AMERIKA! - Radio-Feature-Workshop
When the world’s first radio broadcast took place in Boston, more precisely in Brant Rock / Massachusetts, on December 24, 1906, the inventor and at the same time the world’s first presenter, Prof. Reginald Aubrey Fessenden, could hardly have guessed that his country, the USA, would develop the medium of radio into a mass communication medium reaching everyone in just one and a half decades.
For a long time, the radio pioneers in Australia and Europe looked enviously at this America. While extensive negotiations were still going on here about which broadcasting stations could be subordinated to which ministry, the first series had long since been started in the USA, not to mention wish concerts. Even telephone conversations were part of American radio’s repertoire from the very beginning. In Germany, the presenters at that time still sounded as if they wanted to move whole stadiums full of listeners to a common hand movement or a choral “yes”.
Radio history today celebrates the year 1923 as the birth of radio art - the first radio play went on air at the London BBC in October. It was called Danger and played completely in the dark - so that every listener could put himself in the place. After all, there was nothing to see.
In America at the same time, however, the radio people had long since been overturning while playing with listening. Advertising was the engine here. And so American radio was for a long time closely connected with things that listeners knew from everyday life: Coke and hamburgers, coffee and bagels.
Now this is by no means meant to be a hymn to the first years of American radio - and yet I find something of this fascination for American radio in my earliest associations with America: this uninhibited and surprising. America was always called only one percent known - it was clear that it had to be much more than I could imagine.
Indians and forest, later desert, later Alaska - then settlement, conquest too, …
And even later the school knowledge: America fought wars - Vietnam, Korea, guilt in Chile, Cuba and and and …
And then I went there - to America; to only one city, Chicago; with a dash of Detroit; for one month in total.
And now America is once again what it was in my earliest memory: inconceivable; inconceivable rich and diverse, aggressive and peaceful, endless and narrow - all in one - and simply inconceivable.
I’ve grown accustomed to percieving America as a series of excerpts or clips. And when I get a hankering for excerpts then I sink into America*s radio landscape – with ist over 200 stations alone Chicago. Then it becomes audibly possible to see America.
I’m touring as a youth exchange project supervisor with Participants from Luxembourg, Austria, Poland and Germany. What is America, what is the USA in comparison with that experienced here at this moment? America form e is nothing real. America is the fantasy of somethin uncertain, or perhaps an image on TV. Or perhaps this America is also a crazy soap opera, of which I already missed a bunch of instalments.
Ralf Wendt and Udo Israel led the radio feature workshop America! from 01.-05.09.2008.