The Dutch company Philips began its broadcast to the Dutch East Indies in 1927.

These antennae allowed the live broadcast of radio programs from the Netherlands to be sent directly to the Dutch East Indies (what is now modern-day Indonesia).

Revolving antenna of the PHOHI-PCJ transmitter for shortwave connection to the Dutch East Indies, 1940. Manufacturer Jacques Stevens. Source: Regional Archive Gooi and Vechtstreek, identification number SAGV032.5, item number 4200

Shortly after this the French also setup their radio stations in Indochina.

And the British then began the Empire service of the BBC.

Local radio stations were also built, like this photo below. This was the government Radio Laboratory in Bandung in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).

Radiolaboratorium van de Gouvernements Radiodienst te Bandoeng Persistent URL :
Telefunken hoogfrequente machine en een schakelbord in radiozendstation Tjililin van de Gouvernements Radiodienst bij Bandoeng Persistent URL :
Shortwave senders.
Machinegalerij met bedieningstafel en schakelbord in radiozendstation Malabar van de Gouvernements Radiodienst bij Bandoeng. Oud albumnr 3/291. Radiostation Malabar en overige stations op de Bandoengsche Hoogvlakte. Gouvernements Post – Telegraaf en Telefoondienst in Nederlandsch-Indië. Bandoeng, juni 1928. Radio Malabar: herinneringen aan een bloeiende tijd 1914-1945 / Klaas Dijkstra. – Groenlo: Emaus, 2006. Persistent URL :

It did not take long before the locals followed suit. The indigenous residents in Southeast Asia recorded their own music and built their own radios.

Sultan Mangkunegaran VII of Solo in Java, for example, sponsored the Solo Radio Vereniging (SRV which translates to Solo Radio Company) which by 1933 started to air in the Javanese language transmitting traditional Javanese music, and Javanese cultural programming. Its purpose was to counter Dutch colonial culture. In this picture, you will see princess Goesti Raden Adjeng Siti Noeroel Koesoemowardani (daughter of Sultan Mangkunegaran VII) speaking in front of the microphone of the SRV.

Princess Goesti Raden Adjeng Siti Noeroel Koesoemowardani (daughter of Sultan Mangkunegaran VII) speaking in front of the microphone of the Solo Radio Vereniging (Solo Radio Company). Photo: KITLV

Local anti-colonial ideas were also aired in these radios, although they were often censored by the European colonial government.

With radio signals travelling across territorial boundaries, it was also common for the different Southeast Asian colonies to listen to their neighbor’s popular music.

They would hear about the local struggles in the neighboring territories. For example, during the Philippines’ struggle for independence from the US in the 1930s and 1940s, neighboring countries like Indonesia would listen to the events on their radio.

President Quezon reads a radio message to the Filipino people from the Malinta Tunnel. Behind him is his executive secretary, Jorge B. Vargas. 20 Dec. 1941 (Filipinas Heritage Library – Photo ID – HI00434)
The senator (Sergio Osmeña) from Cebu tries the radio facilities at the Philippine Press Bureau in Washington, D.C. (1924). Sergio Osmeña would become the fourth president of the Republic of the Philippines from 1944 to 1946. (Filipinas Heritage Library – Photo ID – PP00614)

In her article, [Sound Bite] Producing local popular culture from colonial radio found also on this website, Elizabeth “Besty” Enriquez describes the popularity of local popular music that often has subversive elements in them. Betsy describes refers, for example, to Katy de la Cruz, pictured here who was a popular singer on radio during the American colonial occupation in the Philippines.

Katy de la Cruz in the 1920s

In the Hörspiel Intereferences, I also interviewed three radio experts. You will find their bios and photos here:

dr. Elizabeth Enriquez
 (University of the Philippines Diliman)

dr. Vincent Kuitenbrouwer
 (University of Amsterdam)

Teilhard Paradela
 (University of British Columbia)