"The radio feature has accepted the digital challenge"
On Thursday, 16 May 2014, the 40th International Feature Conference which took place at the "Media Campus Villa Ida" Leipzig ended. More than 140 experts from radio stations, Internet companies, print media and universities from around the world discussed about the future of the radio feature. The conference was jointly organised by the Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR).
The focus of the conference laid on the transition of radio features on digital platforms and the link to the interactive and audio-visual possibilities of the Internet: "The radio feature has accepted the digital challenge", said Ulf Köhler, head of feature of MDR Figaro. This was evidenced by controversial discussions during the conference which were fuelled by presentations on the digital strategy of the British daily The Guardian, on the interactive radio project "People of M10" of Rundfunk Berlin Brandenburg or on the world's largest online audio platform "SoundCloud". "It became clear: The digital world is looking for content - even for sophisticated content provided by the radio feature," said Köhler. It was also the task of the Feature Conference to inspire the authors for new technical possibilities of storytelling and reporting. Wolfram Wessels, radio feature author, editor and radio historian, who is responsible for the "Doku-Blog" of Südwestrundfunk (SWR), stressed the need to use the Internet as distribution platform: "But it must not be forgotten that additional technical and financial costs occur, which radio authors can not always cope alone."
Beside the controversial debates on the "new" radio feature, "conventional" radio features by authors from around the world were analysed during the 40th International Feature Conference as well: "The quality of the works is consistently high, but the style differs substantially,” said Wolfram Wessels, SWR. Different traditions of storytelling are effective here. Additionally issues of topic selection, dramaturgy and acoustic design were discussed. "The International Feature Conference always serves the exchange between and the networking of radio creators from around the world - this goal was also achieved during the 40th IFC in Leipzig," said Ulf Köhler who was part of the organisational team.
One of the highlights of the 40th International Feature Conference was the award ceremony of the Axel Eggebrecht Prize of the Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig to German radio feature author Paul Kohl on 14 May. "We are pleased that we can award the prize in its fourth edition in this particular context and in the presence of so many experts," said Stephan Seeger, Director Foundations of Sparkasse Leipzig. Paul Kohl was honoured for his life's work of more than 100 radio features.
In his eulogy, Jens Jarisch, feature editor from Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg RBB, praised the laureate: "Paul Kohl examines the world in detail without explaining it to us. He researches so diligently like no one else by asking questions, by suggesting - by practicing criticism - but he never says: the world is like this or that. He also is distinguished by another attribute, said Jarisch: "Paul Kohl has an attitude towards the world, the story, the people; an attitude that creates trust, that includes a sense of timing and propriety, that is interwoven with every layer of his radio features…Because of that, we are awarding the Axel Eggebrecht Prize not only for a brilliant life's work, but to and for: a personality."