Xavier and the Flamingos

Storm Xavier lashed Berlin with winds of 120 kilometres an hour on October 5. Public transport and flights were cancelled for most of the day, and regional train lines were cut for several days. Five people died from falling trees and car accidents, and 18 flamingos at the Berlin Zoo didn’t make it through the storm. How do storms get their names? You can pay €260.61 to name a storm. The money goes to climate research at the Institut für Meteorologie at Berlin’s Freie Universität. Sign up for one at http://www.met.fu-berlin.de/wetterpate.

Only weeks after Berliners voted to keep Tegel Airport open, Lufthansa has announced it will soon begin operating Boeing 747s at Tegel. Three 747 services will run daily between Tegel and Frankfurt due to high passenger demand following the Air Berlin insolvency. The airline will have to pay a €515 euro penalty per flight to land the noisy jets, none of which goes to the long-suffering residents of Pankow.

Following the German national elections, the Friedrichstadt Palast director Berndt Schmidt said supporters of the Alternative für Deutschland party should hand back their tickets. He later said AFD voters were welcome, but might feel uncomfortable in his multi-cultural, multi-sexual, multi-religious theatre. The AFD reacted by calling for Friedrichstadt Palast to lose 12% of its public funding. On Saturday October 7 the theatre was evacuated due to a bomb threat. Among the 1700 audience members were ten AFD supporters who were given tickets by their party.

RS Live: The Escalator Traffic Report

Comedian and journalist Drew Portnoy tells us about his return to Berlin after several years away. The city has grown by the equivalent of two Bonns in that time and is feeling crowded. At least the Kottbusser Tor escalators are fixed.

Berlin-based refugee rescue charity Jugend Rettet is in trouble. The organization’s boat has been impounded by Italian authorities. Jugend Rettet says they are being bullied out of the Mediterranean.

Are you a freelancer in Germany? Our guest Henrietta Mehlis from the SMart freelancers cooperative has some tips. Don’t confuse your tax identification number from your tax number – they’re different. And don’t trust cheap health insurance. She is running a free info session as part of European Freelancers Week at 5pm, 11.09.17, at Betahaus. More info at www.smart-de.org.

Berlin is sending 28 representatives to the Bundestag after last week’s elections. Here’s the breakdown by party: CDU 6; Die Linke 6; SPD 5; Die Grünen 4; AFD 4; FDP 3. The Greens barely held on to Hans-Christian Ströbele’s seat after infighting. The CDU’s failed mayoral candidate Frank Henkel also failed to win a parliamentary seat.

Berlin also voted 56.1% “yes” in the referendum on whether to keep Tegel Airport open. The R2G coalition now has to decide how to react – ignore the non-binding result, or try to please Tegel fans and face huge legal challenges from businesses, residents and environmental activists. Die Linke released a study finding 30% of all flights to Berlin could easily be replaced by train journeys.

The offstage drama at the Volksbühne continues. Squatters occupied the theatre demanding that new director Chris Dercon be replaced by a collective directorship. They were evicted after rejecting a compromise to hold their art-action in the Grüne Salon.

Dan names and shames a Berlin startup, Your Superfoods, which is begging for volunteers to pack boxes instead of paying for staff.

This episode was presented by Maisie Hitchcock, Joel Dullroy and Daniel Stern, and recorded at the Comedy Cafe Berlin.

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Tegel Saved, Now For Thai Park


Tegel Airport fans won a referendum on whether the hexagonal Flughafen should stay open post-BER. The “yes” vote was 56.1%. But it doesn’t mean Tegel won’t close, as the federal and Brandenburg governments would have to agree. Renovation and residential soundproofing costs could reach a billion euros. Tegel supporters now want an U-Bahn extension as well.

The referendum happened on the same day as the German federal election, in which Angela Merkel’s CDU won almost a third of  votes. Berlin voted differently: here the CDU won almost 23%, and Die Linke came second with about 19%. There were protests in front of the AFD election party at a venue at Alexanderplatz. The far-right party won 12% of votes in Berlin.

