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Since we started broadcasting Wurfsendung programmes in summer 2004 there has been a huge reaction. You can find a selection of the press reviews and listeners’ reactions here.

09.12.2008 09.12.2008 Wurfsendung thoughts from Austria

Wurfsendung thoughts..
On the difference between good innovation and bad imitation.

ORF and Standard have been throwing poems around for a couple of months. Wurf poems they call the short daily programmes that make me think over and over again. What, I then always think, is this title trying to say? That these poems are just simply thrown after us or cast thoughtlessly at our feet? Hardly. Could it be that these special poems are dangerous, because they can touch us and cause permanent damage? The selection seems too arbitrary to me for that.

I have a suspicion. On a German radio station - Deutschlandradio Kultur – they have had so-called Wurfsendung programmes for years; short pithy audio texts that are scattered into the program from time to time. A child could understand the pun. The word “Wurfsendung” (literally: circular) transports the notion of the non-binding and universally known postal circulars to the actual product of radio, its programmes, thereby giving it a new meaning. The classic case of innovation through bisociation, as Arthur Koestler would say, or simply: through a combination of the Existing, something New was created. Science calls it creativity; the old German word for it is wit. And people like me also find that witty.

Now to my suspicion. A committee of important gentlemen from all sectors of the Republic on the ORF. One should introduce this clearly successful format in Austria as well, says a representative of industry. Everyone nods. But it must not cost anything, says a representative of the government. Everybody sighs. Then it must however have a distinctly different name and be different from the Prussian version, says a lawyer, otherwise the Krauts will demand license fees. Silence. The representative of culture then spoke up: I have an idea, let's only have poems, as they are more a kind of Austrian culture anyway than this meaningless German nonsense. Vigorous nodding, boos. Everyone is painfully aware that one of the most successful German Wurfsendung programmes, which is regularly repeated by popular request, is the tape that is played in every Viennese tram as it approaches the opera intersection. Everyone who hears it in Germany simply bursts into laughter.

Unanimity is reached. Only a name is missing. Lots of brainstorming, a long list of useless formulations. The chairman has his next appointment in five minutes and must come to a resolution. He takes command: The Germans say Wurf-Sendung (lit. circular Broadcasts) because they broadcast everything imaginable. We only broadcast poems; let us therefore call them Wurf Poems (circular Poems). General relief. Roma locatur. However the representative of one half of the country introduces a restriction: We must form a commission to ensure that right and left wing authors are allowed to have their say in direct proportion to the general election results. The representative of the other half of the empire agrees, the size of the fees for commission meetings, the chairman of the commission and his deputies – even including a woman - are determined. The meeting is concluded.

… and since then the Wurf poems have been called Wurf poems. Whether the swine that has these pearls cast before them understands this, was not on the agenda. With its new name, the ORF has once again hit the listener on the head.