Archives For Radio/Audio

a man and woman stand in a crowded room

Andreas and Nele Zechel await the start of the Die Drei ??? (The Three ???) audiobook premiere at the Hamburg Planetarium (September 2014).

Update, Jan. 9: This piece was singled out in CBC radio’s December ratings report as part of a very strong end to the year. “The Spark story, ‘In Germany, audio books are insanely popular and the voice actors are rock stars’ earned 29,000 page views.”

Update, Dec. 17: I just got word that this piece was the driver for an excellent week on the Spark website where page views more than doubled from the previous week. The mini-documentary provided nearly two-thirds of the page views to the site for the week.

“Each year, Germans buy more audiobooks than e-books, and the voice actors are as big as rock stars. This past summer, 20,000 Germans filled a Berlin stadium just to listen to the most popular audiobook series. Tomas Urbina gets inside the audiobook craze.”

This mini-documentary originally aired on CBC radio’s Spark on November 30, 2014 and again on Wednesday, December 3. See the post and listen to the piece on Spark’s website, here.

This mini-documentary originally aired on DW’s (Deutsche Welle) Inside Europe on November 2, 2014. It is a radio version of a story I reported for Deutsche Welle online (

One of Germany’s oldest music publishing houses marked its official return to Leipzig in October, more than 75 years after its owner, Henri Hinrichsen and his family, lost nearly everything in the Holocaust. His granddaughter, Martha Hinrichsen, born in New York, never thought she’d live to see it happen. Tomas Urbina went to meet her at the publishing house home in Leipzig.

The following report aired originally on CBC radio’s weekend newscast The World This Weekend, on November 1, 2014. It is a radio version of a story I reported for The Local Germany.

Canada is one of the world’s most wired countries, but some rural areas are still waiting to get high speed internet. They may have something to learn from Germany. A group of tiny villages has managed to go digital and they’re helping others step it up. Tomas Urbina reports…

Germany’s military said on Thursday it was ready to send its first shipment of arms to Kurds fighting Islamic extremists Isis in northern Iraq.

I went out to Berlin’s Alexanderplatz to ask people what they thought of the move.

We embedded the mix of opinions in an article on The Local Germany, which you can find here.

dog rummages through garbage pile

Radio: Putting a leash on Santiago’s half-million stray dogs

People who live in Chile’s capital Santiago hardly notice them anymore. But as an outsider, you can’t miss the thousands of stray dogs all over the city.

I’ve visited my family there many times and the dogs are always there: on the corner, in the park, at the market rummaging through garbage, on the stoop in front of the shop. A shabby pack of strays has even made its home on the grounds of the presidential palace, La Moneda, downtown.

And no wonder. A recent survey found there are half-a-million stray dogs on the street in Santiago’s capital region.

Come along as I follow a team of veterinarians tasked with helping the government contain the exploding stray dog population and find out why the problem is so out of control.

This piece aired on CBC Radio’s As It Happens in July 2014.

Franco Urbina standing in a dimly lit corridor
Photo: My father, Francisco Urbina, in the corridors under the seats of 
Santiago's National Stadium, where thousands of political prisoners were held.

Radio: Black Box – breaking the silence of my father’s past

Last September, Chile marked the 40th anniversary of the military coup that toppled elected Marxist President Salvador Allende, on September 11, 1973. The coup led to 17 years of brutal dictatorship under General Augusto Pinochet that deeply affected so many families, like my own.

The anniversary gave me chance to talk to my father about what had happened to him during that dark time, something he’d never talked about before with anyone.

Continue Reading…

You heard it on CBC radio’s As It Happens

The federal government has renewed funding for the PEARL Arctic research station, one year after it shut down. I broke this story today with CBC radio’s As It Happens.

Here’s the story based on the As It Happens interview (the audio is at the top left):


Oktoberfest beer tentFrom CBC radio’s The World This Weekend

Beer, bretzels, lederhosen and apps? Germany’s world-famous beer festival is a time-honoured tradition and more than 200 years old, but now specialized Oktoberfest smartphone apps are launching Munich’s folk fest into the mobile world. And the volk are on board.

Listen here:  (From 22:52 to 25:55)

Here’s a version of what aired on CBC Radio One on October 7, 2012:

pre-teen girl band practices

Unfinished Business crashes Toronto’s punk scene

At its core, punk rock is all about youthful rebellion: simple, honest and loud.

That’s what comes through when you hear a new punk trio making noise on Toronto’s music scene. They’re an all-girl band and they sing about the trials of daily life like falling in gym class or losing your science book. That’s because they’re only 12 years old.

I recently spent some time with the new punk group, Unfinished Business.

This piece aired on CBC Radio One in July 2012.

cyclist rides past a memorial poster for Jenna Morrison

Jenna Morrison and the push for cycling safety

The death of Jenna Morrison in November of 2011 shocked the city of Toronto. Not only had she died in a collision with a truck leaving a five-year-old son behind, she was also five-months pregnant. Her death caused an outcry for safer conditions for cyclists and created an organized effort to make trucks on the roads safer.

This piece appeared on in February of 2012, the day of a public meeting for the Safe Trucks initiative.…2/02/safety-cyclists

Photo by Alistair Maitland Photography.