Happy Birthday KCRW Berlin! A year in the life of a roving reporter

Last November, I was winding my way through the cavernous halls of the Muskibrauerei, my recorder kit in my bag, wondering for the umpteenth time if I was in the right place.


A post for Omnified by Sylvia Cunningham


Last November, I was winding my way through the cavernous halls of the Muskibrauerei, my recorder kit in my bag, wondering for the umpteenth time if I was in the right place.

This was an event where surgeons and engineers would talk about building a fully implantable artificial heart…and here I was, feeling like I was plunging into the depths of a funky medieval castle, outfitted with faded brick and retro lighting. I mean, shouldn’t there be at least one sterile white wall, some fluorescent overheads?

Ah…how young and naive I was. This was not “Science Week,” this was Berlin Science Week, and that word made all the difference.

I moved to Germany in August 2017 as a grantee in the Fulbright Young Professional Journalist program, and I started working with KCRW Berlin just after the station launched. Though I’ve worked on about 50 stories since, I can still recite the opening line of my first script from memory: “This is KCRW Berlin, I’m Sylvia Cunningham with Tech and Science Thursday…today, we’re talking about a matter of the heart.”

Now in the days to come, Berlin Science Week will be one of our media partners, and we’ll be interviewing a number of scientists and doctors, cutting through big words and abstract concepts, to bring our listeners the voices behind the research. As an associate editor and reporter at KCRW Berlin, I love being part of the brainstorming that happens to help determine what our team’s coverage will be.

Before moving to Berlin, I lived in New York and worked with “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.” The week news broke that there was a terror attack at the Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz, I worked with producers as the latest video and information fed in from our crew and reporters in the field.

Now I’m the one in the field. Last year, I reported on the Breitscheidplatz market for KCRW Berlin on its opening day and interviewed the design team behind the newly unveiled memorial in honor of the victims. A story that I initially worked on in a newsroom 4,000 miles away takes on a whole new significance when I’m the one standing across from a vendor who still feels lucky he wasn’t working the day the attack happened.

Reflecting on my one year work anniversary alongside the station’s first birthday, it’s been a privilege to discover the city through the people who live in it and to share their stories with our listeners.

Recently a friend asked me if I wanted to stay in Berlin because I liked my work or because I liked the city, and that made me think: the driving force behind coming to Berlin was the city itself. But I had found a job that I loved as well: one where I collaborated alongside a passionate team to take our ideas from inception to execution, one where I interviewed the filmmakers, chefs, musicians, and artists, who make Berlin the place it is.

So here’s my answer: I would want to do this job anywhere in the world. But if this job didn’t exist, I’d still want to be in Berlin. And that, as the friend put it, makes me one exceptionally lucky person.

KCRW Berlin is here to stay, and I couldn’t be happier to be staying here along with it.

Do you love what we do? Then take action to help us celebrate our first birthday and help us achieve even more in the coming year: 

  1. Donate during our pledge drive, from now until October 28.
  2. Share this story and our other birthday posts on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  3. Show your love by purchasing a KCRW Berlin t-shirt, mug or keychain bottle opener, available in our online store