Hromadske Radio spent a week in New York City and Washington, DC to connect with their US counterparts in public radio. Razom volunteers arranged the program and hosted the team, and the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv awarded Hromadske Radio a travel grant.
- To learn about financing, operations and management of public radio
- To exchange knowledge about radio journalism and multi-channel distribution
- To hear from donors (both organizations who support Hromadske Radio with grants as well as listeners who have supported this public radio through crowdfunding campaigns in the US)
- To experience (a bit of) America firsthand
Team from Hromadske Radio
Kyrylo Loukerenko, Editor-in-Chief
Oleksandr Buzyuk, Deputy Chairman of the Board
Viktoriia Yermolayeva, Journalist, Talk show presenter
Andriy Izdryk, Chief Sound Engineer
Anastasiia Bagalika, Journalist, Talk show presenter
Iryna Romaliiska, Journalist, Talk show presenter
Vitali Khomenko, Grant Manager
Each of the seven people on the trip have worked in commercial or state radio or television. They each left their jobs because they wanted to bring listeners the kind of professional journalism that does not appear on oligarch-controlled media in Ukraine. Hromadske Radio is a non-profit registered in Ukraine, founded by 15 individuals.
Every day they create and distribute radio programs that are aired over the radio and online.
During the trip, the team from Hromadske Radio visited two of the strongest public broadcasting organizations in the United States, New York Public Radio and National Public Radio, as well as a small public broadcaster in Brooklyn, and the federally-funded Voice of America in Washington, DC.
WBAI: a station that operates with even less than Hromadske Radio
WBAI is a community radio station now based in downtown Brooklyn. It is funded entirely by contributions from listeners; in addition, many of the on-air hosts are volunteers. Michael G. Haskins leads the station and is one of the few salaried employees. He told the team that he works at WBAI because he is able to investigate and report on themes he thinks are underreported in the US media , such as the question of reparations for the descendants of slaves. Haskins’ reporting on this issue included interviews with his father, who had grown up in the Jim Crow-era South, and was enthusiastically received by listeners.
The team from Hromadske Radio liked the idea of capturing voices of citizens, not leaders or politicians. We might hear some of these conversations from Ukraine streaming at hromadskeradio.org in the future.
WNYC: a well-funded producer of public radio programming
WNYC is on track to raise $75 million dollars in 2016. We sat down with the person responsible for bringing in that revenue: Margaret Hunt, Senior Vice President & Chief Revenue Officer of New York Public Radio (which includes WNYC and the classical music station WQXR). She told us how she works with the 350 people on staff to run listener drives, bring in sponsorships, and win grants from foundations.
Ilya Marritz, a journalist, at WNYC spoke with the team about how he goes on the air several times a year and, using scripts from Margaret’s team, asks listeners for money.
The effectiveness of the fundraising operations at WNYC was obvious when we met with editors and journalists and toured the 70-person newsroom, their studios as well as WNYC’s performance space.
Hromadske Radio has conducted three successful listener-centric fundraising drives to date. They hope to adopt some techniques of WNYC in future campaigns.
Meeting with ‘hromada’ in NYC and Washington D.C.
While in New York, the team went to the East Village to meet with people who have supported Hromadske Radio through the Razom crowdfunding drive at bit.ly/radioUkraine. Once everyone fueled up on Veselka’s delicious fried varenyky, Kyrylo and the team reported on the history of the organization, their current priorities and plans for the future.
Hormadske Radio editorial policy is to share content on topics that commercial radio stations do not cover, as well as to focus on human rights.
Earlier this year, an independent organization conducted a listener survey from Donbas. Results show that listener awareness of Hromadske Radio is approximately equal to that of other talk radio stations that have been on the air for much longer. Most of the radio stations in eastern Ukraine play only music.
During the Q&A and discussion, a participant asked if Hromadske Radio gets any interference from the government. Kyrylo answered that overall the government does not get in the way (‘уряд не заваджає працювати’ ). For example, Hromadske Radio was granted licenses to broadcast over 9 frequencies in Donbas, plus one in Kyiv. State radio also rents out studio space and office space to Hromadske Radio Kyiv for a fee. But, despite this, the team said, working in Ukraine is not easy. At least one of their frequencies is being jammed in the east from the occupied territories; and some regional-level leaders criticize the shows for not being pro-Ukrainian enough.
