Laying foundations for community radio in Central Asia

26 November 2007

You are in the remarkable position of writing the media history of your own country, said Tarja Virtanen, UNESCO Representative to Kyrgyzstan, speaking to the staff collective of Radiomost on the final day of a UNESCO-sponsored training workshop on community radio.

I learned a lot about what community radio means and how we can implement it here in Talas

Nazira Zhusupova, Radiomost Community Radio

The first radio service of its kind in Central Asia, Radiomost is located in Talas, a relatively remote mountain valley in northwest Kyrgyzstan. The station has been broadcasting since July 2007.

The weeklong workshop, led by a leading community radio expert Ian Pringle (Canada) with the stations adviser Bettina Ruigies as his co-trainer, ended 15 November 2007 on a positive note with participants ready to tackle the challenges being the regions first community station with increased knowledge and confidence.

I learned a lot about what community radio means and how we can implement it here in Talas, said Nazira, a local broadcast journalist who runs radio programmes on local cultural programming and legal issues.

The name Radiomost, literally Radiobridge in Russian, the lingua franca of the region, is a reference to the stations aim to bridge the local information gap and to promote dialogue and mutual understanding. Radiomost has also given itself a mandate to promote positive messages and new ideas, ambitions clearly embodied in its young, dynamic team of broadcasters and organizers.

The UNESCO workshop focused on how principles of community radio like access and participation can be best realized in Talas, a remote area with a sparse local media landscape, a small economy and high unemployment.

Radiomost Community Radio Staff, Talas, Kyrgyzstan UNESCO Almaty

Over the course of a week, the stations staff collective, mostly students, charted a judicious course for Radiomost, including a set of basic principles, the outline of a strategic plan and policies concerning music and advertising. A major achievement for the collective was the drafting of a code of practice and policy for programming during elections, which will take place in Kyrgyzstan in one month, the stations co-ordinator and one of its founding members Gulmira Osmonova concluded.

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