The first time I heard about The German Radio in San Francisco was about a year ago. The radio station was looking for German immigrant stories, and my Californian Facebook-friend Karen told them about me. The connection was made, and a few days later I had radio host Pamela Lenz Sommer on the phone. As I am also a journalist, I finally need to tell her radio story, too …
My Facebook-friend Pamela Lenz Sommer was on the radio for her first time way back in Germany when she was still a child. The radio station Hamburg Welle and its editor Gerd Kuka had taken a liking to her wit and her way of “chatting from the sewing box”, as Germans put it when they are talking about private experiences. So, after Pamela had met and married her American husband and ended up in California, in the San Francisco area, it came natural to her to make something of her early love, the radio, and her in-depth knowledge of the German culture.
“The German Radio was founded by me in 2018 as a platform for music and stories from people in Germany as well as the USA”, says Pamela. “It is my hope to build a connection between the two cultures and help create a more compassionate world. I believe stories help us connect and remember who we are and where we come from.” Pamela has the daily radio show, “Remember Germany”, starting at 7 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (PST) and ending at midnight. Here, she has German immigrants like me share their stories, accompanied by music that ties to the individual immigration story. “By far my favorite part of production is working with my interview partners during our recording sessions”, says Pamela, who after all is the owner and producer of the radio station and therefore a Jane of all trades in that field.
But you are mistaken if you think of a fancy studio for Pamela. When I asked her to come out of the closet about her radio station, she admitted that this was literally it – a closet! “I have spent a lot of time and money, trying to figure out the best way to improve the audio quality of my productions”, says Pamela. “Since I have humble resources, I had to be creative. A closet is full of soft surfaces, since you are surrounded by clothes. It’s a great place to kill most of those troublesome bouncing sound waves. I call it my “theater in the dark”. By the way, Pamela is not alone in celebrating her closet as an ideal place to broadcast from. Only the other day, I heard guests of a radio talk show tell just about this acoustic phenomenon – they were sitting in their closets, too!
Meanwhile, Pamela has been joined by a team of seven other radio hosts who work remotely from Germany. They all see to it that the internet radio station The German Radio is broadcasting 24/7 on all kinds of topics – a fun potpourri that holds something for every listener. Which might also be interesting for businesses who’d like to reach a broader basis than “just” their local customers. The German Radio reaches more than 400,000 streams monthly. “Most listeners are in the USA and Canada but we also have a growing audience in Germany, Austria, and the United Kingdom”, says Pamela.
I’m pretty sure this radio station will have even gained quite a few more listeners soon. For the it participates in the Webtoberfest (webtoberfest.com/), which started only last Saturday and will last through the end of October. “As media partner of this year’s Webtoberfest, we stream traditional Oktoberfest music and feature special appearances by our DJs”, announces Pamela. One of the much-anticipated live broadcasts will happen on September 29 from noon to 2 p.m. PST, presented by DJ Oliver Andree. Time for shaking out your legs and for singing along in true Oktoberfest fashion!
Of course, there is also a private side to Pamela Lenz Sommer. She loves to cook German food for her family. “Most recipes have been passed down by my mother”, she reminisces. “I still remember standing in her kitchen as a little girl, listening as she talked about different flavors, balancing colors, and the importance of trying new ingredients.”
And what inspires a busy bee like Pamela most when she’s not hatching another radio project? “I get inspired by nature”, she says. “I enjoy long hikes with my family.” Well, if that’s not a typical German thing, too … Well, hop over to The German Radio some time and listen to her voice reaching out from out of a closet to the world.