and presented by Eddie Startz, the show featured popular music from Europe and other countries, features and vintage recordings. There were separate English and Spanish language versions, as well as a multi-lingual version.
Happy Station became popular as it gave listeners a chance to travel in their armchair during a period when international travel was costly and difficult for most people. In particular, the Startz-era of the show featured special formats such as a voyage by sound where Startz narrated tours to distant locations assisted by sound effects. Later, the show pioneered international call-in shows, in both the English and Spanish versions, during the 1970s. The show feature a light entertainment format with special guests, music, and information about Dutch life. Edward "Eddie" Startz presented the programme from the start, until he retired in December 1969. Tom Meyer took over the English and Spanish versions of this Sunday show, of "Smiles across the Miles", until he retired in 1993.
Happy Station continued with Pete Myers and Jonathan Groubert for the English version, and Jaime Báguena hosting the Spanish version, La Estación de la Alegría, until the end of the 1990's when the Radio Netherlands management, decided to finish the programme.
In the new century, Radio Netherlands discontinued their shortwave broadcasts, partly for financial reasons, and with the internet providing a more cost effective way of reaching an international audience.
During the 1970's and early 80's, my late father kept up a correspondence with Happy Station, and it's then presenter Tom Meyer, visiting the station on a couple of occasions. These postcards and QSL cards represent what was probably a golden period of shortwave listening.
Happy Station 5-1-1961
Happy Station 8-6-1970