Developing Radio Partners

 

Russia

 

“This project was a great success for Russian local broadcasters. During the seminars in Moscow the DPR trainer suggested a lot of useful things for Russian broadcasters, such as writing mission statements, mapping of the media landscape, defining the unique media niche; organizing the program schedule, program evaluation, audience feedback; strategic analysis of the station’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; objectives that are measurable and realistic.

And during the study trip, perfectly organized by the DRP, Russian radio broadcasters learned a lot of really useful techniques such as creating the database of the listeners and working with volunteers. Radio Corporation now is looking forward to work on further partner projects together with such professional specialists as Developing Radio Partners.”

As told by: Natalia Jakimovskaya - Executive Director at ANO Radio Corporation in Moscow, Russia

DSC07712 DSC07643 DSC00031-600 DSC00040-600 Natasha Yakimovskaya, executive director of Radio Corporation our in-country partner that sponsored the trip Group Photo

 

Working as Weavers by Bill Siemering - DRP President

 

We know that lasting change is the result of careful work, collaboration with excellent partners and small investments over a period of time. Here is the story of a recent project that illustrates how we have gathered threads from many sources, and like weavers, created a lasting, durable fabric.

The story begins in 2001 when I was on the staff of the Open Society Network Media Program and read about the Russian Foundation for Independent Radio Broadcasting (FNR), which works to improve the quality of local radio. At the same time, the public radio station WBEZ in Chicago was organizing the first Third Coast Radio Festival to promote and celebrate excellence in radio production.

Although it was unprecedented, I contacted Natalya Vlasova, the director of FNR, and told her I would organize a study tour for her in the U.S., including the Third Coast Radio Festival on the agenda. Natalya and her colleague Andrei Allakhverdov traveled to Chicago, then on to Minnesota Public Radio, the International Center for Journalists and other organizations in Washington and New York.

Inspired by what they had seen, they organized seven regional festivals and workshops upon their return to Russia. The third annual “Together Radio” festival for regional radio stations concluded in June 2009. The artistic director from the Third Coast Radio Festival and many U.S.-based producers have joined Russian colleagues in these festivals. In 2009, Ira Glass, the creator and host of Chicago Public Radio’s This American Life, spoke about the importance of public service and the use of personal stories to highlight social issues.

Natalya Vlasova and her colleague Natalia Yakimovskaya, director of the FNR’s sister company, asked DRP to join them in a project funded by the International Media Partnership Program in Russia, administered by the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX).

The project consisted of four parts:

  1. A competition that inspired stations to develop concepts for Radio of Our City projects and programming. Key criteria for selection of winning concepts were the extent and depth of citizens’ engagement and positive, lasting impact of the project for listeners.
  2. A three-day seminar in Moscow from February 16 – 18, 2009, including sessions on community engagement, mission-driven programming, community mapping, audience research methodologies, and different models of income generation led by DRP consultant Jean Fairbairn. At the seminar, eight winning Radio of Our City concepts were selected. The prize was a study tour to the USA for a representative from each of the winning stations.
  3. A study tour to the USA organised by DRP, which took place from May 16 – 22, 2009, in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota, organized by DRP president and consultant Julia Barton, who is also a Knight Fellow with FNR and former DRP board member.
  4. Final debriefing seminar led by Jean Fairbairn, during the FNR/Radio Corps annual “Radio Together” Festival in Moscow on June 27, 2009, and presentation of certificates to the Radio of Our City competition winners.

One of the winners was Mariya-FM in Kirov, who organized children and drivers in a road safety campaign. Schoolteachers invited children to write letters to drivers, appealing to them to drive better, so as not to put children’s lives at risk. About 3,000 letters were given to the traffic department, and when traffic officers stopped cars for infringements, they would immediately be given a fine and a letter from a child. The traffic department cooperated fully because the project fit their own safe-driving campaigns. In addition to the 3,000 children who wrote letters, the project engaged 140 teachers and 80 police officers. As a result:

During the study tour, the managers spent time at Minnesota Public Radio, seven Clear Channel stations, CBS-owned WCCO, community radio station KFAI, African-American community radio WMOJ and family-owned KSTP. Because Russia only licenses state and commercial radio, public radio was a new concept to the managers.

In the June seminar, the managers described how they applied what they learned in the U.S. to their stations. In evaluating the experience, a manager from St. Petersburg wrote:

"The idea of public radio became close to me. I hope I will have an opportunity to participate in such a project implemented in Russia. I loved the idea of a radio station where 400 volunteers worked for free. Everyone who really wants to can get on air there. That kind of station directly corresponds to the demands of working for the listener. Also, it is a great opportunity to see the listener, to listen to him.

Probably for the first time in my life, I not only saw, but also felt the people who work not for money. They work with the goal of leaving a trace after them, not only on the ground, but also in the heads and hearts of the listeners. I felt it on the public stations."

These friendships, experiences, inspirations and transfer of knowledge are threads in a fabric, woven by many hands, over the last decade.

 

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