Breakfast chat with Stijn Van de Voorde: “I was never afraid of being fired”

Exciting week for radio presenter Stijn Van de Voorde. On Thursday andFriday his theater performance ‘For Those About to Rock More’ will premiere inthe Ghent Vooruit, followed by an extensive tour through Flanders. “I realizeI have a really cool job.”

Where most Breakfast chats take about an hour, I am still talking to Stijn Vande Voorde after more than two hours. Especially about music, about StudioBrussel, but also about travelling, photography and plans for the future. Itsoon becomes clear that the radio presenter is passionate about hisprofession. That he will set the Vooruit on fire in a few days, too.

On Thursday you will premiere ‘For Those About to Rock More’, the highlyanticipated sequel to ‘For Those About to Rock, I Salute You’. Are thereexciting days leading up to such a premiere?

“Absolute. Exciting and cool. Although I feel more comfortable now because Idid ten try-outs for the first time – which is not my habit. As a result, Iwas able to fine-tune the performance better and I have more control over theshow. I know it really well now. Thanks to that preparation, there istherefore less tension. Besides, I don’t have much time to get nervous.Nowadays I present daily between 4 and 6 pm on the DAB channel _The Timeless_from Studio Brussels. Then I have to hurry to Ghent. So there is no time forstress.”

Honestly? I think television is an old-fashioned, slow and inflexible> medium”

You bring a live show about rock ‘n’ roll and all the bizarre, witty andmoving stories that go with it. But the difference with the previous show isthat now mainly women are featured.

“After my first show, some people pointed out to me that there were very fewwomen in the show. It was, but I didn’t mind. For me it was purely about themusic, not about gender. But I did start to think about it: why is it that in_The Timeless 100_ only five or six women standing? Why is it that we don’timmediately think of women when we hear music from the last century? Verysimple: because men kept women small and ensured that women could not make toomany decisions for themselves. There are plenty of examples of women beingsabotaged in the music industry. But there are also plenty of examples ofwomen who have put music on the map. Sister Rosetta Tharpe, for example, ablack American woman who has been extremely important in the history of rockand roll. In my new performance I tell how difficult it was for women in thelast century to break through in the music business.”

This will be your first achievement of 2023, but how do you look back on thepast year?

“2022 was a very interesting year. For the first time it was a normal festivalyear again. It struck me enormously how quickly we had adapted to ‘normal’again. I myself had experienced the corona time as a quiet, quite pleasanttime. I know it was terribly difficult for a lot of people, but I found aperiod of rest in it. So last year I struggled a bit with the question: am Igoing to be very busy for myself again?

And what is the answer to that?

“It will probably be a mix of quiet moments and busy periods. I’m starting atheater tour in a few days and would actually like to make a new book aboutmusic. I read a lot of musical biographies myself, I watch a lot of musicaldocumentaries. And sometimes I think: why does no one know this story? I canhardly stand that. So maybe I should start another book. Other than that Ihope this year The Timeless to develop further. That is a DAB channel thatnot everyone can listen to in their car. It must become a full-fledgedchannel. That will come, because DAB is the future.”

And are there any TV plans?

“Just before corona, I was about to leave for a new musical documentary seriesfor VRT NU, which is now called VRT MAX. I made that under the banner ofStudio Brussel, but at a certain point the VRT decided that the audio brandswere no longer allowed to make video. Too bad, because I thought that wasreally cool to do. That wasn’t even necessary for television, because to behonest I think TV is an old-fashioned, slow and inflexible medium. But I findVRT MAX interesting. I would like to make a music program for that.”

Have you ever been afraid of losing your job? The VRT recently evicted awhole generation of over-40s.

“What happened at the VRT with those redundancies was an interesting fact.Interesting to see how some media – which have been screaming for years thatpublic broadcasters get too much money – screamed murder and fire. While thefact that the VRT receives less and less money is the only reason for thoselayoffs. Personally, I was never afraid of being fired, because in the radiolandscape they couldn’t fire anyone without canceling programs. I also haveadded value as a music journalist. When well-known musicians die, there has tobe someone on the news service who can tell about it. But of course it canalso happen to me one day, such a dismissal. Then maybe I should go back toteaching. I did that once, even before I started on the radio. Two years full-time and two years part-time.”

**’ For Those About to Rock More’ will premiere on 12/1 and 13/1 in Ghent andthen continue throughout Flanders. Tickets via . **