(Prague) “Here is Radio Ukraine”.
Posted on April 2
A new online radio station in Prague has started broadcasting news, information and music tailored to meet the daily needs of the 300,000 refugees who have arrived in the Czech Republic since Russia launched its military offensive in Ukraine.
In a studio in the heart of the Czech capital, radio veterans work with newcomers to the profession to teach refugees what they need to know to make settling in a new country as easy as possible.
The staff consists of about ten people who have fled Ukraine in recent weeks as well as Ukrainians who have been living abroad for years. Their common goal is to help their fellow Ukrainians and their homeland in the face of the Russian invasion that has been going on for more than a month.
Natalia Churikova, an experienced journalist for Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, based in Prague, explained that she could not refuse the offer to become the channel’s editor-in-chief.
“This is for my people, for people who really need help and support, something that will help them start a new life or start over here after a bad experience while trying to escape from it.” Ukraine, said mr.me Churikova.
In her team, Sofia Tatomir is one of those who fled to escape the war.
The 22-year-old from the western town of Kalush was planning to move to another city in Ukraine when a friend called her one morning to tell her the war had just begun.
Her parents and older brother chose to stay in their native country, but they wanted Sofia to join her aunt in Prague.
I took a bus alone in Chernice and arrived 28 hours later in the Czech capital, a city I had never visited.
“When I got outside, I remember crying and trying to buy a ticket and couldn’t spell the ticket I needed. It was really hard,” she said.
Sofia Tatomir worked as a graphic designer and singer in Ukraine, but broadcasting was part of her university studies. To his surprise, his aunt’s brother found an advertisement for jobs for a new Ukrainian radio station.
“It is the best way to help our people, to help Ukraine. This is how I see it,” she said.
Safely in Prague, she was still trying to come to terms with the conquest of her homeland.
“It’s terrible. I still can’t find a logical explanation for what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. In the 21st century, a war? Why? We were a peaceful nation that just lived its life.”
Another presenter, Marharyta Golobrodska, was working as a copywriter for a software company when she got a call from Mme Churikova, whom she knew from an internship at Radio Free Europe.
“I used to think people getting up early to get ready for work from 6 a.m. were crazy, but that’s what I do now and I really like it,” said the lady.me Golobrodska. “This is what I have always wanted to do, to be useful to my country, even though I live very far away.”
For 12 hours every weekday – and 11am on weekends – Radio Ukraine plays Ukrainian and Western music while showing news from Ukraine and the Czech Republic and information on refugees every 15 minutes. It provides details about where they can get the documents they need from local authorities, how to get a job or get medical care, or the process for sending children to school. Young people can also listen to Ukrainian fairy tales here.
Originally from the city of Mykolaiv, Marharita Golobrodska has lived in the Czech Republic for eight and a half years. After the invasion of Ukraine, she travels to the west of her native country to meet her mother and 9-year-old sister and lead them to safety. In Prague, she involved them in her show.
Bohemia Media, which operates several radio stations in the Czech Republic, came up with the idea of launching this station. He provided a studio and his people collaborated with the Ukrainian Embassy, the local Ukrainian community and others to make this a reality in just three weeks. It also covers wages.
Lukas Nadvornik, owner of Mediapark, a company that represents Bohemia Media, said the plan is for the station to stay on the air as long as possible. The main task at the moment is to make its existence known to as many potential listeners as possible.
One of them is Sophia Medvedeva. The 23-year-old web designer couldn’t hold back her tears when she talked about driving six days with her mother and younger brother from Mykolaiv to Krakow, Poland.
In Prague, she joined her fiancé and Radio Ukraine helped her adjust to her new life.
“I am very surprised that I have the opportunity to listen to Ukrainian music when I am not at home. I feel I am not alone,” she said. His only recommendation is to invite a psychologist to “advise Ukrainian refugees on how to combat surviving syndrome and depression.”