In Washington, the team was hosted by the US-Ukraine Foundation and to give an update and to have a discussion with the community.
Both conversations gave the team a deeper understanding of the Ukrainian-American community.
Exploring Washington: Voice of America (VOA) & Internews
Kyrylo gave a live interview for the Ukrainian-language news show from Voice of America about the trip. The team also arranged permission to use VOA materials in their programs and newscasts. At Internews Network, the international non-profit, the team gave an update on how they’ve expanded since implementing their grant that supports diverse media worldwide.
National Public Radio (NPR)
The team spent a full day at NPR, the premiere public radio news & information producer in the US, in their new purpose-built facility in downtown Washington, DC. They met with over a dozen NPR professionals.
As soon as they walked in the door, they started talking shop and did not stop until well after 7pm. NPR staff shared how they put together the morning show, round-the-clock news, the afternoon show and podcasts. Hromadske Radio journalists shared their perspectives on Ukraine with the top editors for Europe, the State Department and news. The journalists from Kyiv grilled the Investigations Team on how they get court documents, and saw how the Digital News Desk delivers information over social networks. Kyrylo, Oleksandr, and Vitalii met with the head fundraisers; Andrij disappeared for a while with a fellow sound engineer.
Hromadske Radio were like fish in water: working in the environment they are building in Ukraine.
Within a day of touching down at the airport in Kyiv, the team were on the air having a live conversation with their colleagues about their trip.
Click here to hear Hromadske Radio’s first impressions. (In Russian on the live show ‘Donbas Calling’)
Razom worked with Hromadske Radio on organizing this trip because it is in line with our priorities to:
Build Ukraine. Hromadske Radio produces 12 hours of original radio programming each day. The organization is building a lasting institution that adds valuable elements to the media diet of Ukrainian citizens.
Amplify voices from Ukraine around the world. Hromadske Radio journalists are sources of information for editors from the US. The next time a story about Ukraine draws international attention, an editor from NPR can call a new contact at Hromadske Radio for a lead. In addition, the trip enabled the Ukrainians of Hromadske Radio to experience the US firsthand and therefore be able to communicate more effectively with Americans in the future — not just in exposing the team to the English language, but to the culture of the media-heavy cities like New York and Washington.
Hromadske Radio is part of the Razom Partners Initiative.
Thank you to all the Razom volunteers and supporters who made this trip possible.
Thank you to everyone who shared their time, their food, their space and their money to make it possible for professionals from Ukraine to travel to the US and meet other members of their industry here.
In particular, we’d like to thank Veselka, Plast, US-Ukraine Foundation, NPR, WNYC, WBAI, VOA, Internews, Civic Hall for sharing their time. Nestor for picking up the team at the airport late at night. Anya and Tanya for keeping things smooth (and snapping pictures). Maryan, Vadym, Nestor, Slavik for all the photographs. Tania Chomiak-Salvi & Lucantonio Salvi for hosting a team dinner with a few guests. To Natalia S. for assembling this email, to Natalia H. for her exquisite editing.
Thank you to every donor who contributed to the crowdfunding campaign, particularly all the volunteers of the Hromadske Radio Razom (Project lead: Dora).
Together we are Ukraine.
- Participants do their jobs better. The Hromadske Radio team share what they learned and are successful in building the organization to grow its scale and impact while maintaining the underlying principles of journalistic integrity.
- Expand content for the radio and for the website of Hromadske Radio by licensing material from the US and collaborating with organizations to create new content.
- Amplify voices from Ukraine by introducing editors who cover Europe to people from Ukraine. These editors can now contact journalists from Hromadske Radio when they need to get information about events in Ukraine.
The true impact of the work can be assessed in the coming months. Will the team contact people they met in the US with follow up questions and ideas? Will Hromadske Radio be able to license content from NPR in Washington, DC to reprint on their site? Will the trip attendees share their passion for making and distributing high-quality radio shows and expand their capacity?
You can hear for yourself at hromadskeradio.org Listen.Think.