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The Politics of Talk on German Free Radio Stations


Jan Pinseler

Institute of Communication Studies and Media Culture Lüneburg University
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Today there are a wide range of non-commercial radio stations in Germany. Though mostly treated similarly by broadcasting authorities there are major differences in how these stations are thought of and run. This paper argues that for community radios to be radical media they have to develop a way of empowering people to use radio for promoting their issues, especially helping those who are normally not heard. This goes far beyond the training for media literacy most German broadcasting regulators encourage. Drawing on a conversation analysis case study of current affairs programmes on a German Free Radio station, it is pointed out that these shows incorporate both forms of talk that encourage political participation and thereby successfully empower people to take part in political discourse and forms of talk that simply imitate commercial and public service broadcasting stations, thereby applying power structures inherent in these organisations to community radio.

How to Cite: Pinseler, J., 2008. The Politics of Talk on German Free Radio Stations. Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture, 5(1), pp.67–85. DOI:
Published on 01 Feb 2008.
Peer Reviewed


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