KCRW to begin broadcasting in Berlin next month

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As NPR winds down a radio service in Berlin, another U.S. public radio entity will take its place.

The Media Authority of Berlin-Brandenburg (MABB), Germany’s equivalent to the FCC, announced Thursday that KCRW Berlin, affiliated with KCRW in Los Angeles, will begin broadcasting Oct. 1 on 104.1 MHz.

NPR has used the signal since 2006 to broadcast its programming. The network said in April that it would discontinue its service July 31.

KCRW “jumped at” the opportunity to program the Berlin station because the German city and the station’s home of Los Angeles share similar art and culture, KCRW President Jennifer Ferro said. KCRW creates programming “that would have relevance to the community in Berlin,” she said.

“It’s this great branding opportunity for us, especially because we deal with musicians who come from all around the world, and a lot of them that end up in L.A. will also end up at some point in Berlin,” Fero said. “There’s a way that music really puts us on the international stage that we would not be if we were just talk, honestly.”

The format will include programming from NPR, KCRW and other public radio entities, in addition to programs produced in Berlin. Music will account for about half of the station’s programming. which “translates really well, especially if you’re broadcasting in a multilingual society,” Ferro said. At first, the music will be hosted by the station’s Los Angeles DJs, but Ferro said she hopes Berlin-based hosts will join the lineup “very soon.” Los Angeles–based hosts may also visit Berlin for special events and vice versa.

Locally produced programming will include a weekly local current affairs show and a monthly show about German and European politics.

KCRW Berlin, an independent nonprofit based in Berlin, will contract with KCRW to brand and program the station. The renamed nonprofit formerly supported NPR Berlin.

NPR had held a license to broadcast in Berlin until 2020 but decided to leave early. The network had been evaluating “the long-term financial sustainability” of the venture, according to an audited financial statement released in December. Ferro said she expects that KCRW will be able to operate KCRW Berlin with lower costs and less overhead. Major donors are also supporting the station’s expansion.  

The frequency will be assigned to KCRW Berlin for seven years.