Radio Bulgaria has been Bulgaria’s voice in the world for almost seventy years. Radio Bulgaria’s team of journalists, working in its eleven language editions, have undertaken the mission of conveying an objective image of Bulgaria, its ancient culture and its people. As they themselves put it “…our priority is to place Bulgaria in focus – with its international standing, political landscape, but also with its ordinary people and their problems.�? As a result Radio Bulgaria is the primary source of information for foreign audiences on the political, social, economic, cultural and sports life in the country. It broadcasts on short and medium wave in Bulgarian, English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Serbian, Greek, Albanian and Turkish to nations around the world.
The Bulgarian national radio (BNR) started broadcasting in 1937. Two years later it launched programs in 4 languages called “Special programs for some European countries.�? Today the international service is called Radio Bulgaria. It remained on the air during communism and in the turbulent years at the end of the 80s – beginning of the 90s. During this transition period it started reporting on the reform efforts in the country and played an important part in portraying Bulgaria’s new image as a democracy. Today, the radio is working towards Bulgaria’s Euro-Atlantic future by disseminating daily information on Bulgaria’s accomplishements in its political, economic and social environment since 1989. The radio has served as an important instrument for contributing to the country’s EU integration, its growing investment rates, and its image as a preferred cultural and health tourism destination throughout Europe.
Radio Bulgaria’s audience, however, extends beyond the EU and spans millions of listeners from all over the world. Audience feedback is a clear testimony of the radio’s impact and role for building up the image of Bulgaria across the world and winning numerous friends for the country: “It’s always been a genuine treat to receive one of your fascinating QSL-cards , featuring pictures of Bulgarian cities, resorts or historical sites. Many of your QSLs we have donated to the City Library so that readers could get to know more about Bulgaria�?; “Through you I’ve learned so much about your country. I am delighted with the wonderful way you bring across the history, culture and traditions of your country�?; “I appreciate highly the information Radio Bulgaria has been offering on events in Europe and mostly so in Eastern Europe. The Spanish section of your radio has been like an axis spanning Latin America and Eastern Europe. […] Another fascinating feature has been the essential information on the time-honored traditions of the Slav peoples, the culture, music and folklore. Bulgaria is projected to join a united Europe and Radio Bulgaria has its salient room in the overall context of bringing distant nations together�?.
The Radio is also developing new versions of its original website in eleven languages (Bulgarian, English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Serbian, Greek, Albanian, Turkish and Arabic), in order to meet the challenges of the 21st century. In its first year online, the national radio site http://www.bnr.bg has earned several awards, including Site of 2004 at the Web Festival held within the framework of the International Media Events forum, and both prizes in the News Category of the most prestigious Bulgarian Web Contest, BG Site 2004. Radio Bulgaria’s website supplies millions of users world-wide with up-to-date home and international information. It features top news of the day and news categories on all aspects of life in the country. Programing includes reporting on Bulgaria’s European future, Economy, Politics, Life in Bulgaria, History and Religion, Culture, Folklore, Music and others. Thus, the international service is now projecting Bulgaria to the world in text, sound and image.
The journalists working on the multilingual program envision their public mission as “opinion makers.�? Raina Konstantinova, Director of the Radio Department of the European Broadcasting Union in Geneva, underscores this point: “This [Radio Bulgaria] is an expression of an important national responsibility. There aren’t many small countries that have preserved so many languages in their programs. This is of special importance for Radio Bulgaria for many reasons. Bulgaria is very rarely in the headlines of the press, all the more so that papers are not read to such an extent any more. In fact the leading media nowadays is the Internet, and the merger between Radio and Internet is now almost complete. I cannot say whether 11 languages are many or few for a country like Bulgaria. On the one hand we can say they are never enough. On the other hand - it all depends on finding the strategically maximum number of ways of bringing the BNR’s programs to the world. I think that the union between Radio Bulgaria and the Internet is something great. Experts say it is one of the best formats of Internet Radio in Central and Eastern Europe. It provides a vivid, interesting, constantly changing dynamic vision with wonderful multi-media effects. The greater the access, the more the technical ways of presenting the real Bulgaria – a dynamic country where many interesting changes are taking place. It is the role and the responsibility of Radio Bulgaria to do this very job. […] In Bulgaria when we talk of the BNR we say The Radio with a capital R, and that is not just because of its history and what it has given society, but above all for what it has in store for the future�?.
Bulgarian President Parvanov summarizes the function of the radio today as the following: “I still think it is an important medium, just like 70 years ago – then in 4 languages, and today in many more. Well, today we have many more things to say, haven’t we? And Radio Bulgaria performs this mission quite well.�?
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