ZeitZeichen (radio broadcast)

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ZeitZeichen is a daily broadcast on Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) radio that has been presenting historical events and important people in history since April 4, 1972 in the form of a 15-minute feature .

The broadcast format first came in 1972 from WDR editor Wolf Dieter Ruppel , who is said to have developed his idea ready for broadcast in two weeks. Ruppel had already dealt with major anniversaries of important events in the morning magazine of WDR radio. In the first few months after the show was launched, a ZeitZeichen series dealt with several topics, unlike today.

The focus of the program is now a historical event ("Today ... years ago ..."), which is explained from today's point of view using different means (historical sound documents, excerpts from interviews with experts or contemporary witnesses, atmospheric sounds and noises, music recordings).

The broadcast is shown as a repeat on SR 2 Kulturradio and NDR. Other similar but shorter programs run on Deutschlandfunk and Deutschlandfunk Kultur under the title "Calendar Sheet", on Bayern 2 under the name "Das Kalenderblatt" and on Radio Bremen under the title "As Time Goes By". These do not come from the ZeitZeichen editorial team.


The topic of the program can be anniversaries of events from politics and history (for example the change in the penal code), it can commemorate the birth or death days of famous people (for example the birthday of Louis XIV) or it can be about inventions, cultural and sporting events, however also marginal cultural-historical phenomena such as the invention of the gummy bear. The condition is that this event, viewed from the broadcast date, is on a five-year grid.

This rule is occasionally deviated from. Occasionally there are contributions to events that cannot be dated to the exact day, such as the day of Eratosthenes' death of Cyrene , which was treated on November 6, 2011 under the title “The Greek scholar Eratosthenes of Cyrene died about 2200 years ago” . In addition, a fictional event is usually discussed on April 1st , for example the discovery in 2016 that both the text and the melody of the German national anthem have Turkish-Ottoman roots.

Well-known radio journalists work as authors, whereby the author speaks his texts himself. This was not yet common in the early stages of the broadcast. The jingle of the program was a long time from the gemorsten title of the program, resulting in the variation of the same program "SR2-time signal in the morning music" on SR 2 culture radio was retained.

Broadcast dates

The first broadcast was on April 4, 1972. It dealt with the siege of Leningrad in 1942, a speech by the FDP politician Hildegard Hamm-Brücher in 1967 and the chemical accident in Walsum in 1952. As a result, the program changed several times and also the station within the WDR.

Since the beginning of 2016, the ZeitZeichen can be heard daily from 9.45 a.m. to 10.00 a.m. on WDR 5 and from 5.45 p.m. to 6 p.m. on WDR 3 . In addition, NDR Info takes over the broadcasts Monday to Friday at 8:15 p.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays at 7:05 p.m. SR 2 Kulturradio broadcasts the ZeitZeichen from Monday to Friday from 9.05 a.m. to 9.20 a.m.

In addition, there is now the option of listening to and downloading the programs on the broadcasters' websites (WDR, NDR and DLF) ( podcasting ).


In some cases, the ZeitZeichen authors also produce a four-minute deadline for WDR 2 on the same topic. In doing so, the institute tries to reduce costs. Originally, the Stichtag series only had its own topics. Today there are often shorter versions of the ZeitZeichen program of the day, but also independent programs. An editorial team has been responsible for both programs since 2004.

The deadline can be heard on WDR 2 at around 9.40 a.m. There are repeats from Monday to Saturday at 6.40 p.m. After the broadcast, the deadline is available as a podcast.


Since 2004, the frequent authors include Bernd Ulrich , Christian Linder , Peter Hertel , Christoph Schmitz-Scholemann , Dirk Lorenzen , Doris Liebermann , Frank Grotelüschen , Irene Meichsner , Karl Lippegaus , Katja Nicodemus , Maike Albath , Matthias Bertsch , Maren Gottschalk , Heiner Wember and Hans Conrad Zander as well as occasional freelancers and authors from other editorial offices. The editors are Ronald Feisel , Michael Rüger and Hildegard Schulte .


By the 40th anniversary in 2012, a total of over 14,600 issues had been produced. Each episode reaches around 300,000 listeners, the podcast is downloaded by more than 500,000 listeners per month (as of 2012).


  • Wolf Dieter Ruppel: Sound archives and program practice using the example of the WDR radio series ZeitZeichen . In: Marianne Englert, Eckhard Lange, Heiner Schmitt: Networks: Archive services in the press, radio and online media . Lit Verlag, 2001, ISBN 382585521X , pp. 55-57
  • Sabine Gerasch: History from the tape: the series "ZeitZeichen" of the West German Broadcasting Corporation , Berlin, New York: de Gruyter 1997 (also dissertation Uni Dortmund 1996) ISBN 3-11-015274-6 . online through Google Books
  • Ronald Feisel (ed.) How Dracula lost her head and Sisi lost her lust. 21 unheard of stories from history. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 3rd edition 2012, ISBN 978-3462044003

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c ZeitZeichen in the ABC of ARD, accessed on March 30, 2019.
  2. https://www.sr.de/sr/sr2/sendung_a-z/uebersicht/zeitzeichen/index.html , accessed on February 12, 2019
  3. NDR: Zeitzeichen. Retrieved May 11, 2020 .
  4. https://www.deutschlandfunk.de/kalenderblatt.870.de.html , accessed on February 12, 2019
  5. https://www.br.de/mediathek/podcast/das-kalenderblatt/674 , accessed on February 12, 2019
  6. https://www.radiobremen.de/bremeneins/serien/as_time_goes_by/index.html , accessed on February 12, 2019
  7. 40 years of ZeitZeichen . Contribution in local time from Dortmund (WDR), March 17, 2012, accessed on September 22, 2018.
  8. Ronald Feisel (ed.) How Dracula lost her head and Sisi lost her lust. 21 unheard of stories from history. 3rd edition 2012, p. 15.
  9. https://www.noz.de/deutschland-welt/medien/artikel/385023/stichtag-sendung-zeitreise-mit-dem-radio Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung of May 31, 2012, accessed on February 12, 2019
  10. 40 years of ZeitZeichen: radio broadcasts make history. Schmitz: "Public broadcasting in the best sense" . WDR. Press release. February 15, 2012. Retrieved February 22, 2017.