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12.30 p.m. – the news colossus

17.08.2015 – Jürg Müller

You no longer have to sit as quiet as a mouse in front of the radio set at 12.30 p.m. to find out what is going on in the world. News has become a mass commodity available any time and anywhere thanks to the internet, smartphones and similar devices. But for generations the broadcast time of what remains German-speaking Swiss radio’s best-known news programme was sacrosanct. In terms of audience figures, the 12.30 p.m. news was “a Matterhorn-like peak on the chart for decades”, as Kurt Witschi outlines in his book entitled: “Die Zeit: 12.30 Uhr.” (The Time is 12.30 p.m.). Few people could provide a better insight into the development of 90 years of news on Swiss radio than the former news editor. He himself influenced news editing at Swiss radio DRS (today SRF) for over 40 years in various positions. The author is able to draw upon vast experience and provides a fascinating look behind the scenes of the “news factory” sprinkled with anecdotes of minor and major dramas. The extensive chapter on the Second World War period and the difficulties faced under censorship are especially absorbing. Anyone who has read this eloquently written book with its wealth of factual information will listen to radio news differently afterwards.

Kurt Witschi, “Die Zeit: 12.30 Uhr. 90 Jahre Nachrichten am Schweizer Radio”, Verlag Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Zurich 2015, 248 pages, CHF 41.90