Friday, 16 February 2018


During the first half of August 1964 work continued on the REM-island off the Dutch coast. The antenna mast was completed and towered some 90m above the surface of the sea. The reinforced roof of the broadcasting and accommodation unit started to serve as a helipad and the official opening of TV Noordzee was set for September 1st. Every day after finishing my Summer job as a caddy at the Golf course in Knokke, I rushed home to point the rotary antenna in northeasterly direction, parallel to the coast, in the hope of catching the REM’s television debut. Each time I had my box camera at the ready. 

Then on Thursday August 13th the persistent background snow on the telly, purportedly some of the residual electromagnetic radiation left over from the Big Bang/Bounce at the start of the universe, was suddenly replaced by a picture perfect test card showing the sea, the REM-island and the lettering ‘tv NOORDZEE’. Media history was being made, but the start of television programmes from the offshore structure also caused dangerous waves in the Dutch parliament. 

Two weeks later the official opening of TV Noordzee started with Marjan Bierenbroodspot and Hetty Bennink welcoming viewers on a very windswept Rem-island. That was followed by a 20 minute documentary on the building of the broadcasting structure. Viewers in Holland were very enthusiastic about the TV-Noordzee programming which was aired before the official station Nederland 1 started its evening programmes and after this state-run broadcaster closed down around 22.00 hrs. 

To help finance the 9 million guilders REM-island operation, 7 million guilders worth of shares were issued. Such was the popularity of the project, that the issue was heavily oversubscribed. Many small investors became minority shareholders. On the date of issue, 13 August 1964, the share price was 20 guilders. As stated earlier, within 10 days, the value of the shares had rocketed to 143 guilders. 

By October 1964 audience surveys showed that TV Noord­zee had 2 million viewers every night. TV and radio from the REM-island were not on the air simultaneously. Radio Noordzee operated between 9am and 6.15 pm, and 15 minutes later the TV station signed on.

More of AJ's radio- and other anecdotes.

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