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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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)
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