About

In cooperation with radio stations and independent producers in the U.S. and Germany, the Goethe-Institut has created the transatlantic podcast THE BIG PONDER. We invite listeners to reflect on abstract ideas and phenomena through hyper-local stories. Each topic will be explored from a transatlantic perspective: do the U.S. and Germany share the same values? What divides us? What unites us? 

In addition to sharing our passion for great storytelling, THE BIG PONDER hopes to further strengthen the transatlantic network of journalists and podcasters through our close collaboration with radio stations and partners on both sides of the pond. We are especially thankful for the support from our friends at the Bertelsmann Foundation, rbbKultur, and the RIAS Berlin Kommission. 

New episodes are released every other week on this website and your favorite podcast apps. For more information, visit How to Listen. We also teamed up with Public Radio Exchange (PRX) to make our episodes available to radio stations for broadcast in the U.S.

Together, the Goethe-Institut and rbbKultur released an eight-part German-language adaptation of THE BIG PONDER. The German edition of the series was created at rbb’s recording studios in Berlin and features the episodes: “Brieffreunde – My Pen Pal,” “Über die Freundschaft – In Friendship,” “Flaggen – Flags,” “Little America,” “The Diner,” “Zuhause – Home,” “Das Tagebuch – The Diary,” and “Über die Stille – Quietude.”

Stay Up to Date

Join the conversation by posting with the hashtag #TheBigPonder. Can’t get enough German-American friendship? Follow the Goethe-Institut Washington on social media:
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Questions?

Do you have questions? Want to tell us about your favorite episode? We’d love to hear from you: Savannah.Beck@goethe.de

Producers

Sylvia Cunningham Photo (detail): © Sylvia Cunningham Sylvia Cunningham

moved to Germany from New York City in 2017 and has been making radio in Berlin ever since. At KCRW Berlin, she made English-language programming for listeners in the German capital.
Sylvia’s episodes: I Love You, I Hate YouLittle America Revisited

Portrait of Katie Davis © Darrow Montgomery Katie Davis

is a writer and producer living in Washington, D.C. Her work has appeared on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and “This American Life.” In her pieces for the Goethe-Institut, Katie has covered a range of German-American subjects, including the photographer Volkmar Wentzel and the judge Thomas Buergenthal.
Katie’s episode: Anatomy of an Apology

Ada von der Decken Photo (detail): privat Ada von der Decken

is a Hamburg-based freelance radio reporter. She works for the public radio station Deutschlandfunk and teaches journalism at Hamburg University for Applied Sciences. Find out more on her website.
Ada’s episode: Hunting

Susannah Edelbaum Photo (detail): private Susannah Edelbaum

lived in New York for years. In 2014, she opted for a change of scenery, moving to Germany along with her cat. She is now based in Berlin where she works as a freelance writer and occasional translator. Find out more on her website.
Susannah’s episode: Encounters

Dina Elsayed Photo (detail): privat Dina Elsayed

has worked for news outlets like NPR and “Financial Times.” Since 2017, she has been working as a freelance journalist based out of Berlin.
Dina’s episode: The Diary

Moritz Gerlach Photo (detail): privat Moritz Gerlach

is a journalist from Hamburg, Germany. Typically, he writes for print publications, but sometimes he writes online articles. In 2019, Moritz spent a month in New York City where he saw the Jets play and grabbed a hot dog in Coney Island. Find out more on his website.
Moritz’s episode: Hunting

Melissa Gerr Foto (Ausschnitt): privat Melissa Gerr

lives in Baltimore, Maryland, and captures sounds and stories in the world around her. Her previous pieces for the Goethe-Institut have profiled mothers in Germany and the U.S. and the congregation at Zion Lutheran Church. Find out more about her work here.
Melissa’s episodes: Wonder, Community

Florenz Gilly Photo (detail): privat Florenz Gilly

is a freelance reporter based out of Berlin and the producer of Humboldt University’s podcast Microform. During a year abroad at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, he covered local news for the town’s radio station WVBR.
Florenz’s episode: The Diner

Leon Ginzel Photo (detail) © Leon Ginzel Leon Ginzel

works as a freelance reporter for various German radio stations and is the co-host of the podcast Doppelspitze. In 2019, Leon did a traineeship at KUOW in Seattle through the RIAS Berlin Kommission.
Leon’s episode: The Diner

Cariad Harmon Photo (detail) © Shervin Lainez Cariad Harmon

is an independent radio producer, writer, and musician. Originally from Great Britain, she now resides in Nashville, Tennessee. These days, she prefers making stories to making music, focusing on the ties that bind us together, pull us apart, and connect us. Find out more on her website.
Cariad’s episodes: Record BoothRoad Trip

Porträt von Jim McKee Foto (Ausschnitt) © Maria Gilardin Jim McKee

studied music at the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music and the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College. In the ’80s and ’90s, he worked on “Hörspiel/USA,” a German-American radio project. Jim co-founded and owns Earwax Productions.
Jim’s episode: Listening

