Berlin (dpa) - Hundreds of thousands heard him secretly in the GDR: The popular radio host Christian Bienert is dead.

Bienert had taken it over from Hans Rosenthal after his death in 1987 and moderated it until his retirement in 2012. He had written texts for the show since 1969. He died on July 7 at the age of 72, according to Deutschlandradio.

"Christian Bienert created a format with his distinctive style and made it one of the oldest and most successful radio broadcasts in Germany," Germany radio program director Andreas-Peter Weber paid tribute to the services of the radio man. "For decades he has addressed a huge fan base and has become one of the voices in East and West."

“The sounding Sunday riddle”, now only called “Sunday riddle”, has been working according to a simple principle since the mid-1960s: listeners have to guess a word from six or seven letters on a certain subject, and pieces of music help him do this. The great charm of the whole lies in the anecdotes that are told.

The program continues to attract a huge amount of reader mail to this day. During the Cold War, it had a special function for broadcasting in the American sector (RIAS): It was designed to explore the reach of the US-operated broadcaster in the GDR. This is how one of the most successful channel formats came into being, which is still in the program today.

"It was only after the fall of the wall that it became known how many people puzzled the radio every Sunday," says Deutschlandradio. "In March 1990 alone, those responsible received around 380,000 letters from all parts of the country that had not yet been reunited."

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, two metal cases were handed over to the editors with loud mail, which the State Security had intercepted. Ralf Bei Kellen has been sitting at the microphone on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. since 2017.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200714-99-785657 / 4

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