Ring Bahn Station Roulette

A Berlin man who has been in a coma for four months has been identified because someone recognized a photograph of his house keys. The 74-year was found unconscious in a Wilmersdorf park after apparently having an accident while jogging in March, carrying only his keys. A police operation to test all the locks in the area failed. Publishing a photo of his keys worked. It seems Berliners prefer to memorize the grooves of their keys rather than look their neighbours in the eye.

The first of Berlin’s many bike sharing company has gone bust. O-bike has filed for bankruptcy in its home country Singapore. In some cities, the bikes have been sold to a collection company and are being taken from the streets. But it’s not clear what will happen to the 700 bikes left in Berlin. One bicycle activist has created a website called Librebike.info calling for people to liberate the left-behind bicycles by hacking the locks. Update: now Ofo has announced it will pull out of Berlin too!

The S-Bahn wants to improve punctuality by introducing express trains that skip a couple of stops on the Ring. Stations to be skipped are Halensee and Hohenzollerndamm in the south-west. A trial could start later this month. And a ticket checker has to pay €900 to a passenger in compensation for ripping up his partially invalid ticket.

This episode of Radio Spaetkauf was brought to you by RadioEins, Berlin’s public broadcaster.

RS Live: Measure Your Flat, Sue Your Landlord

Are you paying too much rent? Probably: 70% of Berlin landlords are illegally overcharging, says lawyer Daniel Halmer of WenigerMiete.de. He’s offering a no-win no-fee service to fight your landlord for a rent reduction. He’s helped people save up to €600 a month. Tricks landlords use include overstating apartment size by up to 30%. Everybody who has rented an apartment in the last three years could win a rent decrease.

Berlin could soon get public electric grills – thanks to a very unexpected source of money – East Germany’s stolen millions hidden in Swiss bank accounts. The DDR leaders stashed state money abroad as the socialist state collapsed. Now it’s coming back. The Mitte district wants to use it to put coin-operated grills in Monbijou Park. Maisie thinks it could be used for better purposes.

The Breitscheitplatz Christmas Market truck attack in 2016 might have been prevented if Berlin police weren’t so obsessed with trying to evict anarchist squatters. A Berlin parliamentary inquiry has heard that police monitoring the alleged truck attacker, Anis Amri, were called of his case in June 2016. They were instead reassigned to focus on left-wing squatters in Rigaer Straße in Friedrichshain, who were illegally evicted from their squat. Amri allegedly went on to join a terrorist cell, undetected. Former justice minister Frank Henkel’s ideologial war against hippies had serious consequences.

This episode was recorded live ahead of the Mobile Kino open air screening at Insel der Jugend. Hosts are Maisie Hitchcock, Jöran Mandik, Joel Dullroy and Daniel Stern.

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Don’t Delete That Video

A video of black people being kicked out of KFC at Alexanderplatz raises question. Is it illegal to call police racist? Can police delete videos from your phone? We’ve got the answers. Support group Reachout says the incident was clearly racist. The police say they were following KFC’s request.

KFC is standing by their actions. They say their managers were right to “act in the interest of our other guests.” We asked them how often the police have been called to evict other noisy customers. The answer: very rarely. You can read their full response to our questions (in German and English) here.

Want to get fit while cleaning the city? Try plogging, a Swedish sport that combines jogging with trash collection. A meetup group is plogging through the Grunewald forest on June 9.

Why have so many kids started using the latest shared bike company Ofo? Is it because their system accidentally allows anonymous endless free rides? Perhaps they can all join in the ADFC cycle demo on June 3 through the center of the city.

This episode was presented by Joel Dullroy and Daniel Stern, and brought to you by RadioEins.

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RS Live: Turning Trash Into Beer


What will it take to get Berliners to pickup trash – the offer of a free beer, perhaps? The Big Görlitzer Clean Up happens on July 7. Organizer Lubomila Jordanova from the group Plan A tells us how they plan to incentivize volunteer cleaners. Join the event here.

Empty flats in Neukölln? They do exist! Unfortunately they’re being left unavailable on purpose. Activists squatted several buildings to protest, but were promptly evicted. In some cases, flats are left empty by speculators who prefer to wait for prices to rise rather than rent to problematic tenants. This case involved a publicly-owned building left empty because of slow bureaucracy.

Dan’s search for a kindergarten for his child is going badly. It’s not all his fault – Berlin has a shortage of kita spots. Thousands of people protested against the kita crisis. Dan tells us the rumors he’s heard on the playground – parents offering to help kitas cheat the system to collect more fees from the government, for example.

This episode was recorded live at the Comedy Cafe Berlin on Sunday May 27. Hosts: Jöran Mandik, Joel Dullroy and Daniel Stern.

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Return of the Toxic Caterpillars

Sick of cars parking in bike lanes? Write own parking tickets during Falschparker Aktionswoche, which starts on May 28. Illegal parkers are fined just €20 in Berlin if caught, while the EU average is €100. You can use an app called Wegeheld to report drivers to the authorities, if you don’t mind being called a Spießer.

Trees in Berlin parks are being wrapped in white webs by an invasion of oak processionary moth caterpillars. Watch out for their bristles – they contain a toxin which irritates the skin and causes respiratory problems. The trees should recover in a few weeks, though.

Karneval der Kulturen is on again this weekend all around Kreuzberg 61, but it might be the last year it’s held there due to rising security costs. If you don’t like crowds, try the Berlin Mural Festival, found on walls across the city.

Our next live show is on 6pm, Sunday May 27. We’re back at the Comedy Cafe Berlin.

This episode was presented by Joel Dullroy and Daniel Stern, and brought to you by RadioEins.

