News & Events

February 2, 2018

Hamburg Chapter of RIAS Berlin Commission Alumni network created

A dozen RIAS Berlin Commission Alumni gathered at a pub in Hamburg on Friday, February 2 to inaugurate the RIAS Hamburg Chapter — an informal “no-strings-attached” group that plans to meet as a sort of “Stammtisch” every few months. The Hamburg alumni chapter is the third regional chapter created following the starts of regional chapters in Cologne and Berlin were organized in recent months.

“It was a great inspirational evening,” said Michail Paweletz, a news presenter for ARD’s Tagesschau who organized the Hamburg Chapter’s first meeting together with Nadine Gries of NDR. The alumni talked not only reminisced about their “life-changing” experiences as RIAS Berlin Commission fellows on their trips to learn more about media, politics and culture in the United

 States over the last 15 years. They also talked about how they could keep the spirit of RIAS alive with regular meetings in Hamburg or with other chapters in Berlin, Cologne and possibly in the United States when chapters are formed there hopefully soon. The alumni were also encouraged to work take up the RIAS Berlin Commission offer for support for individual story-research reporting trips to the United States.

The RIAS Berlin Commission offers alumni with compelling story ideas 1,000 euro stipends to help cover some of the travel costs associated with researching stories in the United States. The offer of $1,000 stipends to help U.S. fellows cover some of the travel costs associated with researching stories in Germany.


RIAS Berlin Commission Executive Director Erik Kirschbaum said he hoped the new Hamburg chapter would be able to build networks with the Berlin and Cologne chapters as well as build bridges to U.S. alumni and chapters in the United States as well.  “With more than 1,500 alumni in the U.S. and Germany from the RIAS  programs over the last 25 years, there is so much potential for networks, transatlantic cooperation on stories and friendships,” he said.

All RIAS Berlin Commission alumni are invited to attend the RIAS Medienpreis awards ceremony on May 17 at the RIAS Funkhaus building in Berlin as well as a special alumni reunion meeting in Berlin on May 18.

Among those who attended the Hamburg alumni meeting were Michail Paweletz (ARD), Nadine Gries (NDR), Regine Münder (ARD), Birgit Hahn (Radio Hamburg), Charlotte Voss (NDR), Stefan Keilmann (ARD), Patrick Döcke (ARD), Sonja Keilmann (ARD) and Jennifer Lange (NDR).

January 17, 2018

New summer exchange program for U.S. university students

U.S. university students are invited to apply for a three-week intensive study program on journalism in Germany. Funded largely by a grant from the German government and organized by the RIAS Berlin Commission, up to 14 outstanding journalism or international studies students will be invited to take part in the three-week program in Germany to learn more about journalism in Germany, the role that broadcasters like the Berlin-based RIAS played during the Cold War and the current political landscape of Germany.

Beginning in 2018, the RIAS Berlin Commission will be offering exceptional students of journalism, international affairs and related disciplines the opportunity to participate in this three-week educational program in Berlin. Funded by the Transatlantic Program of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany, the program will give 14 participants valuable insights into transatlantic, German and European affairs. Students from across the US are encouraged to apply.

Over a three week period in Berlin, with excursions to other Germany cities, participants will meet with leading political analysts, journalists, think tank representatives and other experts. They will visit German government institutions, historical sites, and universities, enabling them to and deepen their knowledge of central issues in transatlantic affairs and gain a more personal understanding of German politics, media and history.

Program applicants must be undergraduate or graduate students of journalism, international affairs, political science, history, German or closely related disciplines at universities and colleges in the United States. They should be starting at least the third year of their undergraduate studies at the time of the program and preferably have some experience in journalism – for example at a campus radio or TV station or newspaper. An interest in and knowledge of German or European affairs is desirable; knowledge of German is preferred but not required. Students who have already gained some professional or volunteer experience in their field are strongly encouraged to apply.

Attached is the application form as PDF with further information.


January 11, 2018

Berlin Alumni Chapter’s inaugural meeting

Twenty RIAS Berlin Commission alumni came together on January 11 for the inaugural meeting of a Berlin alumni chapter at a restaurant in Berlin. Organized by 2017 fellows Anja Goerz and Benedikt Wenck, the Berlin-based RIAS fellows have taken part in the exchange programs since 2000. Not only did the Berlin alumni reminisce about their experiences in the U.S., they also made plans for regular Berlin alumni chapter meetings every other month. Vladimir Balzar and Anja Heyde volunteered to organize the next Berlin alumni meeting in late March.

