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The RIAS ( R undfunk i m a merican S ector) was a broadcasting company based in the West Berlin district of Schöneberg ( Kufsteiner Strasse ), which was founded by the US military administration after the Second World War and from 1946 to 1993 two radio programs and from Aired a television program from 1988 to 1992 .

History of origin

January 1946: advertising sheet for the wire radio "DIAS"

The RIAS was created immediately after the Second World War in Berlin, which was destroyed and divided into four sectors . The reason was the refusal of the Soviet Military Administration (SMAD) to allow the Western victorious powers airtime on Berlin radio . The Americans and British then made arrangements to set up independent broadcasting stations in their sectors. There was a lack of terrestrial transmission systems of its own, which is why the US Headquarters, Berlin District, ordered on December 17, 1945 the use of telephone cables (largely underground and intact) for signal transmission - the so-called wire radio . The broadcaster was under the direct supervision of the Information Services Control Section . The first broadcasts ran from February 1946 under the name wire radio in the American sector (DIAS); the broadcasting studio was in the Fernamt Berlin on Winterfeldtstrasse in Schöneberg. Until 1949 radio newspapers in the eastern sector of the city still printed the program of the new west station, in 1949 the GDR declared the RIAS to be the propaganda instrument of the political opponent.

The RIAS, so the diction, softens the socialist consciousness with false reports and creates “music traps” for the innocent listener. The " RIAS duck " became a common term in GDR propaganda in the 1950s. The GDR leadership systematically disturbed the RIAS and justified this with the following: "The station is financed through covered channels of the Central Intelligence Agency , which covers the GDR with American propaganda through the station ." This was illegal in numerous GDR criminal trials in the 1950s Hearing the RIAS a key theme from the prosecution. In 1955, the Stasi functionary Erich Mielke ordered the "Ducks Action" to identify RIAS informants in East Germany and bring them to justice. In June 1955 this led to the RIAS trial , which resulted in long prison terms and a death sentence.

The RIAS building was located at Kufsteiner Straße 69. Today, the radio house on Hans-Rosenthal-Platz houses the Deutschlandradio with the address Hans-Rosenthal-Platz . Hans Rosenthal was one of the RIAS employees in the early years.

Gerhard Löwenthal , who had been working for the station since 1946, wrote in his memoir that “ propaganda was carried out, the aim of which was, at least in phases, to destabilize the GDR”.



Broadcast manager Wilhelm Ehlers on April 30, 1949 in the Wiesbaden studio putting together the first program for the broadcast Voice of the West , which was broadcast via RIAS Berlin

Right from the start, the RIAS was innovative with its programming and acted as a model for the West German broadcasting scene. The station's programs were under the self-chosen motto “A free voice of the free world”. From October 24, 1950 on every Sunday at 12 noon, the ringing of the Berlin Freedom Bell was broadcast by the Schöneberg Town Hall , followed by the reading of the " Freedom Vow ".

With his magazine programs tailored to the various population groups and detailed political reporting, he offered a comprehensive information package. While the proportion of political programs on public broadcasters was only 15 percent in the 1950s, the RIAS accounted for around 34 percent. RIAS was the first to have current radio broadcasts in its program and was the first radio station on German territory to introduce radio broadcasting magazines lasting several hours. In addition to Berlin, the focus of reporting and commentary was on events in the GDR. Especially for the Berlin listeners, the first Governing Mayor of Berlin , Ernst Reuter, ran the program Where us the shoe pinches , which was continued until 1978 by his elected successors.

The RIAS was also exemplary in the culture and entertainment sector. The RIAS Chamber Choir and the RIAS Symphony Orchestra, which were founded in the early days, provided cultural highlights in Berlin. Friedrich Luft was a brilliant observer and critic of the Berlin cultural scene , whose voice of criticism was first broadcast on February 9, 1946 and was a weekly item on the program until Luft's death in 1990.

The RIAS dance orchestra was active in light music far beyond Berlin. Especially under its director Werner Müller , it accompanied numerous public events in West Germany as well as on television. The RIAS is also to be regarded as the inventor of the hit parade in radio in Germany. Before Radio Luxemburg launched it in 1958 , the RIAS had the weekly hits of the week in its program as early as 1947 . The RIAS was the sponsor of the following music associations:

Other popular RIAS programs included the cabaret show Die Insulaner by Günter Neumann , which was broadcast 149 times and premiered on December 25, 1948. Also worth mentioning are the radio play series It happened in Berlin by Werner Brink (1951–1972, 499 episodes), Pension Spreewitz - Small stories in large Berlin by Thierry (1957–1964, 150 episodes) and Back then - stories from old Berlin . The latter ran in 1964 and 1987 with 40 stories by various well-known authors in a total of 426 episodes; With this series, the future television hit author Curth Flatow earned his first spurs. Another successful radio play series was the series created by Michael Koser with the adventures of the polymath Professor van Dusen (1978–1999, 79 episodes), through which the actors Friedrich W. Bauschulte and Klaus Herm became known throughout Germany.

