The End of the Traffic Report
Standstill in Lederhosen

Lederhose, a view of the village Photo: © CC-BY 4.0

Now that Deutschlandfunk has taken its iconic Staumeldungen (traffic reports) off the air, some obscure places with marvelous names like Wandersleben (“Roaming Life”), Hannoversch Münden-Hedemünden, Herzsprung (“Leap of the Heart”), and Lederhose (“Leather Pants”) have also disappeared from the media — if not the map — of Germany. This is an homage.

Verena Hütter

Germany operates under a federal system. This means each of the 16 states makes individual decisions on many matters. Schoolchildren in Germany have different vacation periods, depending on which state they’re in. And there are several different regional public broadcasters, including Bayerischer Rundfunk in Bavaria, Westdeutscher Rundfunk in the West, and Norddeutscher Rundfunk up North.

But there’s a national broadcaster too: Deutschlandfunk, which grew from RIAS (Rundfunk im amerikanischen Sektor), a radio and television station that the U.S. military administration founded in the  American sector of Berlin after World War II because the Soviets refused to give the West any air time on the Berliner Rundfunk radio station belonging to East Germany.

Fun fact: RIAS was initially called DIAS, before Drahtfunk (wired radio) became Rundfunk (wireless radio). So, this Drahtfunk in the American sector gave rise to Deutschlandfunk. And on February 1, 2020, Deutschlandfunk stopped broadcasting its traffic reports — which is relevant because this magazine is dedicated to standstills, and traffic is a crucial topic in this context. Besides, we’ve been in a hell of a jam since February 1, 2020, so you have to wonder whether abolishing the traffic reports might have something to do with that...

Only the Longest Made it on the News

Starting way back in 1964, the traffic reports aired every hour just before the news. Each newsflash was no longer than two minutes. Since Deutschlandfunk had to cover the autobahns nationwide, only the worst gridlocks got any air time. While motorists up in northern Germany may have grinned with schadenfreude at the news of mile-long standstills on the southern highways, the news was of no real value to them, which is why two-thirds of the 5,328 listeners polled by Deutschlandfunk in the summer of 2019 rated the traffic reports as “unimportant” or “not very important.” And then, they were gone.

Off to Lederhose!

Right about now, some people are saying to themselves, “We didn’t miss them.” But they’re forgetting that with the disappearance of the traffic reports, came the disappearance of all the places that never made the news except for on the traffic reports. So, we’d like to name and pay tribute to those obscure locations in Germany, more than a few of which have marvelous names. And to the readers who don’t live in Germany and have never heard of these places, consider opting for a trip to Wandersleben (literally, “Roving Life”), Hannoversch Münden-Hedemünden, or Lederhose (“Leather Pants”) next time you’re traveling around Europe instead of Neuschwanstein, Berlin, or the Oktoberfest.

Yes, there really is a place called Lederhose. It’s in the German state of Thuringia and has a population of 264. And if they’re being honest, many fans of the traffic reports will admit that the reason they enjoyed the hourly updates so much was because of the eager anticipation of waiting to hear whether Lederhose, the funniest highway exit in the world, would be mentioned. German comedian and musician Helge Schneider has dedicated a video to these Staumeldungen, including a special tribute to Lederhose. You can watch it on the Deutschlandfunk website.

And here’s a list of some of the wonderful spots in Germany that have disappeared from the media along with the traffic reports:
Dreieck Ahlhorner Heide
Bad Rappenau
Darmstädter Kreuz
Dettingen an der Iller
Erlangen Frauenaurach
Fürstenwalde Ost
Hamburg Schnelsen-Nord
Hamm-Bockum Werne
Hannoversch Münden-Hedemünden
Dreieck Havelland
Hofoldinger Forst
Kitzingen Schwarzach
Kreuz Meerbusch
Schkeuditzer Kreuz
Uphusen Bremen-Mahndorf
Dreieck Werder
Dreieck Wittstock/Dosse
Wörth an der Donau-Wiesent

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