In this issue, we have channeled our industry’s energy and enthusiasm for change
This is the first of a two-part article. Read the second article here
ANTWERP and BRUSSELS — Nostalgie brands are modernizing their on-air studios. Targeting the Flemish region, Nostalgie Vlaanderen launched its new facilities in June. Nostalgie Wallonie, based in Brussels, eyes the 55+ French-language audience and will launch its new studio in November.
Despite the same brand name, the two Belgian Nostalgie entities are quite different. This is true both in terms of ownership and the stations’ sound color and speech/music ratio.
Vlaanderen Eén, with shareholders Mediahuis (75%) and NGroup (25%) own Nostalgie Vlaanderen’s license. NRJ Group and Mediahuis, each 50%, own Nostalgie Wallonie. Both broadcasters operate a dozen of thematic digital channels alongside broadcasts on FM and DAB+.
In terms of audience, Nostalgie Wallonie is the market leader in the South of Belgium, with a solid audience share of nearly 15%, according to the most recent CIM/RAM survey published Aug. 21. In Flanders, Nostalgie Vlaanderen enjoys a position in 7th place in the rankings with 7.4% of the audience.
The new Nostalgie Vlaanderen on-air studio is the third radio facility in the Mediahuis-site on Antwerp’s left bank. The broadcaster based the new studio’s configuration on “lessons learned” from NRJ Vlaanderen’s facility that became operational early last year.
“We decided to continue the AoIP path we took when we started to work on the NRJ main and backup studios,” said Luk De Groote, technical manager for NRJ and Nostalgie Vlaanderen. “That studio provided a firm basis to continue with — apart from the investment, technically speaking, we had to copy/paste most of the technical equipment.”
The Nostalgie Vlaanderen studio was the last of its on-air facility broadcasting with DHD equipment in the chain. Today, the complete NRJ/Nostalgie radio landscape is based on Lawo Ruby and Lawo’s Ravenna technology.
“Both NRJ studios have been using the technology since 2019. Nostalgie Vlaanderen was using one of these studios with a DHD set-up. Next we built a new, third studio and incorporated the DHD gear. In June this year, we installed the Lawo Ruby configuration in what became the Nostalgie on-air room,” De Groote explained.
Nostalgie Vlaanderen’s on air set-up consists of two Labo Ruby AoIP mixing surfaces, connected with Lawo Power Core, Adderlink XDIP PoE KVM connectivity, four Neumann TLM102 mics on Yellowtec Mika arms and AdamA5X monitor speakers. Two Technics SL1200 vinyl turntables complete the layout. Like with NRJ’s on air studio, Nostalgie Vlaanderen is using MultiCAM Radio for visual radio and Zenon Media radio software as the playout system.
De Groote added that, for the new studio, they replaced the twin Symmetrix 2X voice processors with Sound4 Big Voice processors. “The Symmetrix were no longer available — and the Sound4 is a perfect alternative, with the same results.”
Taking the right decisions during the configuration of the IP network was crucial in building the Nostalgie Vlaanderen on air studio. “When we completed the NRJ studio, we managed, together with our technical team, to deal with bugs and other technical problems. The studio has been continuously on air since day one and works in a stable environment,” continued De Groote.
“Bearing this in mind, the integration of the Nostalgie Vlaanderen facility was a piece of cake, and completed in three weeks.”
The three Mediahuis radio studios are fully compatible and can serve any brand. This includes the live broadcasts like from the annual Nostalgie Beach festival, which implements Lawo Ruby technology. “Our weekly Friday night show “Viva Vinyl” is using Lawo Vis Tool. Presenter Dominique Crommen hosts this vinyl-only show from his home studio, taking control of Nostralgie’s Lawo Ruby in our on-air studio,” said De Groote.
“With this third studio, we made our radio structure futureproof,” added Tom Klerkx, managing director of Nostalgie and NRJ in Antwerp. “Next up is a new playout system replacing our Zenon Media software. We’re currently checking the possibilities that best fit our needs.”
“We indeed use quite some vinyl records in our programs — and the two Technics turntables are more than decoration,” agreed Tina Van den Meersschaut, program manager for Nostalgie Vlaanderen.
“Music remains the crucial ingredient – contrary to our fellow Nostalgie station in the South of the country, where personality branding is part of the strategy, our classics are accompanied by minimal interventions by the presenters.”
At press time, Nostalgie Vlaanderen announced its new program roster. A big novelty is the “country’s earliest morning” drive show. “On Aug. 17 at 5 a.m., presenters Herbert & Astrid launched their four-hour weekday show. We decided to move the show one hour earlier so it begins at 5 a.m. not at 6 a.m.,” explained Van den Meersschaut. “The idea is that we want to connect with our listeners more rapidly offering ‘A’-classics for people who are on the road, at work…It was a determined choice to anticipate on the ‘early birds’.”
Van den Meersschaut wants Nostalgie Vlaanderen to make the difference with the new roster. It focuses on music in the station’s “office blocks” (10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.). Marcia Bwarody and Johan Henneman present the show. “These two presenters convey a relaxed atmosphere, making the music the key element,” she says. “For the evening drive, we rely on Bjorn Verhoeven, who hosts three hours of ‘feel good’ classics.”
Nostalgie Vlaanderen’s core audience is the 35- to 54-age-bracket, the active people with grown-up children and enjoying ‘me-time’ and memories. “We don’t want to become a station sounding too old fashioned. The disadvantage and advantage of a ‘nostalgic’ station name is that we manage to offer a dynamic program on air,” underlines Van den Meersschaut.
The station’s mission, according to Van den Meersschaut, is clear. “We want to offer an alternative to the daily news and make life pleasantly bearable. In these Covid 19 months, we noted that people became tired of hearing the daily figures. So we deliberately chose for another path and the audience has thanked us for it.”
The Nostalgie Vlaanderen’s investment in the new strategy paid off. “We’ve done quite some work on the playlist, re-worked the balance between the decennia, stressed the importance of kicking off every hour with a “sure shot” track, a renewed jingle package and the new program roster are crucial elements that are poised to continue Nostalgie Vlaanderen’s ongoing audience growth that started 11 years ago,” said Van den Meersschaut.
Stay tuned for the second part of this article where we share details on how Nostalgie+ is finalizing its on-air studio in Brussels.