Andreas Broeckmann on Wed, 17 Nov 1999 12:12:05 +0200

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Re: Syndicate: inquiry: public loudspeaker systems?

[the first instalment of responses to:]

Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 10:48:55 +0200
From: Andreas Broeckmann <>
Subject: Syndicate: inquiry: public loudspeaker systems?

dear friends,

we were discussing a project about sound in public spaces the other night
and were wondering how much truth there is to the myth that, all across
central and eastern europe, there were these 'big brother'-style
loudspeaker systems in the streets through which public announcements could
be made at any time.

did they exist?
has anybody done research about them?
is there any archival material about how they were (supposed to be) used?

i'd be happy about comments and suggestions for sources.


From: nomade urbanus <>

for sure as far as I remember in every big city were
the parade was taking place for the 7th of November or
1st & 9th of May and so on there were such a
loudspeakers installed on houses, trees, street light
sup, etc.

They really did exsist in Vilnius/LT untill the boom
of metal export started in 1990-1992...


From: "Nebojsa Vilic" <>

hi andreas,
i can not help. as far as i know that ['big-brother'-system -- i like the
metaphor] never had
existed in macedonia. i have not heared even for ex yugoslavia.
greetings, nebojsa

From: Jaka Zeleznikar <>

hi Andreas
i never heard about this in Europe but I heard about the
loudspeakers in China. They were "instaled" on the
trafic lights in big crossroads. At least thats what a friend
told me when he came back from china some years ago.
best regards

From: ana peraica <>

we have that system now with church, but it was used before only with
public speaches of Tito when the space /square/ was not big enough.
We reffered to it in a project ArtCoustic/Soundure /sound urban
interventions, Split, 1998/.

From: "Mihajlo  Acimovic" <>

 There is a Yugoslav film called "Tri karte za Holivud" (three tickets to
holywood). Near the end of it, there are scenes of the police beating and
arresting the entire population of a village in Serbia, while the police
commander does pep-talk over the powerful public loudspeaker system. The
film is about times when all the police had red stars on their caps and
Tito's train passing through the village was the main event for them.
I don't remember ever hearing this system. I think it was even not used in
the cities, when Tito died. Then, at a football game in Split (now
Croatia), the news were read over the stadium's loudspeaker system. In my
elementary school (I started it in 87), there were loudspeakers in the
wall, but I remember they were used only a dozen or so times and I can't
remember for what. It could had been important school announcements.
Anyway, the last few times they were used, we couldn't understand anything.
The loudspeakers were old and sckrewed up. Nobody wanted to install new
ones. They just stopped using them after that.


From: Thorsten Schilling <>

hallo andreas,
da muss man gar nicht soweit gehen, die gabs auch in der ddr zb in leipzig
an zentralen haltestellen. sehr beliebt zb im nachmittaeglichen
berufsverkehr gab es rundfunksendungen, musik und informatioonen, in den
achtzigern als ich es erleben durfte wars nicht ganz so krude ideologisch,
wie vielleicht in den 60ern.
wen man da fragen koennte? rundfunkarchiv? mdr?
viele gruesse thorsten

From: Inke Arns <>

yes, you're quite right about these loudspeakers in public spaces. For
example there was a whole system of these loudspeakers in the center of
Leipzig. I forgot how they were called -- something like Stadtradio ("city
radio") or so. I remember that we wanted to re-activate them for the
Medienbiennale exhibition in 1994 which then did not work out due to
bureaucratical reasons.

>we were discussing a project about sound in public spaces the other night
>and were wondering how much truth there is to the myth that, all across

It is definitely not a myth my dear, at least not in Leipzig/GDR. Yeah, it
was used for public announcements, for news, etc. I don't know exactly
because I never listened to these loudspeakers. In my city there were no
loudspeakers (fortunately).

>did they exist?
>has anybody done research about them?
>is there any archival material about how they were (supposed to be) used?

I know that some people in Leipzig were busy with this system. Dieter
Daniels should know more about this. He actually should by now have
completed his book on the history of radio ("Kunst als Sendung"). Maybe
there are/were even people doing research.


From: geert-jan <>

>spoke with Ben of zoviet*franse today
>he mentioned a sound system in the public transport in newcastle.
>this is used to control people, like when kids wand to make trouble they
>play classical music.
>I asked him to look in to this and if he wands to write about it.
>more news soon

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