From 1947 to 1972 Fritz Genschow was Uncle Tobias from RIAS in his children's program of the same name, which he created every Sunday at 10 am together with “Aunt Erika” ( Erika Görner ) and the RIAS children and the guitarist Gerhard Tucholski .

The RIAS 1 program was broadcast via medium wave from the Berlin-Britz and RIAS Hof transmitters, as well as from the region around Hof via VHF from Berlin and Bavaria .


RIAS 2 was set up by radio in the American sector on November 1, 1953 as a second radio program alongside RIAS 1 and broadcast on medium wave and VHF via the Berlin-Britz transmitters and in Bavaria in the Hof region via the Großer Waldstein transmitter .

Hans Rosenthal played a special role in the entertainment program of the RIAS . He introduced the successful quiz programs Wer Asks, Wins and Eins gegen alle , which were later also taken over by other broadcasters, and the radio cabaret Die Rückblende (authors include Michael Alex , Curth Flatow , Eckart Hachfeld , Volker Ludwig , Horst Pillau and Rolf Ulrich ) . He invented the listener analysis with his Sunday riddle, because his broadcast was intended to determine the response to the broadcast of RIAS 2 via the Hof transmitter. As the first German-speaking broadcaster, RIAS began broadcasting marathon pop nights under the title Rock over RIAS in the 1970s . After RIAS 2 was transformed into a 24-hour pop music channel on September 30, 1985, it also paved the way for many other youth programs. After the Berlin Wall was built, the RIAS overcame the dividing border over the airwaves with its Sunday greetings program Music knows no borders .

On September 30, 1985, RIAS 2 was transformed into a 24-hour youth program ( jingle : RIAS 2 - Typisch Berlin ). In retrospect, the Berliner Zeitung spoke of a brilliant start. “In West Berlin alone, RIAS 2 immediately reached 300,000 listeners per average hour.” RIAS 2 was also popular in East Berlin and the GDR. "For many people from Eastern Europe, the West channel was a part of life like broilers and club coke ."


On August 22, 1988, the RIAS started its television program RIAS-TV in Berlin. Here he was the first to introduce the broadcast format of breakfast television in Germany, which was later adopted by other broadcasters.

After reunification

In 1990, with German reunification, the future of the station became uncertain. First of all, according to a report by the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy in 1989/1990, the USA had considered another radio presence from RIAS in order to continue to guarantee an "important source of information about democracy and the United States for 16 million East Germans" in Central Europe.

On April 1, 1992, RIAS-TV was taken over by Deutsche Welle , which from then on produced and broadcast a television program for foreign countries under the name DW-TV . On May 19, 1992, an agreement on the establishment of the RIAS Berlin Commission was signed between the governments of the Federal Republic of Germany and the USA , which came into force on October 26, 1992. The commission has set itself the task of "continuing the tradition of German-American cooperation in broadcasting and, as a new tradition in the transatlantic media dialogue, enabling encounters and connections between broadcast journalists on both sides of the ocean".

On June 1, 1992, RIAS 2 was privatized and renamed rs2 . Today rs2 is broadcasting in Berlin on the same VHF frequency 94.3 MHz on which RIAS 2 was previously broadcast, as well as via a network of other VHF frequencies in Brandenburg. The Hof RIAS-2 frequency 91.2 MHz was abandoned in 1992. The former Berlin medium wave frequency of 855 kHz from RIAS 2 was used for DRM transmissions and special broadcasts on Germany radio. RIAS 1 (UKW 89.6 MHz) was initially continued and on January 1, 1994, together with Deutschlandsender Kultur and Deutschlandfunk in Deutschlandradio , a public corporation . Initially, this station had two programs with Deutschlandradio Berlin and Deutschlandradio Cologne, currently (as of 2018) Deutschlandradio consists of the programs Deutschlandfunk Kultur , Deutschlandfunk and Deutschlandfunk Nova .

