How did hello become hello

Sound of the century

Hans-Ulrich Wagner

Hans-Ulrich Wagner, Dr., media scientist, head of the Media History Research Center at the Hans Bredow Institute for Media Research.

History of radio signals

Radio hits, pause signs, hymns and jingles - the world of radio signals is extremely diverse. Countless acoustic identifiers are intended to draw the audience's attention to their own station and program and to inform listeners which station they have just switched on. These ringing and resounding business cards are inextricably linked with the history of broadcasting. They fulfilled important broadcast and reception tasks and were the subject of radio-political debates and not always peaceful competition in the ether. Due to their constant commitment, their easy recognizability and their catchiness, they still take on an identity-creating role. Many of the radio signals entered the cultural acoustic memory and are still a popular object for radio nostalgic memories to this day.

Advertising for the radio

1928: Couple listening to the radio (& copy picture-alliance, akg-images)
"Hello, hello! Here radio! / That makes people happy. / From morning to night my young heart burns brightly / In sorrow and pain my young heart for the radio. / Hello, hello! The microphone / Even the smallest kid already knows. / White everyone, I'm there / If something happened / And shout out loud: Hurray! " These lines, which are so emphatically heard, form the prelude to the so-called Norag March. Sung by the Hamburg studio ensemble around audience favorites such as Bernhard Jakschtat, Isa Roland and Erwin Bolt, the commercial record quickly became an extremely popular hit in the second half of the 1920s. The Norag March formulated a clear advertising message for the young radio medium and, with a potpourri of sung lines of songs, knew how to combine an extensive promise of entertainment, joy and sociability specifically with the name of the station - Norag, the Nordic Broadcasting Corporation. The refrain says: "Here is the Norag with the detector, here is the Norag for him and Hektor. Here is the Norag for anyone who can still pay two marks a month. Here is the Norag for clever skulls, here is the one Norag for the little girl. Here's Norag for you, my child, when we are both at home all alone. "

This radiophonic advertising message was written for the station Horst Platen (1884 - 1964), which was launched in northern Germany in 1924; from 1926 he was first Kapellmeister and soon after that he was Norag's house composer. The acoustic message was part of the wide range of activities coordinated by the in-house advertising department. In the annual business reports, among other things, there is talk of advertising vehicles that were sent to the cities and the countryside to hold events there, as well as appearances at trade fairs, in schools and at sports clubs, as well as the "radio advertising days", which are called " Folk festivals "were designed. The Norag March will not have been missing.

With such professional PR and with, beyond the advertising in the program, audience-effective off-air promotion, radio presented itself as extremely modern and attractive when it was launched. According to the advertising message, it should be chic and "in" to listen to the radio.

Gallery: Advertising for the radio

The relationship-promoting effect of the Norag March was not alone then. Again and again the attraction exerted by the new medium was evoked, for example when it says in another radio hit sung by Max Kuttner from 1925: "Some maid / when bedtime / gets into bed ready to receive / and she enjoys with her ear / Your favorite tenor / Horizontal ideal. / The beautiful Adrienne / Tschintatata-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-radio / Has a high antenna. " Corresponding photos were shown in radio magazines and in advertisements for the radio industry, emphasizing the pleasure of entertainment broadcasting and highlighting the sensual relationship with the new apparatus.

Gallery: The Norag

Pause sign

Due to the transmission and reception technology, the broadcasters back then liked to speak out with "Hello, hello!" Shouts demanding attention. Or they turned to their audience really demanding, for example in October 1923, when the radio hour Berlin went on the air: "Attention! Attention! This is the broadcasting station Berlin!" Such station announcements were often linked to the frequency on which the program was to be received. Because it was still sometimes difficult for the owners of small and inefficient devices to tune into a transmitter and achieve good reception.

The station announcements were the signal that the program was beginning. In the first few years, however, it did not fill the entire day. Only gradually did the broadcasting times of the individual broadcasting companies expand. In the early evening hours there were a few hours in the afternoon and a few hours in the morning. There was a break in broadcast between these so-called program islands. But even during these pauses one wanted to be acoustically present in the ether so that the frequency once found could be identified. The pause sign was invented for this.

Initially, the individual broadcasters still used very simple means. Particularly popular were characteristic Morse code like "h - a" from January 1925 for Hamburg and from 1926 "m - ü" (Munich) and "n - g" (Nuremberg) for the two stations of the German hour in Bavaria. The Mitteldeutsche Rundfunk AG (Mirag) had already taken a different route in November 1924. She recorded the ticking of an alarm clock with a telephone microphone, bridging the radio silence. This found imitators in Breslau and Berlin. The ticking of their alarm clock, however, was slower and less hectic than that of the Leipzig break alarm clock, which had a beat rate of 240 ticks per minute.

