Music box from the very first radio jingle in Museum Speelklok

In 1919, Hanso Idzerda made the first Dutch radio broadcast. He starts that broadcast with the sound of a music box: the very first radio jingle. This special music box can now be seen in Museum Speelklok. It also featured in the TV programme Jekels Jacht on Dutch national TV.

Muziekdoosje en foto van Hanso Idzerda
Muziekdoosje van Hanso Idzerda

First radio connections

At the end of the 19th century, telegraphy and telephony provided communication at a distance, but only with the help of a network of cables. In 1896, the Italian physicist Guglielmo Marconi succeeded in sending signals wirelessly. In addition to governments and armies, amateurs also quickly started working on these radio connections. It turns out not to be complicated to make a receiving box with which telegraph signals can be received. In 1906, the American Reginald Fessenden also succeeded in broadcasting voice and music. He is responsible for the world’s first radio broadcast, on Christmas Eve he gives a speech and plays a piece on his violin.

First radio broadcast in the Netherlands

In 1907, Hanso Idzerda (1885-1944) studied in Bingen (Germany) and came into contact with radio telegraphy. In 1913 he started his own telegraphy company, with which he built devices for defense, among others. He is also active as an amateur, but at the beginning of the 20th century it was still forbidden for amateurs to listen to telegraph signals. In 1916, Idzerda was even given a one-month suspended prison sentence for violating this ban. This listening ban was lifted at the end of 1917. In 1919, Idzerda was the first Dutch person to present a radio telephone station at the Jaarbeurs Utrecht, with which voice and music could be broadcast. On November 6 he broadcasts the first Dutch radio program. He places an ad for this in the newspaper on November 5. The program lasts from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM and consists of pieces of music played from a gramophone record. To start his program, Idzerda uses a music box!

The world’s first jingle

Idzerda starts his radio broadcast on November 6, 1919 with a short melody on a music box. The melody comes from an operetta by Leo Fall, die Dollarprinzessin. And he always does that from now on. You could call him the first person in the world to use a radio jingle: a short piece of music that is a recognizable starting point for a program. Only later does this become common and the jingle actually gets its name. Unfortunately, there are no recordings of the first radio broadcast, but the music box has been preserved and can therefore be seen in Museum Speelklok in the coming months. And because it still plays the melody live, we can now, more than a hundred years later, hear exactly what the very first radio jingle ever sounded like. Listen here:


Sources: Advertisement for the first Dutch radio broadcast, Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant, November 6, 1919. Hanso Idzerda. 100 years of radio broadcasting, Gidi Verheijen, 2019. How the world’s first radio jingle can be listened to again after 100 years, Marieke de Ruijter, EenVandaag, 04-11-2019