50 years of traffic radio: You only know these places because there is always traffic jam

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You only know these places because there is always traffic jam

50 years of traffic radio: You only know these places because there is always traffic jam-Sprockhovel

Thomas Gottschalk breathed humor into the dreary traffic reports with his interpretations

Source: Sessner / Bayerischer Rundfunk

Thanks to traffic radio, there is no trip without warning messages of accidents, cows and squared timber on the motorway. Somehow there is always a lot going on in the Hameler Wald, in Irxleben and Holledau.

“Traffic jams and slow-moving traffic on the following motorways.” Or: “A heavy load that cannot be overtaken.” And of course again and again: “Warning, wrong-way driver!” Scraps of sentences from the car radio that are part of every vacation trip, such as the backseat complaint “Mom , I have to ".

Not quite as old as this child emergency number are travel calls, diversion recommendations and lightning ice warnings – nationwide traffic radio has existed for 50 years. But only because Federal Transport Minister Seebohm became energetic at the end of 1963.

In a press release he promised, starting with the Easter wave of travelers in 1964, "informing drivers via radio where traffic jams have formed and which routes can be used to avoid them". A clear encroachment on the broadcasters’ program sovereignty and independence, pout the ARD directors, but grudgingly looking for a solution, because otherwise they fear unpleasant traffic radio competition.

Time slot "Hurry with a while"

But the nationwide VHF traffic radio frequency, which is desired by politicians and easy to remember for motorists, is technically not feasible. Instead, traffic jams and other reports come from April 1, 1964 on NDR in the 2nd program, on Sudwestfunk in 1st and Hessischer Rundfunk in 1st and 2nd programs – mostly after the news and in programs with cute names like "Eile with a while ".

But many drivers do not hear them, because only every third car had a radio at the time, mostly with noisy crackling reception. At the beginning of the 1970s, traffic broadcasting was to be placed nationwide on the VHF frequencies above 100 megahertz, which are only sparsely used in Germany.

That fails because of the French fire brigade. She uses these waves for her radiotelephony, fears interference from German traffic stations in the border area and urges the French government to say “Non!” At the international frequency conference.

Pioneer Bavaria 3

In view of the significantly more traffic jams, the ARD bosses recognize how important it is to keep the listeners up to date and convert existing programs into service waves with reliable traffic reports and (chaste) pop music – from 1972, for example, NDR 2 in the north and HR 3 in Hesse, a little later also SWF 3 in Baden-Wurttemberg.

However, Bayern 3 is a pioneer – exactly seven years after the first nationwide traffic reports, the wave starts on April 1, 1971. The first traffic announcements sound as entertaining as a poetry reading from the telephone book. Until in the same year a blond, curly haired speaker sat down at the Bayern 3 microphone: “Attention drivers, there are horses on the road on the Starnberg – Garmisch autobahn. When you come by, please hold a tuft of hay out of the window. "

Allegedly the first ridiculous traffic report from Thomas Gottschalk. To their annoyance, his bosses have to quickly recognize that Gottschalk’s sayings and play on words (“traffic jam near Eching – because of Ikea, will soon be called Elching”) are reaching the audience. Like him, many a future radio and TV star begins his career with brisk sayings behind the traffic jam microphone – Frank Elstner as well as Elmar Horig: "Attention, on the A 8 the A 9 comes towards you."

Much self-praise

In the mid-1990s, private broadcasters were always looking for new program magnets to pull radio listeners over from the ARD service waves. One with attraction: speed camera reports, first fought by the police as an aid to frenzy, but now tolerated and also offered by some ARD stations.

Since then, the traffic radio broadcasters’ arms race of self-praise has been going on: the private broadcaster RSH in Schleswig-Holstein boasts of being the "only traffic radio station with a guarantee of punctuality". Competitor Antenne Bayern counters the allegedly “most up-to-date traffic service” from Bayern 3 with its own “traffic center” and “real-time measurement”. Right from the start, the WDR program Eins Live has been without superlatives, but with an original title: "Traffic jam show".

Data from ADAC and ACE

There is a lot of traffic jam to see, not only in North Rhine-Westphalia: Germany’s longest are probably still the 170 kilometers of standstill between Hamburg and Denmark in July 1993.

According to ADAC, cars, trucks, mobile homes and motorcycles jam on German roads every year over 450,000 kilometers, and motorways become three-lane hard shoulders.Every German is trapped in them for around 50 hours a year, nervously drumming on the steering wheel, also because they occasionally run over the The radio announcer’s choice of words is upset: Why does the “slow traffic” report when the cars stop more than they roll?

Mostly because the radio stations receive this information from the traffic control centers, to which it is in turn transmitted by sensors in the asphalt and under bridges. As long as cars move at least a little, that’s "flowing traffic" in police German.

In addition to the police, almost all stations also receive their reports from automobile clubs such as ADAC or ACE and from road maintenance depots, says Bayern 3 traffic editor Daniela Rembold and expressly adds to the station’s own traffic jam reports – at Bayern 3 they are called "Bayern Driver".

The devil broke during the Pope’s visit

In addition to flippant sayings from moderators such as Gottschalk ("If there are cows on the autobahn, you have to drive through the piles"), unintentional reports from the traffic service are also involuntarily funny. A reporter warned drivers of the traffic jam on the occasion of the Pope’s visit to Mainz with the words: "Don’t go there, the devil has broken down there!" Recalls Frank Franke, long-time head of HR travel editorial.

Particularly on stormy days, half-DIY stores and furniture stores waft onto the roadways and from there over the waves of the ether: toilet houses and garage doors tipped from trucks, lost sofas and chests of drawers. The highlight are "Expeditions into the animal kingdom": a circus tiger who slams his way off the transporter into the bushes near Wiesbaden, as well as the kangaroo that has escaped into the Taunus. The Frankfurt programmer Robert Heret noted all this for years on a website that has unfortunately now been discontinued (www.ladungsfuhrung.de).

And traffic radio has achieved something else in 50 years: places that the world would otherwise never find out about are secret radio stars, as monuments to the standstill, because sheet metal regularly reigns on the nearby autobahn.

Between Irxleben and Eilsleben, for example, in Bad Aibling, Sprockhovel or at Morsenbroicher Ei. Thomas Gottschalk – who else – thought of this joke back in the 80s, which would probably be a reason for resignation today: "The Negro is annoyed, is stuck in a traffic jam at the Degerloch."

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