"No radio for the masses"

Villa Ida talk with Dr. Willi Steul, director of "Deutschlandradio"

On 2 June, Dr. Willi Steul, director of Deutschlandradio, followed an invitation of the Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig. During the traditional Villa Ida talk, he discussed together with students of the University of Leipzig on the perspectives of radio.

"Yes and without any restrictions: radio has a future," says Willi Steul. The director of Deutschlandradio is optimistic for the future of public broadcasting. "What counts is quality and nothing but quality," accentuates the experienced journalist. Deutschlandradio could not permanently subjugate itself under the quota. This would only do harm to the radio station. High-quality radio programs such as those working under his direction (e.g. Deutschlandradio Kultur and Deutschlandfunk) are justifying the radio licence fees, argues Steul.

"No radio for the masses"

Target audience of Deutschlandradio are "people who are particularly interested in the society and what happens around it," says Willi Steul and he clarifies: "We do not make radio for the masses, because there is no lack of entertainment radio in Germany." According to Steul’s opinion, the mandate of public broadcasting to inform and teach the citizens is realized with Deutschlandradio. Nevertheless, he believes that a good radio station like Deutschlandradio has to change constantly in order to remain future-compliant. It should, for example, not miss the online trend. The combination of radio and the Internet has become increasingly important, said Steul while answering the questions from the audience.

"To encourage gambling"

A medium like the radio, which is traditionally listen to incidentally, now offers the opportunity to "read up on" the Internet. "What will be sent, once is gone. But on the Internet it will be kept forever," says Willi Steul. By its new program "D-Radio Wissen" ("D-Radio Knowledge"), Deutschlandradio is now looking for the way of interacting with the user. Steul thinks of the new station, which can only be received digitally, as a "testing ground for young colleagues." He wants to "encourage them to gamble." In the course of this, the director does not want a revolution in radio-making, but innovations within proven structures: "The older ones are there to slow down the younger ones a bit, but never too strong so that the younger ones do not lose their courage to try new things." For this, he received not only the applause of the students.

Text: Markus Fischer