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U-Bahn Flood Alert


Chris Dercon has resigned from the Volksbuehne Theater, just six months into the job, and following a lot of fuss over his appointment. It seems he had failed to secure enough sponsorship money to pay the bills. Joel says he wasn’t given a fair chance. Konrad says he was always wrong for the job.

The AFD tried to shut down Berghain, complaining about the strange hours, sex and drugs, bad music and exclusive door policy. The AFD representative Sybille Schmidt used to run a punk club. The party later backed down from the proposal.

The U-Bahn network has a special alarm system in the case of a flash flood in the tunnels. It could have to be activated if a skyscraper being built on Alexanderplatz breaks the water table and floods 17 stations on the U2, U5 and U8 lines. Züruck schwimmen, bitte!

It’s garden season, but if you want a kleingarten plot on the edge of town you’ll have to wait three years. There are already 12,000 people on a waiting list for one of 70,000 gardens.

Come to our live recording of the next episode of How To F#€k Up an Airport. It’s on Sunday April 29, 6pm, at Prachtwerk in Neukölln.

This episode was presented by Joel Dullroy and Konrad Werner, and brought to you by RadioEins.

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Hasenheide Goat Killers


Two men who killed a goat in the Hasenheide petting zoo have been sentenced to 10 months in jail. Their lawyer said they were hungry, and argued for leniency as they only took one leg. Also, all meat eaters are animal killers, he said.

Another Berlin ban has been overturned by a court. Horses and carriages will be allowed back in front of the Brandenburger Tor, despite the city government’s attempt to forbid them. The city’s prohibitions on AirBnB, Uber and beer bikes have all been watered down through legal action.

Spreepark at Plänterwald is now open for tours. But high levels of arsenic contamination have been found at the formerly abandoned theme park. Still want to jump the fence?

As Berlin’s unemployment rate falls to half of its 2005 level, Mayor Michael Müller has proposed introducing a “solidarity basic income.” Unlike a real basic income, it would oblige recipients to do municipal or social work. Would creative projects like podcasts count?

If you want to protest against rising rents, join the Mietenwahnsinn (Rental Madness) demo on April 14 at 2pm, starting at Potsdamer Platz.

This episode was presented by Maisie Hitchcock and Joel Dullroy, and brought to you by RadioEins.

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RS Live: Renting Out Your Room

How much do Berlin’s bottle collectors earn? Our guest Wouter Bernhardt has done the math – it’s a measly €150 a month. He thinks it amounts to a form of socially accepted poverty. Wouter is host of the Berlinology podcast. Listen to the full episode of ‘The Bottle Collector’ here: http://viertausendhertz.de/bln02/

The Berlin Senate has changed the AirBnB law to allow people to rent out their flats as holiday apartments for up to 60 days per year. Starting on May 1, you can obtain a registration number from the Bürgeramt, which must be displayed online. But you still risk getting evicted by your landlord for using your flat for commercial purposes.

We talk to Jana Burbach and Niko Schulz-Dornburg, the writers of a new TV series about flat sharing in Berlin. The show is called Just Push Abuba, and it’s the first English-language show produced by ZDF. Watch it online at: https://www.zdf.de/serien/just-push-abuba

In February, Berlin passed a milestone: the Berlin wall has now been down for longer than it was up (28 years). At the same time, an opinion poll found that Die Linke became the most popular party in Berlin for the first time since 1990. The city’s R2G coalition parties (Die Linke, SPD and Die Grünen) would get 57% of the vote. Are they doing a good job? Joel thinks so. Our guest Konrad Werner thinks they could do better.

Some Berliners want to dramatically reduce advertising in the city. Berlin Werbefrei is an initiative collecting signatures to trigger a referendum. They propose eliminating ads on public buildings. It would reduce the Berlin’s revenue by €31 million annually, or 0.1% of the state budget. Find out more at https://berlin-werbefrei.de

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Cherry Tree Massacre

Bike thefts are down 11% in Berlin. Just over 30,000 bikes were reported stolen in the past year, 4000 less than the year before. Has the flood of shared bikes helped?

There’s been a cherry tree massacre at the Garten der Welt in Marzahn. Seventeen cherry trees were chopped down on Sunday. The kirchbäume were the garden’s biggest drawcard each spring during the cherry blossom season. The gardens have been targeted by protests over a plan to have sheep and cattle graze on nearby paddocks.

Don’t be confused if soon see U3 trains running on the U1 line. The BVG is extending the U3 all the way to Warschauer Straße to increase service frequency. In the past 10 years, passenger numbers have increased by 17%, but there are about 5% less carriages.

The Berlin Feminist Film Week is on now with a programme of movies made by women, transgender and queer film-makers. It’s on at Crcrl in Neukölln and Babylon in Mitte until Wednesday March 14.

This episode was presented by Joel Dullroy and Maisie Hitchcock, and brought to you by RadioEins.

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RS Live: Inside Tempelhof

Film director Karim Ainouz tells us what life was really like for refugees living in Tempelhof airport. His documentary “Zentralflughafen THF” was filmed in the camp, which recently closed.

Could public transport in Germany soon be free? The federal government suggested it as a way of reducing air pollution from diesel cars. What would Berlin be like if dirty cars are banned? Should car manufacturers be made to pay for cheating and lying?

Maisie says Berlin’s U-Bahns are filling up with more passengers. That might be because the BVG has cut costs and failed to order enough trains. They’re now allowing graffiti-tagged carriages to stay on the tracks.

This episode was recorded live at the Comedy Cafe Berlin on Sunday February 25, 2018. Hosts: Maisie Hitchcock, Joel Dullroy and Daniel Stern.

Image © Juan Sarmiento, Luxbox films.

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