RS#01: Bowie, rent increases & refugees

How fancy is your flat? There’s a checklist you can use to fight against rental increases. If your building has a communal party room and video intercom, your rent might go up. But if you don’t have a proper shower or bike racks, you can argue for a rent reduction.

We pay tribute to David Bowie, the ultimate Berlin international temporary resident, who wrote three albums while living here from 1976 to 1978. In “Heroes” he sung the prophetic lyric “I remember standing by the wall… and we kissed as though nothing would fall.” He also wrote a few klangers, like the incorrectly spelt “Neukoln”. Bowie did Berlin before all of us, and better than any of, and better than all of us. We dance in his shadow.

Tempelhof referendum revisited: The city government is trying to re-write the citizen-initiated law preventing development on Tempelhofer Feld, in order to build refugee accommodation. Critics say the law is losely worded and would allow luxury flat development – the very thing the referendum was against.

Council buys back houses: A Berlin city council has found a new tactic to stop house price increases. The Green controlled Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg council used its first-refusal right to prevent a speculative investor from buying an entire building in Wrangelstraße. Instead, the house will be bought by the city-owned housing company Gewobag, together with a non-profit foundation. This will allow the tenants to keep paying cheap rents.

Thanks to our supporters Mobile Kino, Berlin’s traveling cinema. They’re presenting a Quentin Tarantino retrospective from January 15 to 30. Check out their website for more details:

Recorded live at Donau115 on Monday January 11. Presenters: Joel Dullroy, Jöran Mandik and Daniel Stern. Filmed by Victoria Linchong.

RS#09: The Kino Babylon strike – who’s right?

Workers at the iconic Kino Babylon have been picketing in front of the cinema for months now, demanding more than the minimum wage. The cinema says it can’t pay more, and has filed for bankruptcy. Film goers are being asked to take sides, but who’s right in such a messy situation? The Radio Spaetkauf team have a vigorous debate about workers’ rights and business realities.

The city is filling up with asylum seekers. Many public buildings are being retrofitted to house refugees, including Tempelhof Airport, where up to 5000 people will eventually stay. Anyone can help by volunteering for a few hours. Sign up at

Thanks to Donau115 for hosting our live recording. Radio Spaetkauf is Joel, Maisie, Jöran and Daniel Stern.

RS#08: Live at Donau115

A massive pollution scandal is unfolding on Berlin’s doorstep. It has been discovered that Berlin’s drinking water is being polluted with sulfate from a huge coal mine in Brandenburg.

The coal mine, run by the Swedish energy company Vattenfall, has been operating for decades near the town of Welzow, about 150km south of Berlin. The coal it is digging up lignite, or brown coal, which is a particularly dirty kind of coal that produces far higher greenhouse gasses than black coal. Not only that, but the mine itself has been pumping its waste water into the Spree river for years. It has claimed that the water is treated and cleaned before it is discharged.

But now water tests in Berlin have found that the amount of sulfate in the river has increased to above 300 milligrams. Scientists say that 250 mg is the safe limit. Above that, the sulfate starts to erode the concrete infrastructure of the city’s water system, and it starts affecting people’s health from 600 mg. For now the water coming out of your tap is still safe to drink.

The opening of a second coal mine in Welzow is currently planned but disputed. Some locals fear for their houses, which stand on mining ground. Others fear for their livelihood if the plans for the new mine don’t go ahead, as the regions economy is largely built on coal-mining, which has a more than 100 year tradition here. Photo by GuenterHH on Flickr.

RS #06: Bürgeramt blues – how to get an appointment

Radio Spaetkauf is Berlin’s news show. On this episode: Europe’s refugee crisis is hitting Berlin. Over 550 asylum seekers are arriving each day to seek a safer life. The city’s bureaucrats are struggling to keep up with the influx, but volunteers are helping hand out water bottles as refugees wait in the hot sun to file their applications for asylum. The actor Til Schweiger has stepped in to call for more shelters for refugees, which has earned him our respect.
Got a problem getting into the Bürgeramt to register your address? A startup has created a website where you can book an appointment at short notice for between €25 and €45. However it appears to operate by booking all the available appointments, then selling them back to desperate citizens.
The BER airport is in trouble again, this time because one of the main contractors has filed for insolvency. That means the much-delayed opening date of late 2017 may be pushed back even further.
Wondering why there are so many wasps around this summer? Our animal kingdom expert Jöran has the answer.
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