On September 24, 28,000 runners raced in the Berlin Marathon. Kenya’s Eluid Kipchoge won the race for the second time, but missed out on a world record by 35 seconds, The women’s race was won Gladys Cherono, also from Kenya. Another runner was Berlin’s former state secretary for security, Bernd Krömer from the CDU, who failed to appear at a parliamentary inquiry only two days earlier, claiming illness.

The popular street food market known as Thai Park was raided last weekend. A squad of police and Ordnungsamt officers shut down the food stalls in Preussenpark in Wilmersdorf. Thai Park is still happening, but more raids are possible. The local CDU councillor said the food market must be either cleared away or legalized.

The German Comic Con is on this weekend at Messe Berlin. If you don’t like cosplay, come along to the live recording of Radio Spaetkauf at Comedy Cafe Berlin on Sunday October 1, 17.30.

This episode was presented by Joel Dullroy and Daniel Stern.

A plague of rats, crabs and Irish airlines


Berlin is a city with over 2.4 million rats. Lately they’ve been sighted more frequently as heavy rain has flushed them out of the drains. Several playgrounds in the north of the city have been closed due to rodents. A slightly more unusual pest, the invasive red American crayfish, has been seen scuttling along the paths in Tiergarten. More than 3000 crustaceans were caught as part of a recent eradication program.

This year’s Lollapalooza festival at the Hoppegarten race track ended in S-Bahn chaos. There weren’t enough trains to handle the crowds. Trains arrived already full of revellers from an Oktoberfest nearby. Police closed the packed S-Bahn station for several hours. The S-Bahn blamed the festival organizers for not paying for extra trains. Next year Lollapalooza will move to Olympiastadion – the third time it has had to relocate.

Want to buy Air Berlin? You’ll have to pay more than the current highest bid – half a billion euros. Air Berlin’s pilots aren’t making things easy for the airline. This week 200 of them called in sick on the same day to preemptively protest the possible pay cut they’ll face if Lufthansa takes over.

Ryanair has been stirring controversy by paying for election ads for the FDP supporting the pro-Tegel referendum campaign. The giant blue billboards featured Ryanair’s logo, which is possibly illegal. The Reinickendorf local council threatened to ban the sponsored ads. The FDP eventually covered up the Ryanair logo with censored stickers.

This episode was presented by Maisie Hitchcock and Dan Stern, and brought to you by RadioEins.

This episode was presented by Maisie Hitchcock and Daniel Stern, and brought to you by Radio Eins, Berlin’s public broadcaster.

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RS Live: Confessions of a Food Deliverer

Radio Spaetkauf Live

Comedian Caroline Clifford signed up as a bicycle food courier to earn extra cash. But she found the income depends on cycle speed and can be €5 an hour or less, especially as customers don’t tip.

Germany’s federal election is on September 24. So far it’s a dull campaign. But as Konrad Werner explains, in today’s turbulent world a boring election is quite remarkable. Chancellor Angela Merkel “represents the state of the permanent present” that voters in smooth-running Germany desire.

Is the Air Berlin bankruptcy being manipulated in favour of Lufthansa? Ryanair is accusing the German authorities of helping Lufthansa take over Air Berlin, which would result in them grabbing 95% of domestic German air travel.

The Tegel referendum is on the same day as the election. To quell concerns about the capacity of the new BER airport, BER’s manager has released an expansion plan. BER will grow from 22 to 55 million by 2040, with new terminals. The Tagesspiegel reported that new terminals may be connected with a gondola. A soft opening date of October 2018 has been announced.

We update some old stories: The man who kicked a woman down the stairs at Hermannstraße U-Bahn station in December last year was jailed for two years and four months. Our friends at Radbahn crowdfunded €31,000 to help them continue pushing for a bike path under the U1. Volksbühne’s new director Chris Dearcon has taken over and will host his first event, a free 10-hour programme in the Tempelhof building on September 10.

Some plugs:

This episode was presented by Jöran Mandik, Joel Dullroy and Daniel Stern, with Caroline Clifford and Konrad Werner.

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