Porträt von Carol McKinley Foto (Ausschnitt) © Carol McKinley Carol McKinley

is a journalist with over 40 years of experience. She lives in Colorado with her husband, her mom, and her French bulldog. Carol grew up in Wiesbaden, Germany, in the ’70s and says that German culture is still one of her greatest passions.
Carol’s episode: Sacred Self

Jakob Lewis © Jakob Lewis Jakob Lewis

is the creative director of Great Feeling Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. He was born in Germany while his father was stationed there with the military. Although he left Germany as a baby, his interest in the country has remained strong.
Jakob’s episodes: The Garden, My Pen Pal

Monika Müller-Kroll Photo (detail): © Monika Müller-Kroll Monika Müller-Kroll 

has lived around the world in cities like Amsterdam and Los Angeles, producing radio stories for various German public radio networks. She is currently an editor and radio producer in Berlin. At KCRW Berlin, she produced English-language radio for the German capital.
Monika’s episodes: I Love You, I Hate YouLittle America Revisited, The Diary, Encounters

Susanne Papawassiliu Photo: Susanne Papawassiliu Susanne Papawassiliu

is a broadcast journalist who works in television and radio, mostly for the German networks RBB and Deutschlandfunk Kultur. She lives in Berlin.
Susanne’s episode: Adventure

Bilal Qureshi © Bilal Qureshi Bilal Qureshi

is a radio journalist and culture writer whose work has appeared on NPR and in “The New York Times,” “The Washington Post,” “Newsweek,” and “Film Quarterly.” From 2011 to 2012, Bilal was based in Berlin and Munich as a transatlantic fellow of the Robert Bosch Stiftung.
Bilal’s episodes: Radio WanderlustIn Friendship
 

Jocelyn Robinson © Jocelyn Robinson Jocelyn Robinson 

is an educator, independent producer, and radio preservationist based in Yellow Springs, Ohio. In 2019, Jocelyn traveled to Berlin with the Goethe-Institut program “Radiobrücke Reversed” where she visited the German radio station Deutschlandfunk Kultur. Find out more about her work on her website.
Jocelyn’s episodes: The Flag, Home

Alex van Oss Photo: Alex van Oss Alex van Oss

has been a reporter and producer for four decades, for NPR and other networks. From 2003 to 2014, he coordinated Caucasus Area Studies for the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Service Institute. Alex once played the part of German playwright Bertolt Brecht in a high school theater production.
Alex’s episode: How Buildings Mean

Team

Verena Hütter Photo (detail): © Kopf & Kragen Verena Hütter

works out of Washington, D.C. as the director of communications for the Goethe-Institut in North America. Before that, she lived in Munich, Germany. Follow her on Instagram at ead.weard.

Savannah Beck Photo (detail): © Savannah Beck Savannah Beck

is the online editor at the Goethe-Institut Washington. She’s originally from Florida, but spent a year abroad in Essen, Germany during high school. Follow her on Instagram at slo_beck.

Jenny Marrenbach Photo (detail): © Oliver Wolff Jenny Marrenbach

is a radio maker and editor from Berlin, Germany. Her first experience in the U.S. was as a 16-year-old exchange student in North Dakota. She’s producing the German version of THE BIG PONDER for rbbKultur.

William Gilcher Photo (detail): © William Gilcher William Gilcher

worked on electronic media projects for the Goethe-Institut Washington for years. Bill lives in Maryland and keeps in touch with his German heritage through his work in the cultural sector. He is the founder of Harmonia Band Communications LLC and the editor of the English-language episodes of THE BIG PONDER.

Dario Radisic Photo (detail): © Dario Radisic Dario Radisic

specializes in cultural studies and works in Berlin as a freelance author, editor, and project manager. Dario has a minor in American Studies and has been to the East Coast a few times. He looks after the website and coordinates the distribution of THE BIG PONDER.

Nicola Hofstetter Photo (detail): © Nicola Hofstetter Nicola Hofstetter

is originally from Munich, but now lives in Virginia with her German-American family. She is responsible for social media and digital communications at the Goethe-Institut Washington. Find out more at nikkioutwest.com.

Flawn Williams Photo (detail): © Victoria Moss Flawn Williams

is the technical director of THE BIG PONDER. Flawn spent decades making programs for NPR and teaching audio journalism and music recording at Georgetown University. Growing up, Flawn briefly lived in Germany while his father was stationed there with the U.S. Army. Now, he lives in Maryland. 

Our Partners

Bertelsmann Foundation Logo The Bertelsmann Foundation is an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C. dedicated to a strong and lasting transatlantic relationship.
 
RBB Kultur Logo rbbKultur is part of Radio Berlin Brandenburg, a national public broadcasting station for the German states of Berlin and Brandenburg. They produced the German-language episodes of THE BIG PONDER.
 
RIAS Berlin Kommission Logo RIAS Berlin Kommission is a transatlantic exchange program for broadcast journalists from the U.S. and Germany that was founded in 1992. Today, there are over 1,800 alumni of the program.