Interview with Peter Kloeppel: ‘I can show that I am also a person with a belly’

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From Sunday Peter Kloeppel will be in a new studio. There he will continue to moderate RTL Aktuell – but just a little differently. In the interview he talks about his work as a journalist and “the million dollar question in America”.

“RTL Aktuell” will soon be broadcast from a new news studio. How many RTL news studios are there for you now?

Peter Kloeppel: I think it’s the fifth. I know that I started in 1992 in a completely renovated studio. Then one or two more came. And then we made a relatively big leap. That was the early 2000s. The studio was a virtual space with a large curved table, which I really liked. We thought that was very futuristic. In 2010 we moved to the current studio – and now to a new one.

You have been in the studio for RTL Aktuell for decades, moderated a lot of news and experienced a lot. What moment in the studio will you never forget?

Of course, I will never forget March 30, 1992, when I had the privilege of anchoring the most important news for the first time. Then of course there were big news events like 9/11, where I was in the studio for a very long time. Good news, like the reception of the national football team after a World Cup win, where you look excitedly into the studio to see what the boys are doing there. There were many beautiful moments. But also malfunctions. The last one we had now was special when in the summer of 2021 the lights went out in the studio in the middle of the show. We could still moderate, but were in the dark.

All in all, it is true: from a very special environment you can provide people with information for 20 minutes every evening. That’s good for me every day.

Not only are you a moderator in the studio, you were a correspondent in the US for a while and also have close private ties to the US. How closely do you follow politics there today?

Very intense of course. I’ve been spending more and more time in the US over the years. I watch a lot of television, read newspapers or online services and see what is happening and how journalists report about it. The split in the media has become increasingly apparent over the past ten to fifteen years. Media such as Fox News or MSNBC have developed in different directions on the one hand and on the other. News is spun by the broadcasters and moderators who don’t really deserve the name news anymore. Sometimes I look at this with horror. But it is also part of the American media landscape, which also strongly reflects the political landscape.

Do you also experience the division in American society among friends and family members?

Yes, anyone living in America with open eyes and ears knows that a political movement has sprung up based on breaking up rather than moving towards each other. The divisions in the political camps have become much wider and deeper over the past fifteen to twenty years. The will to approach each other has diminished. The rhetoric has become sharper. This also partly applies to the private sector. I too have acquaintances and friends, on both sides. As a result, people try to keep politics out of everyday conversations. And it also means that people only want to surround themselves with like-minded people because they can’t stop “dissidents” arguing and discussing.

But I don’t want to close myself off from this, because I believe that you have to listen to both sides to better understand why the opinions are the way they are. But I don’t hold back my opinion when asked. As a foreigner in the US, people also look at me from outside. The will is there to understand why it is different with us.

What do you think: In two years’ time, will Republicans draft someone like Donald Trump again, or even Trump himself?

(laughs) That’s the million dollar question in America that I get asked all the time. There are many indications that Donald Trump would run. You have to choose the subjunctive, because there are also many clues that would make such a candidacy difficult for him. These are the ongoing proceedings and preliminary investigations against him. But also the question to what extent the Republican Party is behind him like a wall or whether there are crumbling developments. I don’t make predictions. There is a very clear trend from the polls, which means Americans are still split 50:50. The midfield that moves between the parties is getting smaller and smaller.

You convey such subjects very professionally to the television viewers, as I do now. But what happens in the studio when a post is active and the moderator doesn’t see it? Are you preparing for the next moderation? Or do you flirt together?

We are quite concentrated at work. We listen to the messages. Ulrike and I see what the public sees on monitors. Sometimes we see this for the first time. In principle we know which topics are discussed, of course we know the process down to the last detail. But there are always moments when we ourselves are often surprised. We talk, if so, about what the viewers are watching. But it is quite little. It’s pretty quiet in our studio. We are focused. We also always know that in the worst case, a message can crash and we’re suddenly back on the screen. You can’t talk about last night’s dinner.

Ulrike von der Groeben has been by your side for years. On the screen, you both seem very friendly. Is that private too?

We’ve known each other for a long time. Ulrike has been featured in the sport here since the late 1980s. We’ve known each other for 35 years, we’re only three meters apart here in the office. We share certain interests, but it’s not like we get together with the families all the time. That’s more of an exception. But we are both passionate newsmakers and viewers. Also passionate athletes. There are always topics we can talk about. But outside of work, everyone has their own life.

In the new studio you can certainly move more and more freely than now. What are you most looking forward to in the new studio?

To the change. I am very used to sitting at a table with my papers and computer in front of me. But I also know that it can sometimes seem a bit static. That’s why I’m glad I can move. That I can walk in front of screens and point out things that I also see. And not, as before, looking at a green wall and trying to see a monitor out of the corner of my eye, which shows the image that the viewers get at home. So that gives us more freedom. But I’m also not a fan of walking around the studio all the time like I’m at a trade show presentation. It will happen here and there that I will stand on the screens and present. But the classic image of a moderator at the table remains. But I can show that I am also a person with a belly.

With the new studio comes a lot of new technology. The question may be a bit cheeky, but: Can you keep up with all the innovations like an old hand in the news?

(laughs) Oh yes. The bigger leap was actually the virtual technology, because we had to think very carefully about how the camera technology works and what the images that appear on the screen look like. How is the movement of the camera in space? The virtual one in the old studio allowed us to make camera movements and the background would change accordingly. All this was a huge technical effort. Now with the new studio it’s all easier. It’s like a classic framing when you’re filming something real. The image on the screen is also the real image that can be seen. I understand that all too well. As an old news bunny, I’m still up to date. However, the challenge will be that the images and graphics on the screens also match the moderation and not be too distracting.

The new programs from the new studio will start on September 4. We are looking forward to the first RTL news issue in the new studio!

Me too!

Rune Weichert spoke to Peter Kloeppel

The interview first appeared on

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