Archives For Berlin

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.

young man stands in front of historial Berlin Wall photo outdoors

Franz Hildebrandt-Harangozo at the Berlin Wall memorial trail on Bernauer Strasse, September 2014.

It signalled the end of the Cold War and cleared the way for German reunification, but for a generation of young people born after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, its impact is first and foremost a family affair.

Read the full article on The Local Germany, here.

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.

reporter interviews man with cows in background

Interviewing dairy farmer Holger Jensen about his farm’s internet use in Löwenstedt, Germany. August 2014.

The Arthur F. Burns Fellowship provides young journalists from Canada, the United States and Germany the opportunity to live and work in each other’s countries and work in a news organization in the host country. It’s often described a journalist exchange program.

With a little less than a month left in my stay in Germany, the German embassy in Canada asked me for my thoughts on the Arthur F. Burns Fellowship. The fellowship is supported by the German government, as well as several private sponsors.

Read the post on the German embassy website, here.

three young men hold signs with taxis all around

Frederik Roeder (centre) and fellow students protest anti-Uber taxi work stoppage in Berlin in June 2014. Courtesy: Frederik Roeder.

Uber has quickly become the most contentious technology company in Germany, challenging the taxi establishment as well as regulators across the country, as attempts to ban the chauffeur app leap from the municipal to the national stage. The following is an excerpt of an opinion piece I pitched and edited for The Local Germany.


As Uber and its chauffeur app continue to operate in Germany despite a national ban, one faithful user tells The Local why he became a fan of the company and the app from day one.

There are three major reasons why I prefer Uber to a regular taxi:

1 – Price: Uber Pop offers urban rides at a great price, cheaper than legacy taxis by at least 20 percent.

2 – Convenience: Uber is convenient; it’s easy to use and to pay with credit card.

3 – Quality and Safety: You can get a really nice ride in a fancy car and the app knows where you are and who is driving you.

Read the full opinion piece on The Local Germany, here.

crowds outside a large building on a sunny day

Crowds arrive at the Berlin exhibition grounds for the IFA technology show. September 2014.

Bendable televisions, a smartphone with an edge and the smart home that takes care of you — the IFA consumer electronics show burst onto Berlin’s exhibition grounds on Friday.

Crowds poured into the brand new City Cube Berlin to ogle the latest offerings from global electronics giant Samsung. With the new building all to themselves, Samsung blanketed visitors in a blue and white glow, showing off products as diverse as vacuums, washing machines and ovens to smartphones, virtual reality helmets and giant bendable televisions.

There was hardly anything Samsung didn’t have its high-tech fingers in.

Fitting, then, that Samsung CEO BK Yoon had the honour of delivering this year’s keynote speech to a packed house.

Read the full article on The Local Germany, here.

a run down country estate

The Haus am Bogensee, north of Berlin. Source: Flickr user Stadtkatze (https://www.flickr.com/photos/stadtkatze/7085231647).

After two failed attempts, Berlin is trying again to sell the sprawling estate and villa once known as Joseph Goebbels’ illicit love nest, but so far, nobody’s buying.

The address of the former villa of Hitler’s propaganda minister is as misleading as it is revealing.

Number One, Friendship Place, northeast of Berlin, is thought to have been where Joseph Goebbels produced some of his most virulent speeches against Jews. But it’s also where Goebbels wooed the starlets of the Berlin’s Babelsberg film studios.

Read the full article on The Local Germany, here.

hand holds iphone displaying Uber app

Berlin bans Uber app, taxis rejoice

Berlin has ordered the alternative taxi service Uber to halt its taxi app in the city or face steep fines.

The Berlin Senate handed down the order on Wednesday evening, demanding that the San Francisco-based Uber stop offering its services in Berlin through its popular smartphone app.

Uber, which now risks a €25,000 fine for each violation of the ban, immediately condemned the move as restricting consumers’ transport options.

Read the article on The Local Germany, here.

two elderly women in a small elevator

Ingeborg Koske, 86, and Christa Kaes, 83 in the elevator at Hansa-Ufer 5 in Berlin, August 2014.

Some came with canes, some with walkers, but they all came ready for a fight.

On Monday afternoon, elderly residents of the apartment block at Hansa-Ufer 5 gathered for a tenants meeting in the modest common room on the ground floor of the building on the banks of the Spree River.

In Berlin, it’s a familiar story. The rent spikes and those who can’t afford it are forced to move out.

In this case, the landlord — Swedish property giant Akelius — wants to renovate the building and surrounding property and wanted to charge 40-65 percent more rent. But this group of old folks wasn’t about to go quietly.

Read the full article on The Local Germany, here.