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ZEEBRUGGE, Belgium — Under the banner “Offshore Days 2021, the Summer of Radio,” the legendary offshore radio station Mi Amigo International gathered some of its most popular DJs to host one week of broadcasts from a mobile studio on the Zeebrugge beach promenade.
Radio Mi Amigo was launched in 1974 and broadcast from the eponymously named vessel off the Dutch coast. At the time, programs were pre-recorded in studios in the Netherlands and Belgium and transferred to the radio-schooner. Later on, programs were recorded in Playa d’Aro (Spain), brought to the Benelux coast by Europabus, and smuggled on board of the radio-vessel. Authorities halted the broadcast-ship near the Dutch coast in 1979. This marked the end of the station’s high sea broadcasts.
The “Offshore Days” were launched by former original Mi Amigo presenters. A first edition was set up last year in a dedicated Mi Amigo pavilion in Blankenberge on the Belgian coast, followed by a Christmas edition “Offshore Days Wonderland” in a studio in Lint.
The “2021 Summer of Radio” broadcast kicked off Sunday, Aug. 8, offering a full week of programs between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Iconic Dutch-language offshore DJs such as Norbert, the station’s first ever DJ, pioneer Frans van der Drift, Marc Jacobs, Bart Van Leeuwen, Ferry Eden, Eric Hofman and Ton Schipper hosted the event. From 8 p.m. onward, British radio presenters Paul Newman and Steve Foster of Mi Amigo 6085 took to the microphone.
“The program roster also included some historical broadcasts by deceased radio-legends like Stan Haag and Peter Van Dam we retrieved from the original tapes on the Mi Amigo ship,” explained the Offshore Days press agent.
“All other programs were broadcast live, either in the Zeebrugge mobile studio, or like in the case of the British presenters, via stream. The popular midday show ‘Baken 16’ (Beacon 16) was hosted by Bart Van Leeuwen from his studio in Hilversum and Marc Jacobs working in Zeebrugge.”
The Offshore Days studio was housed in a van supplied by Event Trailer Services, specialized in outside broadcast applications. The setup consisted of two Soundcraft SAC200 consoles, four Sonifex Micro HS series jingle cartridge machines, CAD VSM1 tube microphones with Orban 787A processing. All the music content was played out via a Gasteropod Cue 1.7 engine.
New DAB+ Audience
Mi Amigo’s studio signal was transmitted using a secure internet connection to the 6085 kHz Rohde & Schwarz SK1 transmitter at the Kall-Krekel shortwave service transmitter park in Germany.
Alongside the broadcasts on Mi Amigo International shortwave 6085 kHz/49 meter band frequency, Offshore week was also distributed on the station’s webstream. Some 10 Dutch low-power AM stations rebroadcast the Mi Amigo signal. In addition, the programs were available via DAB+ in the Netherlands where media entrepreneur Herbert Visser (from Slam FM and 100%NL) donated one week of airtime on the 7D DAB+ channel.
“We noted that, thanks to DAB+, we attracted a huge group of new listeners who re-discovered Mi Amigo again. We know our regular listeners from our shortwave broadcasts, but DAB+ really boosted our audience,” said presenter Eric Hofman.
“They don’t make these kinds of programs anymore — this is true ’60-’70’s personality radio and we’ve received a massive response.”