Dutch Language Blog

50 Years 3FM – Some Dutch radio history Posted by on Oct 3, 2015 in Culture

This week, Dutch radio channel 3FM turned 50 years old. The public channel is one of the most popular and hip ones on the air, in particular with its by now legendary morning show host Giel Beelen. Its main audience is today’s youth, 15-35 year-olds. A lot of different styles are played, from rock to house, from hip hop to indie.

The current 3FM logo (Image by Edo Dijkgraaf at Flickr.com)

It all started in 1965, when 3FM was called Hilversum 3. Since 3FM, and then Hilversum 3, It had a much more rigid program, the so-called vertical programming. It meant that each omroep had its own day. Now, what is an omroep? It is a broadcasting corporation, of which there are many in the Netherlands. This is due to its divided society in the past. During the verzuiling (pillarization) in the last century, many of such omroepen came into existence, such as VPRO, VARA, AVRO, NCRV, TROS, EO, KRO, and others. All these omroepen had their own day of radio, with their own messages and views to the listeners. However, the news, provided by the omroep NOS, was broadcast Monday through Saturday, 6-7 PM. A lot changed after the end of 1985, when Hilversum 3 continued as Radio 3.

In the 1990s, Radio 3 saw its listener numbers drop, due to the rise of commercial radio. The channel needed a more “hip”, updated image, which was achieved with a slogan (“De jongste zender van Nederland” – the youngest channel of the Netherlands) and a new logo. It also focused more on festivals, pop music, and new, unknown music, as well as keeping older “classics” on the air.

In 1994, the channel was renamed Radio 3FM, as the channel became available on FM tuning, and thus throughout the country. The addition FM was added for emphasis.

In 2003, the focus became more on music, and to let the name of the channel flow more, it was shortened to 3FM, with a new slogan: “Serious Radio“. Also, its motto became “als je van muziek houdt, dan luister je naar 3FM“. 3FM went through some difficult time here, as the programming changed a lot of times around that time, and the well-known faces of the channel left. This gave room for new, younger talents for the channel, however.

In 2014, the official name was changed to NPO 3FM, but it is still known as just 3FM. (the NPO was added, since all Dutch omroepen were put together under one umbrella, NPO). In the past five years, the channel has been very successful, winning several awards. Giel Beelen, the important morning anchor, won in 2007 two awards: one for best anchor, and one for best radio show. 3FM consistently stays in the top 5 of most listened radio channels in the Netherlands.

Giel Beelen (Image by Jos van der Hoek at Flickr.com)

Ever since 2004, the channel organized Serious Request, which is an event where three DJs are locked up in a glass house in a center of a Dutch city. During this period, they don’t eat. This event is held every year to raise awareness and (a lot!) of money for projects of the Dutch Red Cross. Until 2014, more than 70 million euro was collected!

And so this past week, this important channel turned 50 years old. It was close to vanishing, and came back completely. It changed faces a lot, but in the end, it is a great channel!

Here some impressions of the “opening party” the Serious Request events are:




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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.