Archives For Germany

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.

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 (DW.de).

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…

woman in her sixties stands in front of wrought iron gate

Martha Hinrichsen, granddaughter of Henri Hinrichsen, at the ‘Florentine’ gate of her grandfather’s former home and music publishing house in Leipzig, October 2014.

Dispossessed of his famous company, Jewish music publisher Henri Hinrichsen was put to death in Auschwitz. His grandchildren can finally celebrate the return to Leipzig of his Edition Peters – more than 75 years later.

Read the full article on Deutsche Welle (DW), here.

Mogadishu, Somalia seen from the International Space Station.

Mogadishu, Somalia seen from the International Space Station. Source: ESA and astronaut Paolo Nespoli, user Magisstra on Flickr (http://bit.ly/1vMB2S3).

Long before I set off for the Arthur Burns Fellowship in Berlin, I came across an American-German journalist named Michael Scott Moore, with whom I corresponded about a story I was chasing for As It Happens back in 2011.

On a personal note, we connected when he told me about how he came to be working with Der Spiegel International and what it was like to work in Germany. I had thought about the possibility of working there because my girlfriend is German.

About two months after we communicated, he traveled to Somalia to gather material for a book on piracy. On that trip he was kidnapped. He was was still being held hostage when I got to Berlin in July.

Continue Reading…

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.

a man and three women stand holding internet equipment

CEO Ute-Gabriel Boucsein (second from left) and members of the Buergerbreitbandnetz Gmbh team.

Shunned by government and big telecom companies, a group of villagers in rural northwest Germany is set to expand the super-fast internet network they built to a second village. The Local’s Tomas Urbina went to meet the villagers as they prepare to put shovels in the ground.

On a Thursday evening in August, about half the residents of Sollwitt, a village of 123 homes nestled in the green fields near Germany’s border with Denmark, jammed into the only restaurant in town. They were there to hear how lightning fast internet service was going to launch their village into the future.

“I think in future we will need this bigger bandwidth,” said Roger Cattin, a retired computer science professor who moved to Sollwitt a year ago.

“I like it very much that the local people are doing something to get this fast internet to our village.”

Read the full article on The Local Germany, 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.