06.12.2021 – 12:45
Duisburg, Cologne, Moscow, East Berlin, Washington, New York: In a new WDR podcast, Fritz Pleitgen recalls the most important stations and events in his life, interviewed by Jochen Rausch, program director of 1LIVE, WDR 2 and WDR 4. The seven episodes of “Fritz Pleitgen – His Life”, each 40 to 45 minutes, will be available from December 8, 2021 in the ARD Audiothek.
At the meetings for the podcast production in autumn 2021, Rausch and Pleitgen each went through one station: from the beginning as a war child in the Revier to his last office as President of the German Cancer Aid, which he, himself suffering from pancreatic cancer in 2020, held until 2021 . When telling the story, Fritz Pleitgen does not lose himself in nostalgia, but always relates events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall to the present. Analytical and without kitsch. Pleitgens’ summary: “I have no reason to quarrel with my life. I was very lucky. “
Fritz Pleitgen recalls that no one was hired at WDR again with a certificate like the one he had: “It is unique that such a person later also became the boss of the company”. At 83, his voice is a little more fragile than before, but the sound is still typical Pleitgen – as generations have known it from television. For ARD he reported from Moscow, East Berlin, Washington and New York. Born in Duisburg in 1938, Pleitgen was editor-in-chief, radio director and general manager at WDR. Jochen Rausch was his employee in the 1990s. Rausch: “I was in contact with him this summer because he presented his new book to Jörg Thadeusz on WDR 2 and asked him whether he would like to tell his life story”. Pleitgen agreed directly and took stock – as a journalist, as a media manager, as a family man. With wisdom, humor and also with self-criticism.
The podcast “Fritz Pleitgen – His Life” was created in the WDR culture laboratory, the editorial team is Wolfram Kähler.
Registered journalists can access the seven episodes in advance in the WDR press lounge: www.presse.wdr.de
Photos can be found at www.ard-foto.de
The podcast episodes at a glance
Episode 1: A beginning in nothing
In the first episode, Fritz Pleitgen talks about his childhood during the war in the Revier, gloomy days in the children’s home, the escape from the Red Army, and happiness in misfortune. And how the youngest of five children in East Westphalia came to journalism through football and learned from a district judge to ask the right questions, why Ernest Hemingway inspired him and why a bike tour to Norway was more important to him than the Abitur.
Episode 2: The call to Cologne
In this episode, Fritz Pleitgen remembers a phone call from Cologne that fundamentally changed his life. From the province to the Tagesschau. He explains why he was drawn to a young woman named Gerda as a journalist and personally attracted by catastrophes, why he was impressed by Willy Brand and Konrad Adenauer and why he feels more comfortable on the left than on the right.
Episode 3: In the Cold War
The third episode goes to Russia, Pleitgen’s first foreign station for ARD. With the still young children in cold Moscow, in the cold war. A television reporter – sometimes without a camera – but always with courage and chutzpah. It’s about an encounter with Leonid Brezhnev, which made everything a little easier, and about encounters with the Russian soul that accompanied Pleitgen for a lifetime.
Episode 4: Behind the Wall
Pleitgen’s second “foreign station” took him with his wife and now four children from Moscow to East Berlin. He tells of life and work in a Prussian-influenced surveillance state, in which interviews could be dangerous for interviewees, where freedom of the press was a foreign concept and why it was a big mistake of the GDR regime to let western correspondents into the country.
Episode 5: The American Dream
From the petty-bourgeois surveillance state to the heart of the superpower USA, to Washington. After the gloomy GDR years, the Pleitgen family revived and enjoyed American freedom to the full. The reporter Fritz Pleitgen has long been a popular face on the First German Television, an outstanding reporter in every respect, to whom Brezhnev and Nixon also looked up.
Episode 6: On the ladder at the top
His return to Cologne led Fritz Pleitgen to the top of the WDR: Editor-in-Chief, Radio Director, Artistic Director. The reporter became a manager, developed visions, invented radio stations and led WDR into the “beautiful new digital media world”. A life full of work that was often at the expense of the family.
Episode 7: Back to the roots
In the last episode, Fritz Pleitgen talks about going on, how the artistic director became a cultural manager for “his” Ruhr area and later the cultural manager became the president of the German Cancer Aid. Seriously ill, Pleitgen takes stock: as a journalist, as a media manager, as a family man. And he wouldn’t be Fritz Pleitgen if he didn’t look at his life with wisdom, humor and even self-criticism.
Tel.: 0221 220 7100
Email: [email protected]
Original content from: ARD Audiothek, transmitted by news aktuell