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December 1999

Changing the station

The “Blue Danube” is more than a famous river of song, it is also the name of a popular public radio station in Austria. For the last 20 years, Blue Danube Radio has been bringing English-language programs to Austria and southern Germany via cable or antenna — 90.25 FM or 104.6 FM, respectively. Daily, from 6:00 to 19:00, the station broadcasts a morning show, feature presentations and evening news, interspersed with jazz and the best adult contemporary of the ’70s to ’90s. After 19:00, the airwaves of BDR are home to German- language, youth-oriented station FM 4 — a hit with GenXers. Those who have enjoyed this winning recipe until now be warned: soon significant changes will be made to Danube’s format. Parent broadcaster ORF Österreichische Rundfunk, government-owned operator of all public radio and television in Austria, has its eye on cash. As the evening teen/twenties show appeals to a commercially attractive audience for advertisers, Blue Danube Radio will soon make a complete transition 24 hours) to the FM 4 format — in English by day and auf Deutsch by night. Envious private radio stations, meanwhile, strongly object to the restructuring of BDR, accusing ORF of ruthless competition. If ORF has its way, techno beats will be making waves on Blue Danube by January 2000. <<< Sst

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