In the fast developing technological world, something gets ahead and something falls behind. At some point, modern radio also found itself at the crossways. Having accepted the fact that the day of cablecasting are numbered, radio has rushed to FM waves and internet. However, over dancing mixes and voices of emcees we no longer hear cultural and historical programs, radio plays or programs with at least minimal intellectual emphasis. On the Day of radio, TV and communication workers ForUm has dropped by National Radio Company of Ukraine and talked to its directoDirector General Taras Avrakhov.

- What does make the Company tick? When you were just appointed the Director General of NRCU you promised to reformat Ukrainian radio and make it a nationwide broadcaster. What has already been done and what has gone wrong?

- Something has been done, something has not. We have formatted all channels and each has its area of focus. The first channel provides public policy broadcast, "Promin" is a varied speech and musical channel, while the third channel is "Culture". We also provide overseas broadcast - in English, German and Romanian languages.  

The state provides full financial support for our structure, and the company works with 100% own content. However, broadcasting is not only creation, but also a possibility to get the creation over to the audience. Unfortunately, the National Radio Company does not have even one fully-featured signal distribution network.

Cablecasting is dying. We have not more than two million left, and it is very sad statistics. Ukrainian radio, of course, is not only cables, but even with the law providing for equality between commercial and state broadcaster, the latter does not have full-featured FM-nets in FM band.

- Do you fight somehow this sad situation?

- We do our best for the National council on TV and radio broadcast to provide us with FM resource. Not so long ago we repeatedly appealed to the council to include this issue into the Plan of development for 2013. Unfortunately, the only answer we have received is to 'think about digital format'. However, the broadcasting format should be considered with European perspective.

The situation in Europe is that FM broadcasting will remain dominant, simply because the development of digital format (DAB, DAB+) does not bring significant quality improvements to justify the expenses. Leading European broadcasters prefer to keep both, analogue and digital broadcasting.

In Ukraine, the situation is unclear, as there is no final decision on digital format. Moreover, National Radio Company is provided with only 30% of FM coverage countrywide for its three channels, and this coverage is outside regional centers and large cities. Under such conditions, we compete only thanks to our loyal audience, which follows our programs and search for our channels on different waves.

- What audience do you focus on, first of all? Or you try to cover all auditory?

- To cover all types of auditory is a pie in the sky, but every channel has its mission. The first channel focuses on the audience over 35-40. We also work on children's programs, and we have changed the time of broadcasting. Now children's programs are broadcast from 4p.m. till 5 p.m., when kids come home from school. Moreover, we try to make children's programs without artificial baby talks to make them interesting for all ages. "Promin" channel is oriented for audience over 30, and "Culture" channel is for comers and goers.

- Not long ago I found a group of fans of Ukrainian radio in a social network, created by young people. Participants of the group recall old presenters and programs, discuss dying cablecasting...Does the National Radio Company have programs for the audience over 20?

- We do. We take into account themes interesting for younger generation, but let's be honest - nobody works for the audience over 20, as it is not profitable - the nation is getting old.

- Do young specialists willingly come to work to NRCU?

- Young specialists come working here when they are still studying in the Institute of journalism. We have enough young workers, as we understand that if we do not take them, there will be no future for the Ukrainian radio - younger generation must replace the older one, and our task is to teach and train young specialists to be worthy replacement.

- What projects are you working on now?

- We never stop working on new projects. Do not forget that National Radio Company produces hundreds of various programs. Moreover, we realize not only radio projects. Not long ago, jointly with the European broadcasting union, NRCU organized European jazz orchestra with participation of Ukrainian composer and director Ihor Stetsyuk and pandore player Heorhiy Matviiv. European tour and two concerts in Kyiv were success. Ukrainian jazz music was taken as a new discovery. TV radio program "Art stories" is ready for broadcast, and "History of Christian Church" radio stories are almost finished - we have prepared more than 100 episodes. For the Day of Ukrainian writing and language we will conduct traditional All-Ukrainian dictation.

We also plan to record in better quality the best theatrical plays. Now we are filling our website with NRCU back files for people, including children who do not like reading much, to listen to the best works in proper performance.  

- What about technical equipment? Do you have enough?

-  I don't know such broadcaster, which has enough equipment or thinks it has enough. It's been long time we had investments into hardware, but we try to cash on advertisements and commercials. However, we cannot update air server and its software, for example, but we do not give up and keep doing what we can. For example, we have finished reconstruction works in the sound-recording house.

- Tell us about cooperation with foreign broadcasters.

- Cooperation with foreign broadcasters enables Ukrainian radio to come forward with interesting programs and broadcast them worldwide. We work with Russian and Belorussian colleagues, as well as with European partners - the Portuguese, Spanish, Italians, Bulgarians, Estonians and many others. We get on well and always help each other you can say it is real European integration.

- Today we celebrate the Day of radio, TV and communication worker. What is true radio worker, in your opinion?

- It's a difficult question. It's all about journalism, and radio or TV are just specifications. Many factors can influence the quality and an excuse can always be found. However, journalism is an art of impossible, and a journalist is either a thinking person able to reach epigrammatic level or a lightweight worker, meaning nobody.

Anastasia Pika, photos by Viktor Kovalchuk


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