The Big Pond

A U.S.-German Listening Series

To mark Deutschlandjahr, Goethe-Institut Washington has partnered with KCRW Berlin, among other radio producers and broadcasters from the U.S. and Germany, to bring you “The Big Pond.”

“The Big Pond” is a series of podcasts spanning topics such as music, sports, history, and more – bridging the gap across the Atlantic and underscoring what the two countries share. Starting on August 6, we will be highlighting selected episodes of “The Big Pond,” airing one every Tuesday at 21:00, through November. The first piece to air will be KCRW Berlin’s exploration of Berlin’s Ringbahn.

Tune in beginning Tuesday, August 6 at 21:00.


Photo courtesy of Martin Reiter, Kunsthaus Tacheles Archive

The Big Pond #48: The Legacies of the Berlin Wall

Produced by KCRW Berlin

“It was chaos, it was total chaos.” When the Berlin Wall unexpectedly fell in 1989, it triggered a time of massive flux for the newly reunited capital of Germany. Subcultures and international trends combined with other creative forces to establish Berlin as a mecca for artists. For The Big Pond, KCRW Berlin speaks to Berliners who helped build the city’s lasting legacy.


Photo courtesy of Moorland-Spingarn Research Center

The Big Pond #46 Black Art, Berlin Stories – Looking for Alain Locke
Produced by Bilal Qureshi

In 1925, the African-American philosopher Alain Locke (1886-1954) launched a revolutionary black arts movement now known as the Harlem Renaissance. In this episode of The Big Pond, producer Bilal Qureshi traces Alain Locke’s ideas back to one city in particular – Berlin.


Photo © Marion Kraft

The Big Pond #50 Showing Our Colors
Produced by Jocelyn Robinson

People of mixed heritage lead complex lives, often navigating between two racial and/or cultural identities. Producer Jocelyn Robinson, who lives this experience, explores the formation of identity in the U.S. and Germany.


Photo © John Fago

The Big Pond #45: The Passion of Chris Strachwitz

Produced by the Kitchen Sisters

Chris Strachwitz is a man possessed. A “songcatcher,” capturing and recording the traditional, regional, down-home music of the U.S., his adopted home after his family left Germany following the end of World War II. His archive is jam-packed with 78s, LPs, 45s, reel-to-reels, cassettes, videos – a collection of all manner of recordings. For The Big Pond, The Kitchen Sisters present the story of Chris Strachwitz.


Photo (c) Bilal Qureshi

The Big Pond #39: Quietude – In Search of Radio Silence

Produced by Bilal Qureshi

In this radio travelogue, culture writer and journalist Bilal Qureshi explores Germany’s capital Berlin to find out about local origins, regulations and daily rituals of silence. To his ears, German “Stille” sounds and feels more present than the pulsating noise of US-American cities – and this episode of The Big Pond is a personal quest to understand why.


Photo (c) Catherine Lewis

The Big Pond #34: Finding My Parents

Produced by Jakob Lewis

Producer Jakob Lewis was born in a military hospital in Frankfurt, Germany. At the time, his dad was stationed at a U.S. army base in Wölfersheim, a nearby village. Jakob grew up hearing stories about his parents’ time in Germany during their early 20s, but Jakob doesn’t remember any of it – he left when he was six months old and he hasn’t been back since.

For this episode, Jakob and his wife, Catherine, set out on a journey to retrace his parents’ footsteps. What they didn’t realize was just how closely their journeys would be linked – like Jakob’s mother three decades earlier, Catherine is pregnant with the couple’s first child.


Photo ©Verónica Zaragovia

The Big Pond #37: 100 Years of the Bauhaus

Produced by Verónica Zaragovia

The Bauhaus school of art, architecture and design was founded in 1919, lasting only 14 years before the Nazis forced it to close its doors in 1933. Yet, the Bauhaus and its founding members continue to have a profound impact on the world of design, construction and building, making it one of the most influential schools to date.

