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WDR Cosmo is to become a media brand.
Schiwa Schlei, Head of 1Live and Cosmo, © WDR/Annika Fußwinkel

Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) is completing its new radio structure. After WDR 3 and WDR 5 had already been merged into a joint programme area in April 2021, the “young radio programmes” 1Live and Cosmo as well as WDR 2 and WDR 4 followed on 1 January 2022. According to the broadcaster, the aim of the changed programme structure is “to make the programmes even more powerful and to use synergies in dealing with comparable tasks”. Now Cosmo, WDR’s “young, European cultural radio”, is expanding its digital activities in cooperation with Radio Bremen and rbb and, according to a statement by the station, is “consistently developing into a media brand”.

In order to respond to the changing usage behaviour of its young audience, the station intends to invest 50% of its resources in the production of digital offerings in addition to its linear radio programming. The “high journalistic quality in the linear as well as digital channels” will continue to be the focus. In terms of content, the programme will be shaped by the topics of diversity and cultural variety, migration and integration as well as global pop and pop culture. The brand core will remain “the change of perspective that enriches social and political debates with perspectives beyond the Eurocentric viewpoint”.

“Our aspiration,” says programme director Schiwa Schlei, “goes far beyond simply extending linear programming into the digital realm. Digital transformation should be more than the search for synergies. That is why we have decided to develop and produce excellent journalistic formats separately for each playout channel – always with a view to the needs of the audience and the requirements of the playout channels.”

As a unique feature, Cosmo relies on a unique range of languages. For this purpose, radio programmes were developed into podcasts individually tailored to the communities in Turkish, Polish, Russian, Arabic, Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian, Italian, Spanish, Greek and Kurdish. With “Hype”, in which German rap and authentic descriptions of the lives of young people with a migration background merge into a gripping story, Cosmo is planning a fictional series for television, the ARD Mediathek and its own digital channels for the first time. The podcast portfolio will also be expanded: In cooperation with Funk, the documentary storytelling format “Deso – the rapper who went to the IS” will be created. With “Schwarz, Rot, Blut” (Black, Red, Blood), a true hate crime podcast is in the works, in which racist acts are dealt with. The podcasts are also broadcast on the radio from Monday to Friday from 7 pm.

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