Too Catholic For Munich′s Airwaves? | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 05.06.2004
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Too Catholic For Munich's Airwaves?

The decision to award a Catholic radio station one of Munich's coveted FM frequencies has caused outcry among critics who say the programming is too fundamentalist.


Radio Horeb will soon be spreading God's word over all of Munich

Klaus Mucha is a Catholic priest who, lately, has been receiving phone calls from angry parishioners cursing him, and telling him to go to hell. Mucha is one of several people who have dared to criticize a decision by Bavaria's Media Council (BLM) to award a popular Munich FM frequency to the Catholic broadcaster Radio Horeb.

Previously, Radio Horeb -- which gets its name from the Old Testament word for Mount Sinai -- could only be heard via satellite and regional cable networks. But starting soon, the station will be preaching its message to Munich on 92.4 FM.

According to the station's Website, "Radio Horeb brings the Word of God where it belongs: in the houses, on the streets, to the people."

Several times each day, listeners will be able to say the rosary along with Radio Horeb. Other prayers -- some lasting as long as 45 minutes -- are broadcast at different times during the day.

Then there are the listener participation programs, where different topics are discussed, and listeners are invited to phone in with their comments. These are the programs that have given rise to the most controversy.

"What Radio Horeb broadcasts is theology from the 19th century," said Mucha, who is no stranger to religious radio. For decades, he has produced radio reports for Bavaria's public broadcaster. But for him, Radio Horeb goes too far, and represents fundamentalist views. "Last week, there was a program about abortion and one about euthanasia. Both topics were linked as a matter of fact to the Third Reich," he said.

Political influence

Mucha also criticized the BLM, accusing them of being swayed by political pressure. According to reports in Munich newspapers, members of the media council received phone calls from state government offices asking them to vote in favor of the station's application.

It's no secret that Bavaria's state minister in charge of media and cultural affairs, Erwin Huber, is a devout Catholic and major supporter of Radio Horeb's bid to claim the FM frequency. "Why should a religiously oriented, Catholic broadcaster be denied a place in Christian Bavaria?" Huber asked before the decision was announced.

Anke Geiger, who heads the radio committee at the BLM, isn't commenting on the decision. But she did let it be known that she voted against Radio Horeb's application because she disagrees with the way the station represents women. She also said there were indications of racial discrimination.

Platform for racism?

The BLM listened in to Radio Horeb over a two-day period to get an impression of its content. In the resulting report, listeners are said to have made racist comments without being interrupted or reprimanded by the show's host. One listener called up asking for God's help "before we, the white race have to abdicate and the colored people take over." Another caller berated "Gypsies, for whom theft is a sport." Yet another caller complained on air about homosexuals, and said children are wrongly taught at school that homosexuality is normal.

Radio Horeb's manager, Father Richard Kocher, rejects the criticism of the station. He said it is unfair to accuse the station of having fundamentalist, misogynist or racist tendencies, and that it can't be blamed because a few listeners call in and talk "nonsense."

As for the Catholic Church, it's staying out of the controversy, as it has no formal affiliation with Radio Horeb.

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