Mike Litt stands behind a few branches of a decorated Christmas tree.

3 questions for Mike Litt, the loneliest DJ in the world

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"I'm surprised that 'The loneliest DJ in the world' hasn't been forgotten."

Mike Litt is a radio presenter, book author and host of our podcast "Alle Rhein!". 1Live, the fresh, young station in the WDR portfolio, was launched in 1995. Programs such as 1Live "Partyservice" with Piet Blank from Blank & Jones and later 1Live "Klubbing" made him one of the hottest radio DJs and presenters of the time - the era when the Love Parade went through the roof and Mayday in Dortmund attracted tens of thousands of visitors. In 1997, "Der einsamste DJ der Welt" went on air for the first time, hosted by Mike Litt. The special thing about it: The live show filled Christmas Eve. In 2012, Litt published a book of the same name. In it, he describes not only his life as the loneliest DJ, but also his childhood. We spoke to him about Christmas Eve, childhood and big feelings.

Working on Christmas Eve is unimaginable for most people. But you hosted the radio show "The loneliest DJ in the world" for 20 years. How did that come about?
In 1997, 1Live was still in its pioneering phase and we were all very creative. We were rethinking radio. Nobody did a live show on Christmas Eve. The idea came from the then 1Live boss Jochen Rausch. He wanted people who were alone on Christmas Eve to feel less lonely. I was newly separated and therefore sad and just as lonely as many of our listeners. So I took on the new format. I was a kind of catalyst for people who felt alone. Listeners could send us their music requests in advance, by post or fax. There was no internet back then. Of course, it wasn't just Christmas songs. I had a free hand in the selection. The broadcasts were always very moving. Many people were grateful for the format and I received letters and faxes that were very emotional. I even had to cry a few times during the broadcast. Over the years, the mail came in stacks. I still get asked about "The loneliest DJ in the world" to this day. After I became a father myself, I did the show for a few more years and then decided to host it one last time in 2017 for its 20th anniversary.

Mike Litt, black and white photo

You published the book "The loneliest DJ in the world" in 2012, which is basically your autobiography. You provide insights into your life and also tell us that you grew up with your grandmother and aunt because your mother disappeared without a trace. You never got to know your father. I think it takes courage to show yourself vulnerable in this way. What prompted you to do this?
We all have our wounds and our injuries. When I look at my early childhood life story from the outside, I can only come to the conclusion that I am desolate. The question was and is, how do I deal with it? It was a long development process for me until I was ready to talk about it. The social climate has changed. There is more room for private and psychological sensitivities. It is still a challenge for everyone to face up to this. Everyone has to carry their own baggage. After many years of celebrating Christmas quite anonymously on the channel, I was suddenly the father of twins and part of my own family. My impulse was that my boys should know their father. Also because I don't know anything about my father. I grew up with my grandma, aunt and cousin. I thought for a long time that I didn't need a father. But I want something different for my boys.

You hosted the show "The loneliest DJ in the world" for 20 years, that's a long time. You just said that some of the letters were very emotional and touched you deeply. Is there a story that you still remember today?
We always received a lot of mail. I picked out some letters from the pile that I often couldn't even check in advance. The likelihood thata listenerwould be picked out of the pile of letters several times was actually an impossibility. But it happened. Every year I have had a letter from a listener, Andreas, with the requested song "Stop the cavalry" by Jona Lewie - even for the last broadcast. When I had his letter in my hand, I first made jokes about it and then read it out. But his story really pulled the rug out from under my feet. He wished for the song year after year for his deceased brother. I had no idea the years before. That was a moment that made me cry. We actually got to know each other later and are still in contact. The last time we saw each other was four years ago in Essen during the run-up to Christmas, at a reading of my book. I'm surprised that neither the show nor the book have been forgotten. "The loneliest DJ in the world" has become a role, a character. Let's see, maybe I'll do something with it again in the near future.

Interview: Cynthia Blasberg
Photos: Courtesy of Mike Litt.

Mike Litt was born in the US state of Virginia, lived in Bochum for a long time and works mostly in Cologne. What few people know is that the cosmopolitan lives with his family in Düsseldorf's beautiful Zooviertel district. He is a radio presenter (1Live, WDR 2, DLF Nova), DJ with Mayday experience and author.

Tip: If you don't want to wait until Mike Litt appears as the loneliest DJ, you can listen to our podcast "Alle Rhein!". He can also be heard regularly on WDR2 with the program "Pop" and on Deutschlandfunk Nova with "Club der Republik".

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