Today the orchestras are mostly grouped together in the Rundfunk-Orchester und -Chöre gGmbH Berlin.

The former radio house of the RIAS is located on Hans-Rosenthal-Platz, named after the popular moderator, directly on the district border between Schöneberg and Wilmersdorf at Rudolph-Wilde-Park or at Volkspark Wilmersdorf with the so-called RIAS playground. The Deutschlandradio Kultur program is broadcast from here .

The RIAS ended on December 31, 1993 at 11:55 p.m. The last words were spoken by program director Siegfried Buschschlüter .

Operation of the medium-wave transmitter site in Berlin-Britz, which had been set up by RIAS around 65 years earlier, was finally stopped on September 4, 2013.


In the first few years, the RIAS was under the supervision of the Information Control Services of the U.S. Headquarters Berlin. From 1965 he was subordinated to the United States Information Agency of the US State Department. It was initially headed by a four-person board of directors (director, deputy director, head of production, head of administration) whose posts were occupied by Americans. From 1989 only the director was American. The programming was entirely in German hands. The later SPD politician Egon Bahr , who held this post from 1950 to 1959, is one of the best-known editors-in-chief of the RIAS .

Well-known moderators of the RIAS were Curth Flatow , Fred Ignor, John Hendrik, Lord Knud , Barry Graves , Nero Brandenburg , Désirée Persh , Ian McConnachie, Henry Gross, Juan Liebig, Uwe Golz, Andreas Dorfmann , Oliver Dunk , Gregor Rottschalk , Peter Kohagen, Hans-Günter Goldbeck-Löwe, Christian Graf, Uwe Wohlmacher , Rik De Lisle , Dennis King, Konstantin Klein, Uwe Hessenmüller, Stefan Waggershausen and Hans Rosenthal .

The figureheads in the area of ​​political reporting were Jürgen Graf , Hanns Werner Schwarze , Lutz Meunier, important correspondents were Günter Graffenberger ( Sweden ), Jürgen Koar (USA), Ulrich W. Sahm ( Israel , today correspondent of N24 ), Gustav Chalupa (ex- Yugoslavia ).

Well-known directors were the head of the radio play department Hanns Korngiebel and Ivo Veit , who, among other things, staged the radio play series Back then it was - stories from old Berlin .

Directors and Artistic Directors
US Directors:
1948–1949: William F. "Bill" Secretly
1949–1953: Fred G. Taylor
1953–1957: Gordon A. Ewing
1957–1959: Lawrence Dalcher
1959–1961: Alexander A. Klieforth
1961–1968: Robert H. Lochner
German directors:
1945–1947: Franz Wallner-Basté
around 1948–1949: Erfrid Heinecke
(released on January 25, 1949)
1969–1974: Roland Mullerburg
1974–1984: Ludwig von Hammerstein-Equord
1984-1987: Peter Schiwy
1987–1989: Bernhard F. Rohe
1990-1993: Helmut Drück

Technical development

On February 7, 1946, the "Wire Radio in the American Sector" (DIAS) went on air over telephone lines in the American sector for the first time. The transmitting station was located in Schöneberg in the Fernamt Winterfeldtstrasse (later Fernmeldeamt  1 Berlin). It was broadcast daily from 5 p.m. to midnight in the long-wave range on the frequencies 210 and 245  kHz . From June 1946, broadcasting operations were also expanded to include the British sector in Berlin.

The first terrestrial medium wave transmitter , a mobile unit of the US Army , was put into operation on September 5, 1946, thus completing the transition from wire to radio . The mobile transmitter in Berlin-Britz , also the location of the later RIAS major transmitter , radiated with a relatively low power of 800  watts on the frequency 610 kHz. It was replaced in June 1947 by a 20 kW transmitter built by the former Wehrmacht in 1935 . On July 6, 1948, the new RIAS broadcasting center was inaugurated at Kufsteiner Strasse  69 (today: Hans-Rosenthal-Platz ). After the start of broadcasting the " Voice of America " on shortwave on July 6th, 1948 from the Ismaning station near Munich and the improvement of the antenna systems in Britz, it became clear with the commissioning of the 20 kW medium wave transmitter Hof on November 1st, 1948 in Hof an der Saale in Upper Franconia made that the distribution area of ​​the RIAS should also be extended to the area of ​​the Soviet occupation zone . Since the RIAS represented an opinion that was shaped by US politics from the start , it quickly became an enemy of the rulers of the GDR, which was founded in October 1949 . On June 27, 1955 , the Supreme Court of the GDR declared the RIAS to be an "espionage, sabotage and criminal organization". The GDR had already begun to cover its entire territory with a network of jammers . This in turn prompted the RIAS to undertake an immense technical upgrade.

