Beni Thurnheer was discovered in 1973, when he was chosen out of 1600 competitors taking part in a youth sports reporter contest staged by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation.
He spent the early years of his broadcasting career working in radio. In 1975, he made his first television appearance as the presenter of the 'Sportkalender' format. With time, he presented virtually all Swiss-German sports programmes ('Sport am Wochenende', 'Sportpanorama', 'Sport aktuell'.)
As a live commentator, his main focus was on football, with regular detours into ice hockey (around a dozen World Cups and 21 Spengler Cups), alpine skiing (including the 1982 World Cup), beach volleyball (2004 Olympic Games), curling (2006, 2010 and 2014 Olympic Games), sailing (2007 America's Cup) and gymnastics (around a dozen European and World Championships, plus the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games).
At the same time, he pursued a career in entertainment broadcasting, beginning with regular presenting slots on morning radio programmes ('Espresso', 'Guten Morgen', 'Etcetera') and continuing with appearances as a quiz and show host on Swiss television ('Glückskugel' 1978/79, 'Tell-Star' 1980-1991, 'Benissimo' 1992-2012).
'Tell-Star' was initially broadcast weekly, then fortnightly (but live) and originally conceived to be shown in 1990 only. The popular quiz show ultimately enjoyed a successful 12-year run, achieving the highest viewing ratings. This success was surpassed by 'Benissimo', a big budget live Saturday night show that was broadcast five times a year and reached a market share of over 50% and more than one million viewers – making it the longest-running Saturday programme on Swiss television.
Other appearances as a host of live programmes include 'Tell 1987', the 1998 Miss Switzerland pageant, 'Die grössten Schweizer Hits' (a talk format) and as a commentator of the Eurovision Song Contest (1984 – 1993).
He has won a number of awards for his work:
4 x Prix Walo (The Swiss 'Oscar'):
• 1981: the most popular Swiss entertainment broadcaster
• 1986: the most popular television programme ('Tell Star')
• 1997: best broadcaster
• 1999: the most popular television programme ('Benissimo')
2000 Tele-Preis 2000: award for outstanding achievements in electronic media
2007 TV Star: award for television personality of the year
From A to Z with Beni
From the life of a television broadcaster.
In this presentation, Beni Thurnheer shares anecdotes and insights gleaned from a 40-year career in radio and television. There is a keyword for each of the 26 letters of the alphabet, on which he speaks for 1, 1.30 or 2 minutes. Accordingly, this presentation lasts 26, 39 or 52 minutes. No presentation resembles the other – the keywords vary, depending on the location, organizer and desired focus.
This presentation is suitable as a post-lunch pick-me-up or to conclude an event, when heads are already full of information and minds have become a little sluggish. In such situations, audiences are usually receptive to content that is entertaining and informal while helping them stay alert.
Hosting a seminar day/professional convention/workshop, announcing speakers, questioning them after their speech, encouraging discussion, hosting a debate with multiple speakers, providing the central theme for longer events. Here too, Beni Thurnheer loves to create customized content for each occasion.
Beni Thurnheer enjoys interviewing people from all walks of life – from athletes to scientists and politicians. The aim is to satisfy the audience's curiosity and desire for knowledge while maintaining an atmosphere that leaves room for spontaneity.
Beni Thurnheer is also happy to appear as an interview guest. All questions are permitted, providing they respect the rules common decency. Since he has experienced both sides of the coin – as an interviewer and interviewee – he has developed a sense for what really interests people and what tends to bore them (and avoids the latter as much as possible). A talk can last for 10, 15, 20 minutes or even an hour, with the possibility of adding on a subsequent Q&A session with the audience.