Sweden has many traditions to mark the beginning of summer. Germany does not have quite as many – or I do not observe them – but let’s be honest, in both countries you need these events to know it’s officially summer. Because unlike in the southern countries, the weather is not a reliable source of information when it comes to that season. (I hear Gotland has 12 degrees and rain and Dalarna experienced the same temperature on Midsummer as on Christmas Eve (9 degrees).)
One of the Swedish traditions is the radio program “Summer in channel 1”. It starts on Midsummer and the announcement of its hosts is only made days before, generating public excitement and interest. And when the first “Sommar, sommar, sommar”, the distinctive signature melody sounds from the speakers, that tune I hold so dear, I know it’s summer time. Time to listen to the program on some idyllic archipelago island. (Or in my laundry room.)
I was only introduced to that program a few years ago and have become a loyal fan. I love intelligent, pleasantly laid-back radio shows. Whenever I have to cook, clean, fold laundry, do my nails or conduct other chores that do not require all of my brain capacity, I put on a podcast and “the job’s a game!”
“Sommar i P 1” features Swedes (and some foreigners) that for 90 minutes get to talk about themselves and play the music they choose. Over the years, I got to hear talks about a comic strip artist’s menstruation, a rapper’s confrontation with racism, a mother’s cancer, a screen author’s wishing for a baby, a number one ski celebrity coming out as lesbian, a young journalist being threatened by the people she wrote about.
The summer program is an excellent training for navigating the Swedish who’s who. Even if I might have known Liv Strömquist existed, I did not know exactly what she did and what she believed in. It seems to me that being asked to “summer-talk” is a kind of ennoblement: what you have to say is important enough for the “Summer in channel 1”. Knowing what was discussed on the program often works very well as a topic for talk with Swedes as the programs can easily end up in the headlines.
Find a video in English explaining the program here
I want the German radio services (that I have to pay every month) to take up the concept. I am absolutely sure that we have an abundance of interesting Germans to give a summer talk.
If you understand Swedish (or a trying to learn, they speak quite clearly if they are not from Skåne), my favorites were:
Antje Jackelén, First Female and Immigrant Arch Bishop of Sweden, immigrated from, yes of course!, Germany, tells us about that “In church, our baptism counts, not our passport”.
Jason “Timbuktu” Diakité, speaks about racism in the light of the national elections coming up and the right-wing party standing strong in Sweden
Sarah Dawn Finer, English-American singer raised in Sweden, talks about her feelings of not being enough and her musical career.
Liv Strömquist, carton strip artists, talks about menstruation. You read correctly.
Peter Wolodarski, editor in chief of DN, Sweden’s biggest newspaper, talks about his childhood, his family and becoming a journalist.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, French ambassador in Sweden, explains with the most adorable French accent, what it is like to deal with Swedes.
Annika Andersson, comedian, reveals a more serious side of herself in her talk about her career and her family choices.
Carolina Neurath, young journalist, impresses the listener with her story of writing a book that brought down important bankers
Anja Pärsson, world-famous skier, uses the program to publicly come out as a lesbian and declare her pregnancy
Klara Zimmergren, author, speaks about what it is like to wish for a baby and never become a mother.
Clara Lidström, famous blogger, talks about how old-fashionedness and a modern mind go together and about the experience of losing a parent to cancer.
I have not listened to all by far so check out the others as well. This year, I am so long doing very well with 4 of 6 listened to!