After the medium-wave transmitter Berlin-Britz had already been boosted to 100 kW in 1949 and a second short-wave transmitter was transmitting from there on August 7, 1951, the first VHF transmitter that was relatively interference-resistant due to frequency modulation went into operation in Britz in March 1952 . From January 15, 1953, von Britz was transmitting on medium wave 989 kHz with 300 kW, at that time the highest transmission power in Central Europe. The RIAS 2 program was started on November 1, 1953, in order to avoid the East German interference with alternative transmission times from changing transmitter locations , and at the same time a new medium wave and a new VHF frequency were put into operation in Berlin. In the course of 1954, two more medium wave frequencies were added and, in cooperation with the US foreign broadcaster “The Voice of America”, the powerful 173 kHz frequency could be used on long wave . In the mid-1950s, the RIAS had a total of four medium-wave frequencies that were used alternately in day-night operation by the two transmitters in Berlin and Hof. There were also two VHF frequencies (Berlin), one long and one short wave frequency. The most effective were the VHF and shortwave frequencies, which were hardly to be disturbed. It was only when the GDR jammers were switched off with the introduction of the Geneva Wave Plan in 1975 (which came into force in 1978) that the RIAS was able to switch to constant broadcasting.

Frequency overview
Medium wave
1958 1978
Britz 1 : 989 kHz 200/300 kW 990 kHz 300 kW
Britz 2a : 683 kHz 100 kW daytime 855 kHz 100 kW
Britz 2b : 737 kHz 20 kW at night
Britz 2c : 854 kHz 100 kW at night
Yard : 683 kHz 40 kW at night 684 kHz 100 kW
Yard : 737 kHz 40 kW during the day
Britz 1st 89.6 MHz 30 kW Courtyard 1 (Großer Waldstein) 89.3 MHz 20 kW (from 1980)
Britz 2 94.3 MHz 50 kW Courtyard 2 (Großer Waldstein) 91.2 MHz 20 kW (from 1964)
Short wave until 1993
Ismaning / Berlin 6,005 kHz 100 kW
Long wave until 1964
Erching 173 kHz 1000 kW


  • Herbert Kundler : RIAS Berlin. A radio station in a divided city. 2nd Edition. Reimer, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-496-02536-0 .
  • Manfred Rexin (Ed.): Radio Reminiscences. Memories of RIAS Berlin. 2nd Edition. Vistas, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-89158-335-4 .
  • Petra Galle: RIAS Berlin and Berliner Rundfunk 1945–1949. Lit, Münster u. a. 2003, ISBN 3-8258-6469-3 .
  • Schanett Riller: Sparks for Freedom. The US-American information policy towards the GDR from 1953–1963. Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, Trier 2004, ISBN 3-88476-646-5 .

Web links

Commons : RIAS  - collection of images, videos and audio files

References and comments

  1. The background was that the Americans, British and French only took over their occupation sectors in Berlin two months after the Soviets. The Red Army had already seized radio in Berlin and installed the Berlin radio in the Haus des Rundfunks on Masurenallee in Westend , i.e. in the western sector . The key positions were occupied by Germans loyal to Moscow. The Western occupying powers tried to get the Allied Command to put this station under four-power control . The SMAD refused.
  2. See reprint of the founding document with German translation by Herbert Kundler: RIAS Berlin, Berlin 2002, p. 38.
  3. Jörg-Uwe Fischer: The Rias duck - a search for traces . In: info 7 - Medien, Archive, Information , Issue 1/2013, p. 61 ff.
  4. See for example the criminal case against Elli Barczatis
  5. Klaus Arnold, Christoph Classen (Ed.): Between Pop and Propaganda. Radio in the GDR . Ch.links publishing house, Berlin 2004.
  6. ^ "Chronicle of the ARD" . Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  7. Sigrid Scherer et al. a .: Fairy tale worlds: the actor, director and producer Fritz Genschow. German Film Museum 2005, p. 56
  8. Fritz Genschow's fairy tale worlds at hr ( memento from June 30, 2007 in the web archive archive.today )
  9. Brenda Stohmaier: Radio in the other sector. In: Berliner Zeitung , September 30, 2005.

Coordinates: 52 ° 28 ′ 51 ″  N , 13 ° 20 ′ 14 ″  E