From pirate of the Netherlands to trafficking in Radio

By his own admission, Raoul Wedel wasn’t a very good broadcast engineer. 

“I started out as a young kid playing around with CB radio, ham radio and stuff like that. Commercial radio wasn’t allowed in Holland yet. 

“There were a lot of pirates (radio stations) – not the pirates on the ocean but land based pirates. They were doing pretty well, generating revenue. The government was shutting everybody down. It was quite big. Every major city in Holland with populations over 100,000 would have several pirate stations. The most famous ones got caught maybe 120 times.

“They’d have several locations. They would take away the transmitter from one side and reinstall it on the other side. In the beginning they were just paying fines but they were doing very well financially generating 100s of 1000s in revenue.  

“What they did to put a stop to it was to make it illegal to advertise on the radio. So, they went after the advertisers and that was the end of it,” explains Raoul.

Well, not quite. So called “hobby pirates” still abound in Holland but they pose little threat to legitimate licence holders says Raoul. “They’re just like a big beer party out in the countryside with a couple of hundred people, a 20kw transmitter and a 50 metre high mast for weekends.”

It was the Dutch government’s intention all along to properly licence commercial stations. But while the drafting of complex legislation was going on, it was important to shut down the illegal operators before the new licences were issued.

When the government started releasing commercial licences in the late 1980s and early 90s, Raoul applied for one and started exploring the latest technologies. “I went to the NAB in the U.S. where I saw one of the first radio automation systems called Pristine Systems. It was a DOS based system that controlled some CD players. I thought that’s great, I should have that for my own radio station. But maybe there’s a business in selling that.” 

Now Wedel Software operates in 25 countries offering media solutions for large scale traffic management, revenue generation and tracking. “We do about 1000 to 1200 stations. Some of the larger groups have 80 – 100 stations,” says Raoul Wedel. “Of course, we’re based in Europe, so Europe is pretty big. We also have some big groups in Latin America and recently have some new customers in Australia – Rebel FM, Crocmedia, 2SER and JoyFM.”

Wedel Software is an advertiser on and

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