YEREVAN, Armenia — In 2004 Armenia’s public service radio broadcaster, Public Radio of Armenia, made a change to its programming.
Up until that time, the broadcaster, which began transmitting in 1926, when Armenia (located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe) was part of the Soviet Union, aired age-specific programs for all ages except the young. With three radio channels, it is the only radio in the country with national coverage.
When Armine Geghamyan, who formerly worked at the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Armenian’s youth program “Max Liberty” joined Public Radio of Armenia in 2004, she brought with her a new program “LyunSe” and a new way for the station to target younger audiences. The program’s tagline easily summarizes its philosophy — “Find your light not to become others’ shadow.”
LyunSe staff in the production studio — from left to right are
Syuzi Levonyan, Grigor Harutyunyan, Armine Geghamyan (the
program’s founder and chief editor), Ani Mosinyan and Gohar Adamyan.
“The main idea of the program is to encourage listeners to find oneself, raise one’s voice, to be heard by the people and the government and be a person living in — and for — his or her country,” said Gohar Adamyan, LyunSe journalist and editor. Lyun and Se are respectively names of the letters “l” and “s” in the Armenian alphabet. “Strange that in Armenian and English both ‘light’ and ‘shadow’ begin with the same letters, isn’t it?” she notes.
Now entering its 10th year, LyunSe currently airs 35 minutes a day from Monday to Saturday, broadcasting four to five programs on environmental, social, educational, sports and cultural issues.
“Our goal is to raise the voice of the youth, connecting them with young people from other countries,” said Adamyan. “Many European countries have more experience than us regarding economical and social issues.” With the onset of the Internet, LyunSe has gradually developed its concept to transition with the times. “Armenian people are increasingly migrating toward the Internet and it is becoming part of our life,” said Adamyan.
“We realized that if we didn’t change with our audience, we would lose them, particularly our main target group. So we started a blog,” she said. “Though it wasn’t a professional-level tool, it was the best we had. A website was our dream as we imagined it as our ideal platform but we just didn’t have the money.”
Gohar Adamyan carries out good luck
rituals before going live. Then, something unexpected happened, Adamyan continues — “We had the opportunity to join the European Broadcasting Union family as part of its Partnership Programme (EPP).”
The EPP was established in June 2009 to support member broadcasters facing political, financial, technical or other difficulties. It also allows professionals from EBU members who are facing limited resources or challenging political circumstances to apply for scholarships.
Adamyan applied for a scholarship and was selected. The EBU decided to help the station develop its project and build an Internet platform.
Adamyan then spent a month at the EBU headquarters in Geneva with EBU Specialist Matthew Trustram as her mentor. They designed the station’s website and built a business plan. The EBU media department endorsed the LyunSe project, which led to seed-funding and eventually the creation and launch of the website.
“I came back to Yerevan and started the development of the LyunSe website,” she said. “Matthew really helped me a lot, even after I returned to Armenia. Throughout the preparation and launch, he was always in contact with us to answer our questions.”
The station’s website (http://lyunse.com/) made its debut at the end of 2013 with a video wishing a Merry Christmas to the EBU member countries and announcing the new website.
The portal aggregates current affairs from youth radio programs across Europe, encouraging interaction through a set of specialized forum features. “We had been working for so long with no Internet space, and then suddenly we realized we were finally connected!” she said.
EBU Specialist Matthew Trustram (back, third from left)
visits with LyunSe staff at Public Radio of Armenia in Yerevan.
To his right is Gohar Adamyan; to his left are Armine
Geghamyan, Ani Mosinyan, Syuzi Levonyan and Meri Kalantaryan.
“We wanted to engage our audience and take advantage of our new tools, to become a multimedia provider, combining videos, photos, responding quickly to urgent subjects.”
The station started making videos but not as TV does, explains Adamyan. Our idea was to record pictures, details that set the mood of a situation. We like to give our audience a sense of what surrounds the area where the news is taking place, something that TV usually misses and can be more interesting than the main subject,” she said.
The station also invites people to contribute photos if they are near the location, write stories on the subject and post videos, as well as encouraging interaction with other subscribers.
“We don’t have a camera, just the recorder we use for the radio program and our cellphone,” she said. “Everything you see on the website is the result of our enthusiasm.”
Adamyan points out that they also have an English version of the website, and that they translate as many items as possible to get people’s attention from foreign countries.
“LyunSe stories are mainly Armenia-centric, focusing on the country’s various regions to inform the people and reconnect the areas,” Adamyan said. “Armenia is not as developed as the EU countries. There are still many people without a PC, Internet or television. They have just radio, that’s why it is still so important for us.”