Campus radio funklust e.V. is broadcasting from a new home

August 17, 2022 | Looking back on 19 years of fruitful cooperation

About 19 years ago, Fraunhofer IIS and the Chair of Information Technology (LIKE) at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) founded a digital campus radio station. It was a research project aimed at testing technical innovations and digital broadcasting systems and working with FAU students on developing innovative, content-related concepts. The campus radio station has long since outgrown its status as a research project, and in 2022, the broadcasting studio moved from Erlangen’s E-Werk cultural center to the “Blue House” on the Europa Canal in Erlangen. On the occasion of this move, we take a look back at 19 years of fruitful collaboration.

Beginnings of the digital radio project

FM broadcasting is widespread in Germany and enjoys an excellent reputation. Nevertheless, digital broadcasting has numerous advantages; for example, it can offer something called “multiplexes,” which allow several programs to be broadcast on one and the same frequency. It offers other features as well, such as Journaline, a kind of teletext for radio that enables auditory accessibility features, or Dynamic Label+, which allows specific tags to be placed in front of text content, e.g. “title” or “artist.”

In light of these advantages, in 2003 Fraunhofer IIS joined with FAU and a small group of students to found a campus radio station called bit eXpress, led by Thomas Bauernschmitt. The objective was to test digital broadcasting methods and innovative formats, which set standards in terms of content. The students took on the editorial work and also some of the technical tasks, while Fraunhofer IIS provided technical expertise and the necessary equipment. During this time, there was another campus magazine called Unimax, which was broadcast on afk max (now max neo) by Mediaschool Bayern. Over the years, Unimax and bit eXpress came to collaborate more and more closely.

For this reason, in 2015 the students proposed uniting both radio programs in a new project. It was decided to make the new endeavor a registered association (e.V.) so that it could negotiate with other parties as a legal entity. The result was funklust e.V., which assumed legal responsibility for the programming while FAU took over operation of the radio studio. Since then, about 30 to 40 students have been volunteering on the project, which has always boasted a distinct educational and training character. Programming runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with web streams ensuring the broadcasts are available around the globe. This also makes it easy to present Fraunhofer technologies such as novel codecs to an international audience.

© Julian Popp
© Julian Popp
© Julian Popp

A change of location with a happy ending

Initially located at Fraunhofer IIS, FAU and the association were soon looking for larger premises – the number of employees was steadily increasing and the campus radio station wanted to move closer to the university. The university itself was the first place to look, but this search was unsuccessful. Then funklust e.V. learned of a vacant floor in the E-Werk cultural center in Erlangen that it could rent. The space was still cramped, but the proximity to the city’s cultural hub proved to be very advantageous. Three years later, however, renovation work began at the E-Werk, and the center needed the upper floor for its own employees. So the radio studio, and thus the association, were homeless again.

Once more, studio manager Thomas Bauernschmitt (FAU), technical manager Julian Popp (IIS) and funklust e.V. went in search of a new place to set up shop. Here’s where the close collaboration with FAU paid off, as Christian Zens, the university chancellor, became aware of their plight. A potential solution was soon found in the form of a university building located on Ulrich-Schalk-Straße, near the Westbad Erlangen city pool. The building was originally intended to house department chairs as part of the professors’ program, but in the meantime they had found a space downtown. This meant the “Blue House” was available, so the radio station and funklust e.V., along with the FAU Multimedia Center, moved into the building. Fraunhofer IIS provided support during the planning phase and helped get things set up – transferring all the equipment from the E-Werk to the Blue House, reestablishing the connection to the transmitters and purchasing new equipment. In close coordination with the university’s IT service provider, RRZE, the system was completely back up and running within three days.

The premises are optimally equipped: storage rooms in the basement, a small workshop, a dedicated server room, a radio studio including broadcast studio, production room, separate spaces for program planning and the managing editor, as well as an office for studio head Thomas Bauernschmitt. FAU’s Multimedia Center is housed on the second floor, and a green screen and speaker’s booth have been added on the third. Both funklust and the Multimedia Center benefit from sharing the space. Now nothing stands in the way of a successful, productive future with many new formats and the testing of new technologies!

Timeline Campus Radio

  • 2003: First live broadcast of DRM campus radio bit eXpress, a joint project of Friedrich-Alexander- Universität Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) and Fraunhofer IIS
  • 2012:  Installation of a dedicated DAB transmitter at Fraunhofer IIS
  • 2013: The station is now also available via FM in Erlangen. Shortly thereafter, it switches to DRM+
  • 2015: bit eXpress joins forces with campus radio Unimax to form funklust e.V.
  • 2019: Move from Fraunhofer IIS to the Erlangen E-Werk
  • 2022: Relocation to the "blue house" in Ulrich-Schalk-Straße in Erlangen

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