A new Prague-based Internet radio station has begun broadcasting news, information and music designed for the daily concern of the nearly 300,000 refugees who have arrived in the Czech Republic since Russia launched its military offensive against Ukraine.
In a studio in the center of the Czech capital, Radio Veterans works closely with newcomers to provide refugees with what they need to know to settle in a new country as seamlessly as possible.
10’s staff has been gathering people who have fled Ukraine in recent weeks and are living abroad for years. Whatever they may be, their common goal is to help fellow Ukrainians and their country face a brutal Russian attack.
Natalia Churikova, a veteran journalist at Prague-based Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, says she couldn’t resist the offer to become the broadcaster’s editor-in-chief.
“It was for my people, who really needed help, who really needed help, something that helped them to start a new life or to try to escape from Ukraine, to get their lives back here after living through a very bad situation. Will, “Churikova said. .
Staffer Sophia Tatomir is one of those who survived the war. A 22-year-old man from the western city of Kalush was planning to move to another Ukrainian city when a friend called one morning: “Sophia, the war has just begun.”
Her parents and older brother preferred to stay at home, but they wanted her to join her aunt in Prague.
“It just happened,” he said. He boarded a bus alone to Cherniutsi and arrived 28 hours later in the Czech capital, a city he had never visited.
“When I was already abroad, I remembered the moment when I was crying and I was trying to buy a ticket and I couldn’t spell out what ticket I would need. It was really hard, ”he said.
After earning a degree as a publisher and media editor, Tatomi worked as a graphic designer and singer in Ukraine. Radio broadcasting was part of his course at the university. To her surprise, her cousin found an announcement about a job for a new Ukrainian radio station.
He said he needed “some time to understand that not everyone can be at the forefront of the war and that everyone must do what they can.”
“So I’m invigorating myself that I’m doing my job, doing what I can, and that the best way I can help our people is to help Ukraine. That’s how I’m thinking about it,” he said.
Safe in Prague, he is still trying to come to terms with his homeland attack.
“It’s terrible,” he said. “I still can’t find a logical explanation for what they are doing and why they are doing it. Which war in the twenty-first century? Why? We were a peace-loving nation, just living our lives. “
Another announcer, Marharita Golbrodska, was working as a copywriter for a software company when she received a call from Churikova, whom she knew from an internship at Radio Free Europe.
“People who wake up early in the morning think it’s crazy to get ready for work, but I do it now and I enjoy it to the fullest,” Golbrodska said. “That’s what I’ve always wanted to do, to be helpful to my country, even though I’m far away.”
Radio Ukraine plays Ukrainian and Western music 12 hours a week – and 11 hours a weekend – while Ukraine and the Czech Republic present news together, information for refugees every 15 minutes. It includes details on where they can get the documents they need from the local authorities, how to get a job or medical treatment, or how to find a place for children at school. Children can hear the stories of Ukrainian fairy tales.
Golbrodska, a resident of the southern city of Mykolaiv, has lived in the Czech Republic for eight and a half years. After the attack, he traveled to western Ukraine to visit his mother and 9-year-old sister and drive them safely. In Prague, he was involved in their broadcasting.
“For example, my mother told me she wanted to hear what she shouldn’t do here. For example, she can’t park her car anywhere in Ukraine,” he said.
Bohemia Media, which operates several radio stations in the Czech Republic, came up with the idea of launching the station. It provided a studio and its people collaborated with the Ukrainian embassy, the local Ukrainian community and others to make it a reality within three weeks. It also covers salaries.
Lucas Nadvornik, owner of Mediapark, a company representing Bohemia Media, said the station was planned to be broadcast as long as needed. For now, the main task is to inform as many listeners as possible about its existence.
One of them is Sophia Medvedev. The 23-year-old web designer could not hold back his tears as he talked with his mother and younger brother about the recent six-day drive from Mykolive to Krakow, Poland.
But in Prague, she joins her fianc and Radio Ukraine helps her adapt to a new life. “I was very surprised to hear Ukrainian music when I was not in my homeland. I feel like I’m not alone, “he said. Her only recommendation for this is to invite a psychologist to “advise Ukrainian refugees on how to fight Survivor Syndrome and how to combat depression.”