California radio station brings cool music and ‘cultural exchange’ to Berlin airwaves

Now you don’t just have to get your news fix from The Local. KCRW went on air in Berlin on Monday, promising award-winning music shows and plans to delve into local current affairs.

California radio station brings cool music and ‘cultural exchange’ to Berlin airwaves
Photo: DPA
As Berlin’s intimidating winter spreads its chilly fingers over the city, it’s not only transplants from California who might start getting misty eyed at the thought of the balmy Pacific coast.

Luckily, Californian public radio broadcaster KCRW have chosen Berlin as the location for their first partner radio station outside the US.

“We wanted to continue the dialogue between the US and Germany, especially at this crucial time,” Susan Woosley, the station’s COO told The Local, explaining why they applied for the licence for the 104.1 FM airwave previously held by US public radio broadcaster NPR.

While she said that KCRW Berlin planned to “carry on the tradition of unbiased, intelligent reporting” that NPR stands for, they also want to bring in a broad mix of cultural and public affairs programming including “KCRW’s world renowned music offering”.

The Berlin broadcaster will be airing eight hours of music from the award-winning Californian mothership station every weekday, and even more on the weekends.

“We think we can add tremendously” to the Berlin radio landscape, Woosley says.

And while the vast majority of the programming will initially come from California and other public radio stations in the US, KCRW Berlin also has plans to bring in local programming.

“The idea is to help integrate the huge English-as-a common-language community here into the city itself, so they can better understand it and take part on a bigger scale,” says Woosley.

They became aware of the demand for more English-language news and information in Berlin when they ran a survey on their website asking people what they thought of Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz.

“One poignant reply was that ‘we’d love to have an opinion but there is not enough information in English’”, says Woosley.

KCRW will start by offering four minute segments four times a day on a range of local topics from politics, to film, to theatre, as well as weather. Starting in November they will also have a news round up.

Meanwhile they have two pilot shows in the pipeline, one on Berlin current affairs and one on Berlin culture. While these will initially be weekly affairs, they hope to eventually make them daily.

The plan, Woosley explains, is to “gradually add and build”.

At The Local, we’re excited to see how it turns out.

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EXPLAINED: Berlin’s latest Covid rules

In response to rapidly rising Covid-19 infection rates, the Berlin Senate has introduced stricter rules, which came into force on Saturday, November 27th. Here's what you need to know.

A sign in front of a waxing studio in Berlin indicates the rule of the 2G system
A sign in front of a waxing studio indicates the rule of the 2G system with access only for fully vaccinated people and those who can show proof of recovery from Covid-19 as restrictions tighten in Berlin. STEFANIE LOOS / AFP

The Senate agreed on the tougher restrictions on Tuesday, November 23rd with the goal of reducing contacts and mobility, according to State Secretary of Health Martin Matz (SPD).

He explained after the meeting that these measures should slow the increase in Covid-19 infection rates, which was important as “the situation had, unfortunately, deteriorated over the past weeks”, according to media reports.

READ ALSO: Tougher Covid measures needed to stop 100,000 more deaths, warns top German virologist

Essentially, the new rules exclude from much of public life anyone who cannot show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. You’ll find more details of how different sectors are affected below.

If you haven’t been vaccinated or recovered (2G – geimpft (vaccinated) or genesen (recovered)) from Covid-19, then you can only go into shops for essential supplies, i.e. food shopping in supermarkets or to drugstores and pharmacies.

Many – but not all – of the rules for shopping are the same as those passed in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg in order to avoid promoting ‘shopping tourism’ with different restrictions in different states.

2G applies here, too, as well as the requirement to wear a mask with most places now no longer accepting a negative test for entry. Only minors are exempt from this requirement.

Sport, culture, clubs
Indoor sports halls will off-limits to anyone who hasn’t  been vaccinated or can’t show proof of recovery from Covid-19. 2G is also in force for cultural events, such as plays and concerts, where there’s also a requirement to wear a mask. 

In places where mask-wearing isn’t possible, such as dance clubs, then a negative test and social distancing are required (capacity is capped at 50 percent of the maximum).

Restaurants, bars, pubs (indoors)
You have to wear a mask in all of these places when you come in, leave or move around. You can only take your mask off while you’re sat down. 2G rules also apply here.

Hotels and other types of accommodation 
Restrictions are tougher here, too, with 2G now in force. This means that unvaccinated people can no longer get a room, even if they have a negative test.

For close-contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, it’s up to the service providers themselves to decide whether they require customers to wear masks or a negative test.

Football matches and other large-scale events
Rules have changed here, too. From December 1st, capacity will be limited to 5,000 people plus 50 percent of the total potential stadium or arena capacity. And only those who’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 will be allowed in. Masks are also compulsory.

For the Olympic Stadium, this means capacity will be capped at 42,000 spectators and 16,000 for the Alte Försterei stadium. 

3G rules – ie vaccinated, recovered or a negative test – still apply on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses in Berlin. It was not possible to tighten restrictions, Matz said, as the regulations were issued at national level.

According to the German Act on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, people have to wear a surgical mask or an FFP2 mask  on public transport.

Christmas markets
The Senate currently has no plans to cancel the capital’s Christmas markets, some of which have been open since Monday. 

According to Matz, 2G rules apply and wearing a mask is compulsory.

Schools and day-care
Pupils will still have to take Covid tests three times a week and, in classes where there are at least two children who test positive in the rapid antigen tests, then tests should be carried out daily for a week.  

Unlike in Brandenburg, there are currently no plans to move away from face-to-face teaching. The child-friendly ‘lollipop’ Covid tests will be made compulsory in day-care centres and parents will be required to confirm that the tests have been carried out. Day-care staff have to document the results.

What about vaccination centres?
Berlin wants to expand these and set up new ones, according to Matz. A new vaccination centre should open in the Ring centre at the end of the week and 50 soldiers from the German army have been helping at the vaccination centre at the Exhibition Centre each day since last week.

The capacity in the new vaccination centre in the Lindencenter in Lichtenberg is expected to be doubled. There are also additional vaccination appointments so that people can get their jabs more quickly. Currently, all appointments are fully booked well into the new year.