The technicians of the broadcasting companies also experimented with metronomes, chimes and cuckoo clocks. In addition, they developed increasingly complex devices to mechanically generate and transmit characteristic pause tones. Such technical achievements were especially celebrated after the National Socialists came to power in 1933. The radio press repeatedly gave an overview of the now many different break signs and proudly reported about new break equipment, such as B. the Radio show in the early summer of 1933: "The new pause signal of the German transmitter is generated by a roller with appropriately inserted pins striking metal tongues that vibrate at different pitches. These tongues are located in front of the coil of a small magnet and thus induce alternating currents in this coil that precisely correspond to the tones to which they are tuned. After appropriate amplification, these alternating currents are passed on to the transmitter. You can clearly see on the cylinder, if you go from left to right, in the arrangement of the pen, the melody, above the accompanying voice. " Even the break on the radio had to be resounding.

Radio signals

Boy on the wireless. Around 1930 (& copy picture-alliance, IMAGNO)
Pause marks are probably the best-known acoustic markings in broadcasting history. But there is an abundance of musical and acoustic symbols and signs with a representational function. In 1989, Ludwig Stoffels from the German Broadcasting Archive summarized these under the heading of broadcast signals. For a catalog that is several hundred Broadcast signals by country Listed, he defined in the introduction: "Broadcast signals in a broad sense can be understood as the entirety of the pause signs, signets and other identifying marks broadcast by the radio. They serve to identify a broadcasting company, a transmitter or studio, a program, a program segment, a series of programs, etc. . "

In the history of broadcasting, anthems in general and the national anthems in particular played a major role. They connected with the acoustic performance of the broadcasters. A special example are the "Olympic hymns", which can give the radio coverage of major sporting events a leitmotif. The fanfare blasts that were part of the Nazi radio reporting on the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936 are very well known. Another example is the song I have surrendered with my heart and with my hand, which formulates a national commitment and comes from the tradition of the fraternity songs of the 19th century. After the end of the war it was sung in the western zones until the Basic Law was adopted in 1949 as a replacement for the missing national anthem. The Nordwestdeutsche Rundfunk (NWDR) played it at the end of each broadcast day around midnight.

By deciding on an anthem, a broadcaster expresses an explicit political claim. From May 1945, for example, the one composed by Pierre Degeyter in 1888 formed International, the battle song of the socialist labor movement, the radio signal of the East German Berlin radio. When the GDR was founded in 1949, several programs on the Berlin broadcaster chose the national anthem Rising from the Ruins as their distinguishing mark. After all, it was an inseparable part of Radio DDR as well as of Germany's broadcaster, which was renamed "Voice of the GDR" in November 1971.

The radio signals that the National Socialists made their stations and programs broadcast during the "Third Reich" also manifest a political claim. Always practice faithfulness and honesty might appeal to bourgeois virtues as a folk song - the German shortwave transmitter and the Deutschlandsender used a short melody sequence from it since 1933. With the beginning of the sailors' choir Helmsman, leave the watch From May 1933, the Hamburg broadcaster began using the Wagnerian operatic sounds so valued by the National Socialist leadership. The Reichsender Frankfurt left the fanfare of the anti-French war song from January 1935 To the Rhine, to the Rhine, to the German Rhine blow. For other Reich broadcasters that is Germany song detected as a radio signal.

Morse code for "V" like "Victory" (& copy bpb)
One of the most distinctive radio signals in German broadcasting history comes from Great Britain. The started shortly after the start of the Second World War European service the BBC his very successful "V-Campaign". The "V" for victory was conspiratorially painted on walls in the countries occupied by Germany and Allied aircraft dropped flyers with the "Victory" sign over the enemy territory. However, the acoustic "V", the Morse code "short, short, short, long" of des was decisive German service the BBC. He placed this signet - repeated three times each time, played on a drum - in front of his reports from June 28, 1941 to May 8, 1945. The tone sequence was also the beginning of Beethoven's 5th Symphony. How much the "V" radio signal is anchored in cultural memory is shown by its frequent use in film, television and radio documentaries. History journalists can build on his reputation.

New start in the post-war period

After the experiences of the "Third Reich", a new political beginning was set on the radio. The broadcasters in the Soviet zone of occupation, which were soon placed under direct state control, announced their political claims on the airwaves. But also in the West they were programmatic. The beginning of the boys' choir Soon it will be emblazoned to announce the morning from Mozart Magic Flute became the acoustic transmitter signal of the newly founded Südwestfunk (SWF) in the French zone. The tone sequence underlined the educational cultural-political goals that were pursued in the program from March 1946.