Listen to this episode on the Goethe Institut’s website 


Rents_Photo by Rasande Tyskar on flickr licensed under CC-BY-NC 2.0

The Big Pond #28: Exploding Rents in San Francisco and in Berlin

Produced by Martina Gross

Rents in San Francisco have exploded in recent years; by now, the metropolis in Northern California has overtaken New York as the most expensive city in the U.S. In Germany’s capital Berlin, the issue of affordable housing is also a hot topic – some are even suggesting dispossessing companies owning more than 3,000 apartments.


Photo (c) Nina Bohlmann

The Big Pond #23: Sorting Out Recycling

Produced by Nina Bohlmann

Like most of the Western world, the U.S. and Germany have a waste problem – and recycling has been pushed by policymakers as one of the best ways to combat it. In Baltimore and Berlin, conversations with locals and experts reveal that recycling is not necessarily working as it should be on either side of the Atlantic.

Listen to this episode on the Goethe Institut’s website.


Detroit © Frank Hofmann

The Big Pond #17: The Detroit-Berlin-Connection

Produced by Frank Hofmann

Dimitri Hegemann, the mastermind behind the Berlin nightclub Tresor, has been nurturing an artistic connection between Berlin and Detroit since the early nineties. Hegemann wants to pay Detroit back for what its electronic music scene has done for Berlin – by converting former industrial spaces in Detroit into cultural hotspots.

Listen to this episode on the Goethe Institut’s website.  


© Melissa Gerr

The Big Pond #27: Welcome to Motherland

Produced by Melissa Gerr

Three women, two countries, one shared experience: motherhood. From giving birth to receiving support – producer Melissa Gerr looks at the role and expectations of being a mother in the U.S. and in Germany, revealing some startling differences.

Listen to this episode on the Goethe Institut’s website.


Photo (c) Ama Split and Riky Kiwy

The Big Pond #31: The Berlin Ringbahn

Produced by KCRW Berlin

Hop on board Berlin’s Ringbahn, a suburban train that carries over 400,000 passengers each day and circles some of the city’s most authentic and lively neighborhoods. Producer trio Monika Müller-KrollSylvia Cunningham, and Nikki Motson dedicate a day to riding the Ringbahn around the city. During their trip, they interview an array of Berliners entering and exiting at the train’s 27 stops, each station an entry into one of Berlin’s distinct districts.

Or listen to this episode on the Goethe Institut’s website.


The Big Pond #36: Luftbrücke – 70 Years of Memories

Produced by KCRW Berlin

Col. Gail S. Halvorsen. Photo by Sylvia Cunningham

On June 24, 1948, the Soviet military administration officially cut off roads and rails into West Berlin in the Berlin Blockade, isolating it from the rest of West Germany. In this episode of The Big Pond, KCRW Berlin reflects on the Berlin Airlift, a massive multinational effort to bring vital supplies to West Berliners via plane during the blockade. To tell this story, producers Monika Müller-KrollSylvia Cunningham, and Nikki Motson interview some of those who experienced it firsthand.

Or listen to this episode on the Goethe Institut’s website.


The Big Pond #29: Dieter Kosslick’s Last Red Carpet Ride 

Produced by The Kitchen Sisters

Photo (c) DPA

Dieter Kosslick is one of the film world’s best-known film festival directors. He’s put his stamp on the Berlin International Film Festival for the past 18 years, and the 69th edition of the festival in 2019 was his last. For The Big Pond, The Kitchen Sisters talk to Dieter Kosslick and many of the people he collaborated with over the years, resulting in a career-spanning profile.

Listen to this episode on the Goethe Institut’s website.


The Big Pond #07: Klinsmann in California

Produced by Kerstin Zilm

Photo (c) Silverlakes

Jürgen Klinsmann is a soccer legend in Germany, as a player and a coach. After leading the German national team to a third-place finish in the 2006 World Cup, he coached the US men’s soccer team from 2011 to 2016. But now, Klinsmann is anything but retired – in the summer of 2018, he created the Silverlakes Cup, an international youth soccer tournament in Southern California.

Listen to this episode on the Goethe Institut’s website.