One radio station in Germany has found a unique way to make literature appealing again to their listeners. The late-night show, “Klubbing”, is part book-reading, part electro music club-night.
Every Friday night around 10:30 p.m., scores of young people head into what appears to be a deserted office block in central Cologne. It all looks pretty strange to passers-by. But, this is the venue for “Klubbing,” one of the city's most cult nightlife events.
The building belongs to EinsLive, a radio broadcaster based in Cologne aimed at listeners under 30 years of age. Two weary receptionists greet the youngsters at the front desk as they walk in. Round the corner, past gold records and concert promotion posters hanging on the wall, is "the Salon" – a little theatre, with a bar at the back. This has been the venue for “Klubbing” literature nights for 12 years now.
Author in the building
As the radio clock ticks over to 11 p.m., the audience put down their drinks, the music fades away and host Mike Litt, on stage, welcomes the crowd listening on the radio and live in front of him.
Tonight's guest author is Jasmin Ramadan. The 38 year old has been on the show before. She is best known for her first work “Soul Kitchen” which accompanied the popular film of the same name from Fatih Akin.
“I like the whole concept”, says the 38 year old writer. “It's like a book reading in essence, but it allows me to reach a lot more people obviously. And the music they pick always fits pretty well too.”
DJ Larse is responsible for the beats, and after Ramadan reads the first excerpt from her new book, he pushes up the volume. Like Litt, he has been part of "Klubbing" since the very first show.
Tough to get in
The audience members have won their way into the crowd, calling in to the station at specific times during the week. They are the lucky ones - the demand for tickets is always pretty high.
“We knew back then that this would be a great idea because it had never existed before on the radio”, says producer Claudia Cosmo, who has also been working on the show since its inception. “We were convinced that this was a gap in the market that young people needed, to be able to experience books up close.”
Around 300,000 people listen in to "Klubbing" each Friday night, according to the station. With a listenership of that size, it's one of the most popular literature programmes in the country.
“You don't always have to do serious literature, with hour-long readings. You can add to the experience with a chat or with music and present it in a club-like atmosphere. That way it becomes an experience, which includes getting to know the author. And it stays accessible. It isn't “oh, literature, how boring.”
The crowd truly seems captivated by tonight's author as they listen to her describe the motivations for the book. For Annika, a 22 year old medical student from the neighbouring city of Bonn, it's the perfect night out.
“Although it's Friday, I am not really in the mood to go dancing. So, actually, it's perfect. I can relax here, listen to someone read to me and hang out with my friends.”
Markus has been dragged along by his girlfriend, and the book isn't really his thing. “I really enjoyed the whole event. But the book itself, well, it wasn't so exciting that I would go out and buy it.”
It's all about letting the viewers get to know the author up close and personal according to Claudia Cosmo. “With things on the internet, the reader loses contact with the book and the author. In a digital age where everything is so anonymous, a show like this is actually pretty avant garde.”
Author: André Leslie
Editor: Jessie Wingard