The Berlin alumni chapter was the second informal alumni group created after RIAS alumni in Cologne set up the first chapter in November. Other chapters are being set up or in planning in Hamburg, New York and Washington. The Berlin and Cologne chapters are hoping to occasionally invite guest speakers to their meetings.

“The main goals of these alumni chapters are, besides having a good time, to create networks of former RIAS participants in both the U.S. and Germany — and hopefully the various chapters will be able to interact with each other down the road in setting up individual exchanges,” said RIAS Berlin Commission Executive Director Erik Kirschbaum. “They’re for the alumni and by the alumni. These chapters and individual exchanges are whatever those taking part make out of them.”

All 1,500 RIAS Berlin Commission alumni are cordially invited to join or create local chapters — and register themselves into the RIAS Berlin Community on the www.riasberlin.org website, where messages, ideas, suggestions and hosting requests can be exchanged.

Others at the inaugural Berlin alumni chapter meeting included: Dorte Störmann, Marc Krueger, Philipp Eins, Martina Gross, Laura Fritsch, Gabriele von Moltke, Petra Gute, Karl Hinterleitner, Erik Kirschbaum, James Griffin, Ben Fajzullin, Sven Ole Schubert, Giusi Valentini, and Anne Demmer.

Two other RIAS alumni groups have also gathered in recent weeks as well. Five of the nine
participants on a senior editors program to Texas in 2017 were able to revive the spirit of their
weeklong crash course on immigration and border security with an evening of margaritas and spicy jalepeno burgers in Berlin: Vladimir Blazer, Anja Heyde, Petra Gute, Hildegard Boucsein and Erik Kirschbaum.

And seven of the 10 fellows from the March 2017 program to the U.S. met for a weekend reunion in Bad Nauheim north of Frankfurt and visited the house where Elvis Presley lived when he was stationed in Germany. “We just wanted to see each other again because we had such a good time together in the U.S.,” said Kevin Arnold, who organized the alumni meeting. Others attending include Birgit Hahn, Selina Koc, Sarah Zerback, Anja Fröhlich, Arne Orgassa, and Tobias Jobke

January 4, 2018

Call for entries for RIAS Media Prize

RIAS Berlin Kommission – Award Ceremony on June 12, 2017 


The deadline is nearing for the RIAS Berlin Commission Media Prize awards for 2017. The awards are for the best reporting to highlight issues of interest to the U.S. and Germany. Stories of bi-national interest that aired or were published at any time in the calendar year of 2017 are eligible.

Awards are presented for radio, television and online reporting. There is no fee for submitting a story for a RIAS Award. Recent American winners include Bill Whitaker from CBS’s “60 Minutes” for a story comparing prisons in Germany and the United States, Paige Sutherland of New Hampshire Public Radio about Germany’s handling of drug addiction; also Erik Olsen and Melissa Eddy in 2016, for a pair of stories on nytimes.com: Germany’s Coal Addiction and Germany’s Energiewende: Off-shore Wind Push, Tonya Papanikolas in 2013 for her online reports from Germany and Susan Valot in 2012 for her radio work on LA artists living and working in Berlin.


Keynote speech in 2017 by ARD anchor Ingo Zamperoni

The entry deadline is January 31, 2018. To submit, simply send a link to your story to info@riasberlin.org and kirschbaum@riasberlin.org. Scripts and support materials are optional. The RIAS jury will meet in February and winners will be invited to the awards ceremony in Berlin to be held in the spring.



Please review the call for entries on the RIAS Awards page for specific rules and details and visit our German/American exchange program page for more information.

Solicitation 2018 (Call for Entrys) as PDF (EN)

December 4, 2017

“Ask not, what RIAS can do for you – ask what you can do for RIAS”

Dear Friends and Fellows of the RIAS Berlin Commission: To borrow the words of John F. Kennedy at his inauguration, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” I would like to appeal to all of you in the RIAS alumni network to “ask not what RIAS can do for you – ask what you can do for RIAS.”



In our 25th year, the RIAS Berlin Commission has done everything possible to keep the exchange programs between Germany and the United States up and running while trimming administration costs and keeping an unchanged budget in balance. It has not been easy but thanks in part to those of you who made generous donations to RIAS in 2016 we are in solid fiscal shape. As many of you know, perennial low interest rates have taken a heavy toll on our foundation’s investment income in recent years but we are still doing everything we can to put together the best-possible exchange programs in Germany and the United States with limited means.

