Stories From California

I fell in love with being a reporter when I got an internship at the RIAS in Berlin, weeks after die Berliner Mauer between East und West came down. I moved to Los Angeles in 2003 when I was assigned to be the head of German public radio’s West coast studio. In 2008, I became the California correspondent for Weltreporter, the largest network of German freelance foreign correspondents. I mostly work for Deutsches Public Radio, LA’s NPR station KCRW, and the journalism collective RiffReporter. If you want me to write a story for your publication, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

It's Complicated - An Oral History Project

"Our students often don't have an elder to talk to. They left them behind in another country."

ManualArtssmall At a South Los Angeles High School

I was heading to the first volunteer session for one of my favorite writing programs expecting a few fun hours spent with students. Our task was to prepare them for interviews with elders from their families and later support them in writing stories about what they heard.

I figured that this assignment would be easy for me. I prepared a thousand interviews in my reporter life. At least! So I could not wait to meet the students and hear the stories they were about to collect.

The task turned out to be very different from what I had expected. Not only had I completely forgotten that most teenagers find it anything but exciting to sit down with their parents or grandparents for an intimate interview. I also had not thought about the possibility that some of these children do not really have an elder in their family to interview ...

When The Moon Is Up - Stories From Watts


This year has been full of new adventures for me, so many and so exciting adventures that I sometimes forgot to update this blog and write about them.

But I absolutely do not want to end this year without mentioning one of my favorite experiences of 2017: volunteering for the non-profit 826LA, which supports students finding their voices, telling stories in their own words and finding the confidence within themsleves to create the stories of their life. 

"When The Moon Is Up" is one of the books they created during the year. I was lucky enough to support a few students at Alan LeRoy Locke College Preparatory Academy for this project and am happy to share some of their experiences here. 

Thank you Myke Dodge Weiskopf for the mix!

Happy New Year! Go and tell your stories!

[link to the book]

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StoryShack - My Newest Adventure on the Road


In my early years as reporter I loved one assignement most: taking an Ü-Wagen (a mobile studio) on the road and talking with people wherever I met them, from kids at a newly open ice rink to dancing Techno-Music fans at the Berlin Love Parade. I have been dreaming of getting my own mobile studio ever since.

Now I have come one step closer to making this dream a reality: at the last Mar Vista ArtWalk I set up my first 'Story Shack' in the middle of all the wonderful happenings of artists painting, bands playing, DJs spinning tunes, businesses offering special deals and the community enjoying a night out to meet their neighbors. 

The shack could not have been more beautiful: A vintage 1965 Airstream owned by great friends, decked out with psychedelic decoration and of course my recorder and microphone. All night long people joined me inside to tell their stories. SO FUN! Here are a few of the stories they told of love, gun shots, a punk show and the perfect first day in Mar Vista

Lilly's First Day In Mar Vista - Perfect!


Where Marianne Heard the First Gun Shots in her Life 


Brendon's Surprise at a Punk Show


Rusty's and RoseErin's Love Story


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The Logistics Of Homelessness


"I lived here about four years. I understand the logistics of homelessness. You are trying to find a bathroom, brushing your teeth, just those little things. I mean, YOU'RE ON A SIDEWALK!
One thing that makes me happy is to find this person who would not have reached out to me, and I reached out to them, and turns out they needed help. I like to find those people."
Shanae Cannon, outreach worker at C3, a homeless service on Skid Row

I remember when I first came to Los Angeles as a reporter for German public radio, my first assignment were the Oscars. I reported about diamond studded shoes on the red carpet, gift bags, glitz and glam, poolside junkets under palm trees. A few weeks later I was on Skid Row, homeless capital of Los Angeles. Wow! It was like enering a different universe!