The signal from Radio Munich and, from 1949, the Bavarian Radio, on the other hand, emphasized the regional identity. The first line of Munich's city anthem As long as old Peter was heard from 1948 to 1951 shortened by one syllable. "As long as old Pe ..." was the signal. From October 1951, when the tower of the Peterskirche in Munich and its carillon were restored, the signet sounded again together with the missing syllable "-ter". This sender identification was used until the end of 1996.

Radio Frankfurt and from 1949 the Hessischer Rundfunk initially used a triad of tones f, d and a; in November 1946 a horn motif from the opera was chosen The royal children, which Engelbert Humperdinck had composed in Frankfurt in 1895/97. However, the new transmitter signet, which the Frankfurt transmitter acquired in the mid-1950s, was supposed to be characteristic. Program director Henning Wicht wanted to distinguish himself from the melodious sound sequences of the other ARD stations and announced a competition in the field of electronic music. The composer Hermann Heiss (1897 - 1966) submitted 17 sound models that he had put together in electronic music studios in Cologne and Frankfurt, and won the tender. One of these first aired on May 1, 1955. From then on, this electronic pause sign shaped the Hessischer Rundfunk and gave it an extraordinarily modern image.

The identification marks of the ARD broadcasters were often present. They ensured the recognizability of the radio programs during transmission and switching pauses. Their high recognition effect was increased by their use as acoustic signets on television. If you switched on the first program, which is jointly hosted by the various broadcasters, the logo of the respective responsible institution appeared on the screen at the beginning of a program contribution, accompanied by its resounding signet. The acoustic identifiers of the broadcasting corporations in the broadcasting network of the ARD were thus present in all of (West) Germany beyond the individual federal states and represented a unique calling card and a program promise.

How much such symbolic condensation was charged in terms of radio and cultural politics can be illustrated by two examples. The first shows the potential for conflict a pause sign can have. From 1945 to 1955 the Funkhaus Köln belonged to the NWDR. The large broadcasting structure for the federal states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg was experienced on the Rhine and Ruhr as a paternalistic and coercive community. The acoustic identification mark for all broadcasting houses of the radio set up by the British occupying power for their zone were initially two bars from Mozart's opera The Magic Flutewho have favourited grades of That sounds great from the Papageno aria.

A press release dated July 6, 1948 was understood as an affront, in which it said: "The new pause sign of the Northwest German Broadcasting Corporation, to which a topic from the Symphony No. 4 by Johannes Brahms will be heard for the first time on July 15th. The intention is to clearly mark the individual broadcasting stations of the NWDR by playing the same pause symbol on different instruments. In Hamburg it is broadcast by two oboes, in Cologne by two horns, in Berlin by two clarinets and in Hanover by two trumpets. "A motif by the Hamburg composer Johannes Brahms, just orchestrated differently for the Funkhaus in Cologne - appeared in some newspapers Angry readers' letters, in the west of the NWDR broadcast area, this snub by the Hamburg headquarters exacerbated the existing resentment.

There followed a few years of severe radio-political struggles until 1955, the dissolution of the NWDR and the establishment of the two independent broadcasters NDR and WDR were decided. On January 1, 1956, the two new stations started their programs. The acoustic demonstrations with the new pause signs were proud and self-confident: The NDR now broadcast a motif from Johannes Brahms' 2nd symphony as a pause sign; the WDR decided on the federal song In all good hours by the Bonn composer Ludwig van Beethoven.

Radio receiver Blaupunkt-Stockholm (1963) License: cc by-nc-nd / 3.0 / de / (Wikimedia, Oguenther)

The second example is the pause sign of the Saarländischer Rundfunk (SR), which was introduced in March 1956 after the population of the Saarland had voted in a referendum in favor of a connection to the Federal Republic a few months earlier. With the traditional miner's song Lucky on, the Steiger is coming The SR resident composer Heinrich Konietzny (1910-1983) linked the cultural identity of the industrial and mining region. He used a melody sequence that is inseparable when listening to the text line "And he has his bright light at night (already lit, already lit)", from which the symbolism of the sound sequence becomes clear.

But the pause sign, which was used by the SR until the mid-1990s, also had a Nazi story. From 1920 and especially before the vote in 1935, the battle song was on the melody of the Steigerlied The Saar is German was sung and the sequence of the pause sign included the line of text "And forever German my homeland (my homeland, my homeland)". For many SR listeners, both text meanings will have resonated.Probably those responsible for broadcasting in Saarland at that time consciously accepted the symbolic ambiguity of homeland on the one hand and belonging to Germany on the other.

