"We do not want you to give an aceptance speech. I will ask you a few questions after you receive the award." I was happy to hear what host Petra Gute had planned for the ceremony.
Acceptance speeches are landmines - not that I am talking from experience. But after covering award shows for many years I know that even the most experienced winners forget to thank people they really should not forget, or they are chased off the stage by random music before they can mention everybody, or worst of all: they are terribly boring.
The RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION honored journalists from TV, radio and Online media, they chose very diverse stories about topics from the melting of glaciers in Alaska to the history of barbed wire and its meaning for US society.
The award has special meaning for me because I started my career at RIAS, Radio In The American Sector, shortly after the Berlin wall came down. Maybe even more important: The RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION changed my life. Really? Really! And I had to find a way to thank them without a speech ...
They accepted me for a scholarship in 1994, when I spent eight weeks in Washington DC, Seattle, Texas and New York. We talked with senators, US news veterans, professors, students, and anybody who would talk with us. I was fascinated by the country and started to 'specialize' in my work on stories related to the United States. I became junior correspondent in Washington DC. Twice. The first time I met a really nice man. He now is my husband. I got the assignment as US West coast correspondent. I interviewed former US president George Bush. Everything because of the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION.
So my moment came up. I received the award, holding it happily in my arms when the host asked the first question: "What did you think when you heard that you won the award?"
I hesitated just a split second, thinking about things and people I probably should mention. And then honestly said:
For more than ten years I had entered stories into the competition. I almost gave up. And here it was.
Fortunately the whole place erupted with laughter and somehow I managed to mention all the other things I wanted to say in the following answers.