Text and images from Gebrauchsgraphik, 3, 1966
Cosmopolitan and provincial (and as the absolute negative « superlative darkest province») have always been popular terms in Berlin expressing the merits and demerits of works of art and cultural events. While experts may disagree as to whether a certain work of art truly deserves to be classed as excellent, there can be no doubt that apart from some few exceptions the publicity for cultural events does present a very dark and provincial aspect. For the last four years (1962-1966) the posters and programs of Radio Free Berlin must be counted among those happy exceptions. For Walter Steigner, the director of this Radio Station, tired of the low standards and poor quality of the visual publicity media decided to lend them a truly unmistakable appearance. Ever since, the advertising publications of Radio Free Berlin have formed a striking contrast with the unimaginativeness of the commercial posters and the monotony of the usual cultural announcements.
The program of this station offers a rich variety of broadcasts ranging from musical experiment to light music. The many interests of a very heterogeneous audience have only one thing in common, namely the cultural and technical facilities of their station. In view of this situation it was a good idea to concentrate on a very objective method of visualisation which was sure to be understood by everyone and which stimulated the reader’s imagination instead of stunting it. The director and his artistic advisor Dieter Skorupa decided to enlist Hans Förtsch, his wife Sigrid von Baumgarten and Reinhart Braun who had already distinguished themselves in their work for other public and private institutions and had won several awards for the « best German posters. › The necessity to deal successfully with diverging subjects, to find the right approach for the right audience and to avoid all conventional clichés has kept the posters and programs of this team fresh and dynamic. In this way Radio Free Berlin has acquired a very attractive image as can be seen from the great success of its public events. But also the printed Radio Programs, whose make-up and instructive content are still unique in Berlin, may be regarded as pioneer achievements in field whose educational importance is mostly underrated.