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‘Dean’ of Dutch-language radio broadcasts still rides airwaves

Helps keep the Dutch-language alive in North America

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

SCARBOROUGH, Ontario - It has been 45 years since an acquaintance asked bookkeeper Jack (Jaap) Brouwer if he would be interested in taking care of a Dutch-language radio program. Not waiting for an answer either way, Weston-based entrepreneur Anne de Boer of Jabo Imports added, “If you agree, I will sponsor it.” The part-time endeavour of the Vlaardingen-born emigrant eventually turned into a busy, full-time career with Radio Nederland Wereldomroep.

Twenty years later, De Boer had another idea for Brouwer, which resulted in the launch of “Zingend Geloven,” a weekly Christian program which continues to attract a substantial audience. Brouwer had not given any consideration to his 45th broadcasting anniversary.

In recent times, word of mouth has given 'Zingend Geloven' airtime on additional stations in the general Toronto vicinity giving the program the appearance of a syndicated production. Since its beginning the program has been supported by a few sponsors who felt the need to reach out with Dutch psalms and hymns, which are broadcasted along with a short meditation by one of a small pool of local Reformed ministers. The program now has a growing number of people contributing to the increasingly costly service. The popularity of the program is best summarized with the standing-room only annual events at Redeemer College auditorium when about 1,000 people attend a sing-along of songs they at other times only hear on the radio.

Since his start at Oshawa’s CKQS in 1955, Brouwer’s radio career eventually went fulltime when he became the producer and distributor for Wereldomroep’s “Holland Calling” which in various languages was aired on stations across Canada. He represented Wereldomroep till his retirement in December 1992, when the Dutch shortwave broadcaster phased out its Canadian office. Brouwer who was inducted as a Knight into the Order of Orange Nassau shortly after, continued with Zingend Geloven.

Now at 78, the dean of Dutch radio program hosts in North America still enjoys producing his popular weekly show and hopes that in the years to come it will be self-sufficient with listeners financing the non-commercial program.

Brouwer’s wife Lenie continues to distribute tapes of a Dutch-language church service.