Radio Broadcasts

Rundfunkgeschichten für Kinder; Radio Stories for Children (1927-1933)

Between 1927 and 1933, Benjamin produced around eighty radio broadcasts, mostly for children. The recordings are lost, but around one third of the radio scripts have been preserved. They have recently (2014) been published in English translation for the first time.

It is significant that Benjamin, arguably the most important media theorist of the twentieth century, embraced the new medium of radio and worked as a radio broadcaster. In this way, his writings about new technological media are also informed by his own radio work.

The broadcasts include the following topics: Berlin dialect, Berlin street markets, Berlin puppet theatre, Demonic Berlin, Berlin Toys, Berlin Tenements, the Borsig locomotive factory in Tegel (a Berlin suburb), the graphic artist Theodor Hosemann, the writer Theodor Fontane, a brass-works, witch trials, bandits in olden days, gypsies, the Bastille, Caspar Hauser, Dr. Faust, Cagliostro, forged stamps, bootleggers, Naples, the destruction of Pompey, the Lisbon earthquake, the Firth of Tay train disaster, the Mississippi flood of 1927, and shaggy dog stories.

Literarische Rundfunkvorträge; Literary Talks for Radio

The scripts of five literary broadcasts for adults have been preserved: (1) on children’s literature, (2) André Gide, (3) Thornton Wilder and Ernest Hemingway, (4) Paris literary life and (5) Friedrich Sieburg.

English Translation

Walter Benjamin, Radio Benjamin, ed. by Lecia Rosenthal, trans. by Jonathan Lutes, with Lisa Harries Schumann and Diana Reese (London and New York: Verso, 2014)