The history of RADIO AKTIV

1995 - Herzogenmühle public school. Class F, a bunch of demanding young students, drive the young music teacher Daniel Odermatt almost crazy - and at the same time they give the go-ahead for an extraordinary project.

Music lessons in secondary school - not an easy task, as Daniel Odermatt soon realizes with his unruly class F.  After half a year, he sees only one way out: He needs an exciting project to survive the remaining time with this wild pack.

"We could do a school radio!" is the first (amazingly creative!) suggestion from the class. And Bruno, the most difficult of all pupils, promptly comes up with a suitable name for that radio station: "RADIO AKTIV. Do you understand? It's a play on words. We are active, do radio, are toxic..." The former bad boys suddenly show an unprecedented pioneering spirit. And after only two months of preparation, the launch of RADIO AKTIV is officially announced in the school building. On Tuesday January 31 1995 at 10:02 a.m., the very first broadcast of RADIO AKTIV resounds on the playground. The appearance of the radio team is initially met with astonishment, followed by enthusiasm, in the audience. But certainly, nobody would have guessed that this very day marked the kick-off of a 26-year tradition.


1997 - a mobile broadcast console

During the first three years RADIO AKTIV broadcasts using the simplest means. Although the production is continuously improved, the effort to set up and wire up the improvised studio for each broadcast is too much of a hassle. In the summer of 1998, Daniel Odermatt thus transforms a former desktop into the “RADIO AKTIV Studio 2” - a mobile broadcasting console with five permanently installed workplaces for presenters, sound engineers and DJs. A new loudspeaker truck provides the sound for the schoolyard. From now on, two reporters mingle with the audience, equipped with a wireless microphone, doing interviews and collecting the ever so popular greetings for classmates.


1997 - RADIO AKTIV on the road

The RADIO AKTIV Studio 2 fits to an inch into Odermatt's Renault Express. This makes it possible to broadcast outside the school building as well. "RADIO AKTIV on the road" is from now on the name of our outdoor radio broadcasts at sporting events, parties, shows and other occasions. Gradually the name RADIO AKTIV is spreading and celebrities from the areas of music, sports and politics are coming to us for interviews.


RADIO AKTIV has been broadcasting for seven years now. If in the beginning the presenters in the studio were barely comprehensible, now a genuine dialogue between the audience and the radio team takes place. Each broadcast has a theme that is introduced by the presenters. In general, it takes less than three minutes for the first pupils to opt for an interview. DJs and sound engineers now operate the broadcasting system with great routine. RADIO AKTIV has become an institution within the school! As a result, classes from other schools start visiting and launch their own radio projects…

2002 - the challenge

In fact, the story of RADIO AKTIV could have ended here. But in the meantime affordable computers and software are available that redefine the handling of music. For RADIO AKTIV this means fascinating new ways of broadcasting. Daniel Odermatt starts dreaming of a new, computer-controlled radio desk that offers all the features of a professional broadcasting studio. He teams up with a befriended EMPA scientist and a TPC computer scientist to pursue this ambitious goal. After four months of engineering, the brand-new "RADIO AKTIV Studio 3" is born and presented at an inaugural show on the schoolyard…

The radio team now has six workstations at their disposal. Presenters and technicians have access to the entire computer system at all times thanks to multiple screens. RADIO AKTIV 3 has a number of unique technical features, such as a relay-controlled microphone activation and deactivation system and a special open-monitoring system, which is a loudspeaker system for the monitoring of the program without headphones.


From DJ to CJ

The significance of the CD is dwindling. The music program manager is now called CJ (Computer Jockey). He operates the new heart of RADIO AKTIV: a broadcast software that is perfectly adapted to the requirements of the school radio station. Anything is possible, from playing playlists to fancy DJ techniques to complex sequencing of broadcasts. The RADIO AKTIV telephone interface directs incoming calls to the broadcast console and from there directly to the schoolyard. It is now possible, for example, to send out greetings from a class camp into the 10 o'clock break - live and audible for everyone. The moderation has become largely paperless: Texts are prepared at home and sent to the studio by e-mail, where they are reviewed and revised before being read off the screen during the broadcast.


In addition to the tried and tested standard broadcast format, new forms are constantly being tried out:

  • RADIO AKTIV International - a format that is moderated in a foreign language.
  • Facts at 10 o'clock - a news and entertainment show, a mini "Echo der Zeit" for young people.
  • The RADIO AKTIV single hit parade "Bestseller on the Playground". (The legendary radio announcer and founder of the Swiss charts Christoph Schwegler has been our station voice since 2008 and recorded the jingle for our house hit parade.) 

In 2008, RADIO AKTIV moved from the music hall to its own room, where Daniel Odermatt added two more studio consoles a few years later. During the radio training the three teams of a class practice simultaneously, split up on three broadcasting consoles.


A radio station needs so-called station IDs, i.e. testimonials by celebrities from all walks of life. Our hunt for such station IDs has been extremely successful. Apart from numerous pop stars, we are probably the only school radio station in the world with a testimonial by superstar Sting. Moreover, the legendary Swiss radio presenter Christoph Schwegler lent us his voice for our radio logos in return for a DJ crash course by Daniel Odermatt. (Of course we did an exclusive broadcast with Schwegler on RADIO ACTIVE.)


2023 - we stay tuned

As the years go by, RADIO AKTIV continues to be a solid institution at Herzli. The station wins several awards and is featured repeatedly in various media. To date, around 2000 pupils have worked with RADIO AKTIV. The fascination for the medium "school radio" remains unbroken. We stay tuned!