Because of their Love for Radio

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“It is all about the passion for radio”, expounds Karsten Hoeft, the deputy editor in chief and music editor of the radio station Radio Jade, located in Wilhelmshaven. He continues and explains, that “people who are working here are poorly paid, even if they have studied. Even a kindergarten teacher gets a better payment.” But why are journalists working at this radio station? Hoeft points out: “We have a lot of independence.”

The station is a citizen broadcast station and a noncommercial radio. Radio Jade can choose from a range of more than 1,000 different songs. Additionally, the station is independent of advertising and sponsoring and very proud to offer critical and independent information. “This is liberty”, says Hoeft, “Commercial stations have about 400 songs that are played it over and over again. It would make me mad.”

A little backcloth
Pluralism is an important aim in German media policy. Therefore in Lower Saxony where Wilhelmshaven is situated, apart from private commercial and public service stations there are non-commercial private stations like Radio Jade. At the Jade station citizens can produce radio shows in the evenings, be it music shows, talk programs or political information. The people are allowed to send every content they want – “as long as it is legal and not against the law”, explains Hoeft.

Radio Jade started in the early nineties as a pirate radio station – this is not legal in Germany. The frequencies are limited in Germany and stations need to get a license to be able to broadcast legally. But this was only the very beginning. Radio Jade was licensed 21 years ago, next year they celebrate their 20th anniversary.

Beyond the mic
Money is always scarce at Radio Jade. The offices and studios do not look very modern, but this is not surprising. The station has just a budget of 400,000 Euro per year. 300,000 Euro are given by the broadcasting authority who takes a certain percentage from the radio license fee that every household in Germany has to pay. This fee finances the public service broadcasting, the licensing process of private broadcasters and non-commercial radio and TV. The oldest Studio at Radio Jade is Studio A, mostly used for radio programs produced by citizens. These programs are broadcast every day from 6 pm to 10 pm.

Studio B is the newest studio with new computers and a better sound isolation. Radio Jade’s professional program is produced  twelve hours per day from here. For Hoeft it is quite surprising that they have around 35,000 listeners per day: “It is just a small station. But there are listeners. We get feedback when our journalist are out there. Most of the audience is from the older generation, but there are also young people who are listening”, he said. Radio Jade takes part in audience studies from the broadcasting authorities and is quite successful, especially compared to other such stations. “I get two or three mails every day”, Karsten Hoeft says. “People want to know what the song from 11.30 am was or things like that. That shows me there are few people out there who are listening.”

Patrick Klapetz

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