Known by many as Radio Veronica's chief engineer, Jose van Groningen sadly lost a battle against cancer, passing away of Friday 2 March. Jose's engineering expertise was not limited to Veronica, and he was much in demand in the world of offshore radio, as Robert Magniez recalls in this exclusive tribute from OEM 122.  

Extracts :

Extract 1: ...During the evening of July 22nd 1989, I got a phone call: “You have the possibility to visit the Communicator tomorrow. Are you interested?” Of course, my answer was “Yes”, but with a condition: to take photographs, but not necessary to reproduce them...

Extract 2 : .... The fact is that on a very nice summer Sunday morning I found myself in front of the Communicator, alone in a lost part of the North Sea, far offshore, between Dunkirk and Belgium, and away from the shipping lanes. The weather was rather beautiful and I started to take photos of the ship. I had the feeling of being rather privileged: I was the first one to see the Communicator back at sea. During the trip I learnt that not only was I the first to see and visit her, but I’ll be also the only one, as the ship was about to leave the North sea for Portugal where the ship was due to be dry docked and re-equipped. ...

Extract 3 : ...Alone on his knees in front of the transmitters, a man is working beside giant electronic drawings. As soon as we arrived, Jose left his schematics and welcomed us friendly. In fact he was a little bit surprised to discover a “stranger” with Fred. But what was of the most interest to him was that mysterious box that Fred brought from land. (...) He opened it and extracted a large grey metallic box that he put religiously on the floor in front of the transmitters. On the front panel we can read “Optimod AM Orban”. I was not so enthusiastic as José as this was not really revolutionary. We can find two similar things on board the Ross Revenge: these are the famous sound processing systems. Without knowing who I am, José started to explain to me the reason of his happiness in front of that apparatus. “This Optimod was on board the Radio Paradijs ship and it had been installed and tuned by myself. I don’t know how he managed this, but when I asked Fred that I needed an Optimod, he promised me he’ll find the one of Paradijs, and here it is, almost 10 years later!!”

Extract 4 :..He explained that three transmitters would take place on that basis inside the Communicator: “One of the transmitter is an FM with 30 kW and we’ll get an FM service as Paradijs should have had, the Laser Tx will be AM with 25 kW, another one also with 10 kW and the last one will be for the religious in short wave, a 10 kW too.” In 10 seconds and without asking anything, José had just told me everything that one could dream on the Communicators future: on board was planned an FM service, two medium wave ones and a short-wave one.

Extract 5 : ...And he made a drawing. He draws an antenna which goes from the base of the mast from the bridge and that goes up along the mast laying between cross sections. “This is what I had designed for Radio Paradijs and it worked fairly well.” I thought to myself that surely José had a revenge to take on what happened with Paradijs and that he’ll do anything so this revenge – technically as well as radiophonic – would take place. He reinforced his explanation by this demonstration...

Extract 6 : ...Our conversation ended there, as the tender was about to leave to avoid a night return. In a few seconds I found myself back on the other ship and I could see the Communicator fading away in the distance. I didn’t have the time to say goodbye to José. I could see him on the deck of the Communicator where he had made a pause in his work to wave me goodbye.

It was the first time I met José and this was the only one...


OEM. 2001. ©

The above photos are the only ones showing José at work on board the MV Communicator.

Read the  entire tribute to José Van Groningen in OEM 122