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

Stijn Van de Voorde: “There are plenty of examples of women being sabotaged in the music industry.” (photo SB)

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

Where most Breakfast chats take about an hour, I am still talking to Stijn Van de Voorde after more than two hours. Especially about music, about Studio Brussel, but also about travelling, photography and plans for the future. It soon becomes clear that the radio presenter is passionate about his profession. 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 highly anticipated sequel to ‘For Those About to Rock, I Salute You’. Are there exciting days leading up to such a premiere?

“Absolute. Exciting and cool. Although I feel more comfortable now because I did ten try-outs for the first time – which is not my habit. As a result, I was able to fine-tune the performance better and I have more control over the show. I know it really well now. Thanks to that preparation, there is therefore 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 for stress.”

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 and moving stories that go with it. But the difference with the previous show is that now mainly women are featured.

“After my first show, some people pointed out to me that there were very few women in the show. It was, but I didn’t mind. For me it was purely about the music, 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’t immediately think of women when we hear music from the last century? Very simple: because men kept women small and ensured that women could not make too many decisions for themselves. There are plenty of examples of women being sabotaged in the music industry. But there are also plenty of examples of women who have put music on the map. Sister Rosetta Tharpe, for example, a black American woman who has been extremely important in the history of rock and roll. In my new performance I tell how difficult it was for women in the last century to break through in the music business.”

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

“2022 was a very interesting year. For the first time it was a normal festival year again. It struck me enormously how quickly we had adapted to ‘normal’ again. I myself had experienced the corona time as a quiet, quite pleasant time. I know it was terribly difficult for a lot of people, but I found a period of rest in it. So last year I struggled a bit with the question: am I going 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 a theater tour in a few days and would actually like to make a new book about music. I read a lot of musical biographies myself, I watch a lot of musical documentaries. And sometimes I think: why does no one know this story? I can hardly stand that. So maybe I should start another book. Other than that I hope this year The Timeless to develop further. That is a DAB channel that not everyone can listen to in their car. It must become a full-fledged channel. 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 series for VRT NU, which is now called VRT MAX. I made that under the banner of Studio Brussel, but at a certain point the VRT decided that the audio brands were no longer allowed to make video. Too bad, because I thought that was really cool to do. That wasn’t even necessary for television, because to be honest I think TV is an old-fashioned, slow and inflexible medium. But I find VRT 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 a whole 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 that public broadcasters get too much money – screamed murder and fire. While the fact that the VRT receives less and less money is the only reason for those layoffs. Personally, I was never afraid of being fired, because in the radio landscape they couldn’t fire anyone without canceling programs. I also have added value as a music journalist. When well-known musicians die, there has to be someone on the news service who can tell about it. But of course it can also happen to me one day, such a dismissal. Then maybe I should go back to teaching. 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 and then continue throughout Flanders. Tickets via www.stijnvandevoorde.be .

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