Jingles in the radio market

These acoustic transmitter IDs were used in Germany until the 1980s. With the introduction of the dual system, i.e. the coexistence of private commercial broadcasters and public broadcasters, at the beginning of the 1980s, the radio landscape changed fundamentally. There were no longer any breaks in broadcasting. The number of programs increased, the struggle for attention grew. There are currently 256 radio programs on the private radio market in Germany via antenna, satellite and cable, plus 54 public radio programs. They are all trying to get the listeners' attention. Anyone who has switched on their phone should be made aware of which station they are listening to. In the increasing competition of the radio market, it is a matter of recognizability and identifiability, of creating a program brand that allows emotional ties and is remembered when asked.

A development that had a long, sometimes very long tradition in other broadcasting systems around the world, especially in the US market, could be seen in Germany in the 1980s and 1990s: the formatting of radio programs, individual programs and entire stations , d. In other words, everything was planned very strategically to ensure transparency and to avoid irritating moments for the listener. In this context, the term jingles appears as a musical identifier, as a special attention-grabber.

The Compact lexicon media von Insa Sjurts defines jingle as the "identification melody of a radio station or a radio program element" and explains: "Jingles are pre-produced and contain the station identifier (name of the station and / or acoustic logo), the jingle often also indicates the content of the program. " The Handbook for training and practice in radio von Walther von LaRoche and Axel Buchholz explains: "Without jingles there is no modern accompanying program. Jingles combine and separate program components, announce a program, say the station, sometimes the frequency, the name of the program and the name of its designer. The jingle is short, usually six seconds is the upper limit. " The authors explain to the budding radio journalists: topic jingles announce topics, bridge jingles connect them, separating jingles separate one from the other.

The colorful abundance of catchy and sometimes annoying jingles is part of advertising communication. Radio jingles are commissioned by the broadcasters and examined for their success in empirical impact studies. At the same time, a radio industry is specializing which designs jingles in many variations and combinations in order to achieve branding and to optimize the so-called audio branding; the transmitters should therefore receive the most unmistakable sound possible.

Much is at stake, namely assertion on a market that is explicitly economic or implicitly striving for legitimacy. If a randomly selected group of citizens who are generally considered to be representative is interviewed by telephone twice a year in the media analysis, the people called should be able to remember which stations they listened to yesterday and which in the last 14 days. All parameters such as "listeners yesterday", "broadest audience", "listening time" or "market share" that are determined are commercially usable values. So the small acoustic elements play an important role. They are part of an "economy of advertising culture", as Claudia Schmölders in her radio essay jingle, trailer, blurb. Formulated on the career of a text type for the SWR 2006. This sometimes shrill, at least very present jingle environment - depending on the placement and layout of the jingles, it includes claims, bumpers or openers, closers or stingers, backtimers, donuts, promos and drop-ins - is now part of everyday life for radio makers and - listener.


The new pause sign of the NWDR, in: The announcement. Announcements of the Northwest German Broadcasting Corporation, July 6th, 1948, p. 1

Axel Buchholz: Ambiguous: The traditional SR pause sign, 1.2.2012,

Klaus Goldhammer: Format radio in Germany. Concepts, techniques and backgrounds of the programming of radio stations, Berlin 1995

Hymns and radio signals, compiled and edited by Anke Bingmann and others, Frankfurt a. M. 1989

Horst Kickhefel: Ten years of the electronic pause sign. The business card of the Hessischer Rundfunk, HR, 2.5.1965

Helmut Kirchmeyer: conflict material "pause sign". A chapter of Hamburg-Cologne radio history from the point of view of Herbert Eimer, in: Archive for Musicology 67 (2010) 1, pp. 52 - 76

Norbert Linke: Radio Lexicon. 1200 keywords from a capella jingle to intermediate band, Munich 1997

Hagen Pfau: Mirag's business cards: The pause sign and the first sound recordings, in: ders .: Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk. Radio-Geschichte (n), Altenburg 2000, pp. 147 - 154

Claudia Schmölders: jingle, trailer, blurb. On the career of a text type, SWR 2, July 10, 2006,

Michael Schneider / Wilbert Hirsch: Brand Aesthetics & Acoustic Branding, in: Alex Buck et al. (Ed.): Brand aesthetics 2000. The leading corporate design strategies, Frankfurt a. M. 2000, pp. 36 - 51