Lecture #9 Wolfgang Schlag

Wolfgang Schlag is working as a radio journalist at  Ö1 in Austria. He is also involved in different projects at FH JOANNEUM. In October he is organizing the »Market of the future« festival in the Kunsthaus. 

He started his lecture with the history of radio. In the 1920’s the first radio shows went on air in Pittsburgh. Soon after this radio became a new form of communication all over the world. In America radio started with up to 40.000 listeners, 2/3 years later they had 500.000 – 800.000 listeners, radio was very successful. They started with music, literature, educational programs and commercials. 

In Austria radio started in 1924, it was state owned and called RAVAG. The topics were more or less the same than in America. In 1938 the radio was overtaken by force by the national socialists. Something similar happened also in 2000, when Austria had a right wing government (coalition between ÖVP and FPÖ) and members of the FPÖ took over the radio station in Klagenfurt.

Radio is politically a very important medium, even in times of television and internet. Wolfgang Schlag believes that radio will stay important in the future. 

The history of modern radio started in Austria in 1967 with Ö3 (Pop radio station). Also Ö1 started in 1967. It was meant to play mainly classical music. deliver education in various forms (f. e. Broadcasting) and offer political information. The first political news on the radio came up during the Second World War, since people had to be informed about the ongoing political events. 

1967 was a very interesting time regarding music. The modern Pop music started. Ö3 offered lots of different genres like Jazz and latin American music, but was mainly playing pop music. There was also a format called »Music Box“, which was a one hour program on the radio. It was a little bit radical and provocative and was f. e. playing the same record over and over again for one hour. Wolfgang Schlag joined the »Music Box« in 1986. He was especially interested in features (about social topics, strange guys,..). 

In 1990 radio in Austria changed a lot. Ö3 got more commercial and less critical. There was more easy music and less other content. Ö1 on the other hand became a really colorful, cultural broadcasting station with critical programs about capitalism, globalization, environmental issues, healthcare, traveling and interesting people (not only prominent people, but also quite ordinary people with an interesting life). Ö1 was looking for »color sprinkles« all over Austria to communicate them to their listeners. 

At some point in his life, Wolfgang Schlag wanted more than radio and started to do reportages for the television program »ARTE« for four years. Afterwards, he went back to Ö1, still fascinated about this job. 

Ö1 is sitting in a so called »Funkhaus«, which is the second oldest of it’s kind in Europe. It was built by the Nazis and has a really great architecture. Now, at corona time, he is not working from the »Funkhaus« but doing home office. Everyone is producing their broadcasts at home and then they are put together to 24 hours of program. 

Ö1 is about helping Austrians. With their program they are working on democracy, education but also on fun. Nowadays, it is more and more important to offer really good educational programs. Of course there is a lot of educational content on social media too, but on social media the orientation is missing. There are many fake news around that are hard to distinguish. Many of those fake new come directly from Russia, attempts to destabilize Europe.

Like Wolfgang Schlag I also think that radio will stay important in the future or at least I hope so.