AP

New radio station helps Ukrainian refugees adapt in Prague

Apr 1, 2022, 11:13 PM | Updated: Apr 3, 2022, 12:45 pm

Natalia Churikova editor in chief of Radio Ukraine speaks at the studio in Prague, Czech Republic, ...

Natalia Churikova editor in chief of Radio Ukraine speaks at the studio in Prague, Czech Republic, Thursday, March 31, 2022. The new Prague-based internet radio has started to broadcast news, information and music tailored to address the day-to-day needs and worries of some 300,000 refugees who have arrived in the Czech Republic after Russia launched its military assault against Ukraine. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

(AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

PRAGUE (AP) — This is Radio Ukraine calling.

A new Prague-based internet radio station has started to broadcast news, information and music tailored to the day-to-day concerns of some 300,000 Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in the Czech Republic since Russia launched its military assault against Ukraine.

In a studio at the heart of the Czech capital, radio veterans work together with absolute beginners to provide the refugees with what they need to know to settle as smoothly as possible in a new country.

The staff of 10 combines people who have fled Ukraine in recent weeks with those who have been living abroad for years. No matter who they are, their common goal is to help fellow Ukrainians and their homeland facing the brutal Russian invasion.

Natalia Churikova, an experienced journalist with Prague-based Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, said she couldn’t say no to an offer to become the broadcaster’s editor-in-chief.

“It was for my people. For people who really needed help, who really needed support, something that would help them start a new life or restart their lives here after they have lived through very bad things trying to escape from Ukraine,” Churikova said.

Staffer Sofia Tatomyr is one of those who left to escape the war. The 22-year-old from the western town of Kalush was making plans to move to another city in Ukraine when a friend called one morning: “Sofia, the war has just begun.”

Her parents and older brother opted to stay home, but they wanted her to join her aunt in Prague.

“It happened all of a sudden,” she said. She boarded a bus alone in Cherniutsi and arrived 28 hours later in the Czech capital, a city she’d never visited.

“When I was already abroad, I remember the moment that I was crying and I was trying to buy a ticket and I couldn’t spell what ticket I need. It was really difficult,” she said.

Tatomyr worked as graphic designer and singer in Ukraine after getting a degree as a publisher and media editor. Radio broadcasting was part of her university training. To her surprise, her aunt’s brother found an announcement about jobs for a new Ukrainian radio station.

She said she needed “some time to understand that not everybody can be at the frontline at the war and everybody has to do what he or she can do the best.”

“So this is how I’m cheering myself up: That I’m doing my profession, that I’m doing what I can do the best, and this is the best way I can help our people, I can help Ukraine,” she said.

Safe in Prague, she was still trying to come to terms with the invasion of her homeland.

“It’s horrible,” she said. “I can’t still find any 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.”

Another announcer, Marharyta Golobrodska, 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.

“I used to consider those who get up early to be ready to work from 6 a.m. crazy, but that’s what I do now and I thoroughly enjoy it,” Golobrodska said. “That’s what I always wanted to do, to be helpful for my country, even though I live so far away.”

For 12 hours each weekday — and 11 hours on weekends — Radio Ukraine plays Ukrainian and western music while presenting news of Ukraine and the Czech Republic together with information for refugees every 15 minutes. It includes details about where they can get the documents they need from local authorities, how to get a job or medical treatment, or how to find a place for children at schools. Children can also listen to Ukrainian fairy tales.

A native of the southern city of Mykolaiv, Golobrodska has lived in the Czech Republic for eight-and-a-half years. After the invasion, she traveled to western Ukraine to meet her mother and 9-year-old sister and drive them to safety. In Prague, she got them involved in her broadcast.

“My mum, for example, told me she’d like to hear what she’s not supposed to do here. For example, that she can’t park the car anywhere she wants to, like in Ukraine,” she said.

Bohemia Media, which operates several radio stations in the Czech Republic, came up with the idea to launch the station. It provided a studio and its people cooperated with the Ukrainian embassy, the local Ukrainian community and others to make it reality in just three weeks. It also covers the salaries.

Lukas Nadvornik, the director of the project, said the plan is for the station to remain on air as long as it’s needed. The key task for now is to let as many potential listeners as possible know about its existence.

One of them is Sophia Medvedeva. The 23-year-old web designer couldn’t hold back tears as she talked about the recent six-day drive with her mother and younger brother from Mykolaiv to Krakow, Poland.

But in Prague, she joined her fiance and Radio Ukraine helped her adapt to a new life.

“I’m so amazed about the chance to listen to Ukrainian music when I’m not in my homeland. I feel that I’m not alone,” she said. Her only recommendation for it is to invite a psychologist to “advise Ukrainian refugees about how to fight the survivor syndrome and how to fight depression.”

___

Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Israeli Embassy...

Associated Press

US airman dies after setting himself ablaze outside Israeli Embassy in Israel-Hamas war protest

An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force has died after he set himself ablaze outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

16 hours ago

Biden and Trump to visit Mexico border Thursday immigration...

Associated Press

Biden and Trump both plan trips to the Mexico border Thursday, dueling for advantage on immigration

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will make dueling trips to the U.S-Mexico border on Thursday.

17 hours ago

Arizona and New York attorneys feud over extraditing suspect...

Associated Press

Why Alvin Bragg and Rachel Mitchell are fighting over extraditing suspect in New York hotel killing

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says she isn't into extraditing a suspect due to her lack of faith in Manhattan’s top prosecutor.

5 days ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018. A 34-year-old Color...

Associated Press

Colorado man dies after being bitten by pet Gila monster

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death by one of the desert lizards if the creature's venom turns out to have been the cause.

6 days ago

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

13 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

New radio station helps Ukrainian refugees adapt in Prague