Wednesday, March 8, on International Women’s Day, we paid a visit to 100%NL’s radio studio. We spoke to founder Herbert Visser about the origins of 100%NL and the power of radio. Wondering what Herbert’s tip is for the future generation?
Can you tell a bit more about 100%NL, when and how was 100% NL created?
A major frequency division was coming up in 2003, just as it is this year. At the time, the government had thought of holding a “beauty contest” in which plans could be submitted for certain music formats. One was “Dutch-language music,” and we thought we could make a good bid book for that. And it took a while but in the end we won that tender process because we actually came out on top with our plans. That it was at least a workable plan is proven by the fact that we are now literally 20 years on.
What is your motivation and what do you want to convey?
We are 100% NL but we are also SLAM! and Sunlite. Those are our 3 main brands. Twenty years ago, our motivation was to make very nice radio. But now we have transformed into a full multimedia media company with, in addition to the radio stations, 100% NL TV and SLAM!TV; and we are also very active with our brands 100% NL, SLAM! and Sunlite on social media. SLAM! in particular is a popular player on platforms such as Instagram, YouTube and TikTok with fun videos aimed at a relatively young target group. The motivation is to let as many people as possible enjoy the radio and video productions we make. And as for propagating: we want to do that in an inoffensive way. Everyone should feel welcome with us and, above all, stay with us.
What is so fun/interesting (to outsiders) about working at a radio station?
It is mostly an informal world. I can’t speak for public broadcasting but in commercial broadcasting only those people are hired who are actually needed, and they are then given a lot of responsibilities and their own area within which they have to row with the oars they have. On the one hand, that can be tricky because you can’t just throw a bag of money over the fence; on the other hand, it gives you a lot of freedom to come up with your own creative solutions. In particular, people who dare to take the initiative themselves can feel like a fish out of water at a commercial radio station.
Wednesday, March 8, we visited your radio station in connection with International Women’s Day, do many women work at 100%NL?
Yes. Speaking of 100% NL: at the moment it happens to be mostly male Djs that we have but in the past it has happened several times and for longer periods at 100% NL that the Djs were mostly women. But the producers who come up with the topics for our radio programs and arrange any guests and thus put their decisive stamp on the broadcasts are women. All the music on 100% NL is selected by Bodine Hordijk, and that’s a woman, too.
What do you think is the power of radio?
In radio, not only do you get really fun music, but you also get updated on the most important news developments in the world and you hear other fun topics that often incorporate current events. Music is obviously very important but so are the other fun program elements. And the greatest thing about radio is that it is the only entertainment product where you can do something else yourself, such as cook food, mow the lawn, wash dishes, read a book or magazine or, of course, work. Listening to a podcast is a little different because there you have to stay focused listening. Nor do most TV shows or a streaming service like Netflix really lend themselves to the background. With radio, you can do that: listen to the radio while doing something else.
60% of your listeners are women, do you consciously include this percentage in your program?
Yes indeed! We make every effort to keep these listeners listening to us for as long as possible. We do frequent music research to find out which songs they like best. And also with the topics covered in the radio programs, we look at how to present it in such a way that they best appeal to our female listeners.
How do you like the collaboration with Broadcast Partners, can you tell a bit more about that?
That collaboration goes back to the very beginning of 100% NL. All those dozens of broadcast towers scattered throughout the Netherlands that hurl the programs of 100% NL, SLAM! and Sunlite into the ether is still a complex piece of technology. It is therefore very nice for us that there is a specialist company in the form of Broadcast Partners that takes those technical worries out of our hands and makes sure that people all over the Netherlands can receive our programs on their radios. We make our radio programs in our studios and from there Broadcast Partners makes sure that the programs appear on the air all over the Netherlands.
What are your further future plans? Or do you have any tips for the future generation?
The tip for the future generation is that “radio” will remain an interesting medium even in the distant future. Like newspapers, the medium of “radio” has been declared “dead” on several occasions. That began in the 1950s when TV came on and many radio stars of the time switched to television. But “radio” reinvented itself and where at first droves of people listened to radio in the evening it later happened during the day. In the early 1970s, the cassette tape was invented on which you could record your own music, and many people at the time saw that as the end of radio. In the 1980s, MTV started putting music videos on TV all day long so it was heard that that would finally mean the end of radio. MTV also began its broadcasts with a song by The Buggles called “Video Killed the Radio Star.” The song became a big hit, but mostly thanks to radio. Then in the 1990s came the MP3 player on which you could really put a lot of songs so now it would finally be the end of radio. And another 15 years later, Spotify and other streaming services began that would kill radio.
Right now there are those who say podcasts will be the end of radio. But what we see is that the number of people in the Netherlands listening to the radio every week remains at a very high level at 13 million. And that advertisers also continue to find their way to the medium of radio. So don’t be fooled: the medium of radio will continue to be a very important medium in the decades to come, and Broadcast Partners will make sure that listeners in their cars and at home can continue to pluck all those great programs from the airwaves.