If you had a good and possibly life-changing experience on an RIAS exchange program, we hope that you might be able to give something back to RIAS and make even a modest tax deductible donation to RIAS Berlin Commission. Last year we received a total of more than 1,000 euros off the bat in year one in tax deductible donations in Germany and $1,000 in the United States from alumni making contributions ranging from $50 or $100 to 300 euros. In this second year of fundraising to expand the exchange programs, my personal hope is that there will be donations from alumni totaling at least 10,000 euros – that amount alone would be enough to add two more spots on the exchange programs in 2018. Because I’ve seen how important the RIAS program can be and what a positive impact it can have on young broadcast journalists, I am planning to donate 1,000 euros this year myself towards that goal of 10,000 euros so hopefully there will be at least 9,000 euros more donated by the end of the 2017 and hope as many of you as possible will join me.

In 2017 we were able to reduce admin costs and used those savings right away to add an extra day to the Washington DC program, starting on Monday instead of Tuesday. Thanks to further savings and donations, we were able to raise the number of participants on many of the trips this past year from just 10 or so in 2016 to 12 to 14 in 2017. A total of 30 Germans spent one to three weeks on fellowships in the United States in 2017 while 26 Americans spent two to three weeks in Germany. With enough donations from you, we will aim to take at least 14 on most of the exchange trips in 2018. A new added feature this year was the introduction of an optional “station week” in Germany for some of the American fellows.

As many of you know, we have also been trying to encourage the creation of Alumni Chapters in both Germany and the United States. The Cologne chapter was created in early November an
d a Berlin chapter is going to be created on January 11. The goal of these alumni chapters is to tap into the enormous potential of our great alumni network of more than 1,500 alumni from the last 25 years and ideally foster private and individual exchanges between both German and American fellows. Please do register yourself on our revamped www.riasberlin.org website in the community section http://riasberlin.org/community/ The cost-cutting measures
are helping considerably. But we also need to diversify our funding base to cushion RIAS from the impact of such low interest income. We would greatly appreciate your tax-deductible charitable donation. It will help RIAS Berlin Commission continue to reinforce transatlantic understanding.

Here is the RIAS Berlin Commission account for tax-deductible donations in Germany:
RIAS Berlin Commission,
IBAN: DE72 1005 0000 1160 0155 50,
Kennwort: “Spende”

Or you can donate via paypal on www.riasberlin.org

Here is the link for tax-deductible donations in the United States: https://www.rtdna.org/content/rias_german_american_exchange_program

Thanks for your support and please stay actively involved with the RIAS Berlin Commission.

Erik Kirschbaum
Executive Director

November 10, 2017

Cologne alumni chapter created to network and keep RIAS spirit alive

A dozen RIAS alumni from Cologne and Bonn created the first-ever RIAS alumni chapter on Wednesday, November 8. The alumni group hopes to hold occasional meetings to network and talk about transatlantic issues with riveting guest speakers. The alumni chapter in Cologne, Germany’s fourth largest city and one of its most important broadcast media capitals as the home to RTL, NTV, and the WDR networks as well as Deutschlandfunk, is also hoping to connect for possible exchanges. with new chapters to be set up in other hotspots in Germany and the United States.

As RIAS executive director Erik Kirschbaum told the first alumni chapter, RIAS is eager to promote the exchange of alumni across the Atlantic in the hopes of helping to produce stories in both countries. Some financial support for transatlantic travel is available for alumni working on projects for their broadcasters.

“I think it’s a great idea because I’ve always wondered why we can’t better use this network,” said Andrea Lueg, who organised the inaugural Cologne chapter meeting. “All it took was a quick email to all the RIAS alumni in the Cologne area and the resonance was tremendous. Twelve alumni came to our first meeting and many others wrote that they couldn’t make it but thought it was a great idea and want to take part in the future.”

Lueg said that all RIAS alumni in the Cologne area and northwestern Germany are welcome to join the chapter and that they are hoping to connect with RIAS fellows and chapters in the United States.

Vivienne Radermacher , Michael Stang, Torsten Beermann, Stefan Römermann, Carsten Schröder, Monika Dittrich, Yvonne Müther, Arnd Riekmann, Anna Schubert, Andrea Tönnißen, Marika Dresselhaus, and Andrea Lueg