Dispute over literary criticism in the WDR: “Most of them want change”

Mr. Quecke, the type and scope of literary reporting on Kulturwelle WDR 3 has recently been the subject of heated discussions. So how will it go on?

We want to expand the literature reports and, above all, make them more diverse. This also applies to the daily literary review broadcast at 6.45 a.m. in its current form. It can no longer be the only means of choice for offering literature. In order to get more audiences interested in literature, the reporting has to be more diverse. This also includes reviews, classically as a so-called built article, but also includes interviews, discussions with authors, discussions with colleagues, sometimes a slap or a recommendation from a bookseller. There are many ways to offer literature. We are also planning to significantly expand the literature on WDR 3 in the evening. We are convinced that we will convince our audience who are enthusiastic about literature and arouse curiosity among new target groups.

When such decisions are made, the outcry from cultural institutions is usually very loud and violent. Obviously, many people lost their trust in the WDR.

Hardly any regional broadcaster is more committed to culture than WDR. We therefore spoke to the literary publishers and cleared up any misunderstandings.

There is an announcement to authors that contributions should not be longer than five minutes. Can’t you expect the listener to listen longer?

If we notice that a book needs more time, it will get more time. We want to try to present literature in shorter formats. People’s media usage behavior is changing. But we still offer long formats at WDR and will also conduct large interviews.

Doesn’t the WDR have to afford at least one wave that is not about being easily consumable? Don’t you have to challenge the listeners?

When I talk to a doctor about Corona, I want her to explain something in a way that I can understand. And that’s what we expect from our moderators too. They should act on an equal footing with the majority of the listeners. At the same time, we also need areas where we have intellectual demands. Both is important. We put a lot of money into culture and I want to reach as many people as possible because it’s their money, after all. And I would also like to reach those who are not currently using our offers. To do this, we have to see how we can serve their interests. That’s why we do surveys and now also conduct in-depth interviews.

So the program has not become more popular and shallow?

Our goal is to find out more about our users and then pick them up on their interests. That’s a difference. There are also topics that are only in the interests of the editor. That can not be. Our aim is to reach the interests of as many people as possible with high-quality content and to awaken new ones.

So do your employees have a wrong understanding?

My employees are ready to change something and are adapting to it. They see it just like me. For many freelance authors, of course, the financial situation also plays a role, and they fight for something for reasons other than content. That explains why something is sometimes carried out in public even though we haven’t thought through it yet. But most of them want change. We lost 3 listeners at WDR and the length of stay has decreased. That was an alarm signal for us to see how we can stop the trend.

In a recent meeting you mentioned that emotionality is important in cultural reporting. Isn’t it dangerous to align them with it?

In very large stretches, culture is emotionality. If someone has tears in their eyes in a classical concert, it is pure emotion. We offer culture that one can see or hear with pleasure. There is also an intellectually challenging culture. Both in the interests of our audience.

You did a study to find out what classical music your listeners want. If you read that many of the respondents stated that they would otherwise listen to 1Live, you wonder how useful that is.

We conducted a large study in 2018/2019 to find out more about the tastes of classically-savvy listeners and asked more than 1000 listeners about this. The biggest overlap is with WDR 2, and yes, many of them also listen to 1Live. It is common for WDR-3 listeners to also listen to a mass program. Nevertheless, they can still express themselves about their taste in music in the area of ​​classical music. We don’t make this the sole selection criterion. But we want to offer more of the music that listeners want. We offer people music in the morning that they find good, with which they start the day well. A cultural radio has to do two things: respond to the wishes of the listeners and challenge them at the same time.

You reject the accusation that the WDR is driven by quotas or market shares?

I reject him. We know very well what our mission is. In addition to our classic cultural radio WDR 3, we have two other programs with a high cultural content: our information radio WDR 5 and the young European radio Cosmo. It should not be forgotten that two years ago we bundled the culture departments into a cross-media section. It is now our task to develop new ideas and narrative forms in order to inspire people for culture in other ways – in the linear program as well as in the digital one.

Source: Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger – Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger by www.ksta.de.

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