Sounding board - Issue 104 - Magazine | Monocle

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Company: FM4, a branch of state broadcaster Österreichischer Rundfunk (ORF)
Headquarters: Vienna
Founded: 1995
Broadcast area: Austria, South Germany and Switzerland

“Radio, when it’s open and approachable, is a window to lots of cultural developments,” says Natalie Brunner. She should know: she’s spent more than half her life on air as a DJ and presenter at FM4. The fourth channel from orf (Österreichischer Rundfunk – Austrian Broadcasting), it is dedicated to alternative music.

Raised in southern Austria, Brunner moved to Vienna at 16. Not long after, a friend encouraged her to contact the new radio station, which was looking for young talent. She produced her first FM4 feature at 17 while the person in charge of hiring was on holiday. “I was never formally hired,” she says. “I was just there.”

Now, 22 years later, Brunner is still there and still amazed that she gets paid for what she does: following electronic and hip-hop music and exploring the genres’ musical and social questions. Brunner wears many hats at FM4: she’s a presenter but also produces longer-format shows, including interviews. She’s known for Friday night electronic-music show La Boum De Luxe, which runs from 21.00 to 06.00. “I didn’t invent the format but about 10 years ago the station realised I was following this music in local venues anyway,” she says. “I was the girl with the darkest circles under her eyes.”

FM4 is niche but its audience is influential. Its programming is multilingual (it originally shared its frequency with the now-defunct English-language Blue Danube Radio) and listeners appreciate the obscure European bands that they can only hear here.

Brunner’s on-air observations often reveal deeper thoughts on the meaning of music and life, feminism, aesthetics and politics – and are a large part of why she’s remained so popular. Her inner circle reflects her wide-ranging interests. “These women add something to my work; we ask the same questions but in a shifted context,” she says. “It’s important to find people you connect with on an emotional, intellectual and spiritual level. If you find these qualities it doesn’t matter what field they work in.”

Natalie Brunner

Presenter and DJ at FM4

Brunner joined the station in 1996 while still in high school and has been a familiar voice ever since. Now almost 40, she is an fm4 stalwart, presenting daytime shows and conducting live interviews. For the past decade she has hosted La Boum De Luxe, an all-night show that’s long on music and short on words, where she plays her own tunes, features fm4’s in-house DJs and brings in musicians for live sessions. In 2015, she and several colleagues won an award for their Hip-Hop Lesekreis (Hip-Hop Reading Group) show, which discusses and deconstructs the genre and its lyrics.

The Cabinet

(Left to right)

Susi Ondrusova Music co-ordinator, FM4.
“Susi can organise everything and make everyone happy. She’s incorruptible and unbiased.

Parastu Visual artist.
“She is a creator of worlds; she’s consciousness-expanding. It’s a luxury to know someone who allows you into her universe.”

Dalia Ahmed DJ ORF, music journalist and marketing assistant at Kunsthalle Wien.
“Dalia puts questions into broader contexts. She always adds a new angle to any discussion.”

Katharina Seidler ORF, music journalist.
“Katharina is a great music journalist; beyond ORF she works for every Austrian media outlet that has anything to do with contemporary electronic music.”

Marianne Vlaschits Visual artist.
“She’s a brilliant feminist artist; I knew her work before I knew her. She brings humour into things as well.”

Elsa Okazaki Visual artist and photographer.
“We’ve known each other a very long time. I’m intrigued by the beauty and clarity of her work.”

Parvin Razavi Chef and author.
“I eat her cooking! She was food blogging before anyone else; she’s now writing books on Oriental vegan food and more. She’s an inspiration.”

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