SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Hercegovina — From rags to riches.
This is the story of Radio Stari Grad, one of the country’s first private radio stations, which launched in February 1993 in the midst of a war that was characterized by bitter fighting and ethnic cleansing.
Senka Kurt, RSG Radio program editor-in-chief, left, with guest Jovan Divjak. In its early days the station expended a signal that could barely reach beyond the borders of the capital Sarajevo. It is now an accomplished nationwide broadcaster, covering this heart-shaped country from north to south, east to west.
As one of the most recognizable radio brands in the country today, the RSG Group prides itself on being the only privately owned radio broadcaster in Bosnia and Hercegovina with two individual radio stations: RSG 1 Sarajevo and RSG Radio.
When it began, the group’s single station exclusively targeted the citizens of the Sarajevo Canton. But in April 1999 the group decided to take a giant step forward and opened a second station. RSG changed its name to RSG 1 Sarajevo and continued to broadcast to the Sarajevo area at 90.9 on the FM dial. Newcomer sister station RSG Radio then began broadcasting to the rest of the country.
Zvonimir Ðukić-Ðule from the rock group Van Gogh, left, and Emir Bukovica from the rock group Frozen Camels. Listeners can tune in to RSG Radio at 104.3 in Sarajevo and the surrounding areas of Mostar, Čapljina, Bugojno, Tuzla, Travnik and Goražde. They can also listen to RSG Radio at 97.5 in Zenica; 88.4 in Bihać, 87.7 in Trebinje; and 92.6 in Neum.
A total of 13 transmitters carry the signals of both stations, with the strongest transmitter located on top of Mount Bjelašnica (2,067 meters above sea level). The transmitters cover the Sarajevo Canton, Srednjebosanska (central-Bosnia), the Hercegovačko-neretvansko Canton, the Zeničko-dobojsko Canton and even parts of Southeast Bosnia in the Republic of Srpska.
“The only city where our signal cannot be picked up is Banjaluka in the north of the country,” said Adis Kadrić, RSG Group CEO.
As regards the difference between the two stations, Kadrić explains that RSG 1 Sarajevo targets 18- to 49-year-olds, while RSG Radio targets those 35 to 60.
“RSG 1 Sarajevo reaches out to a younger audience, airing an urban and pop music format; whereas RSG Radio features a heavier mix of Ex-Yu music and local information, catering to an older audience,” he said.
Both stations broadcast around the clock with locally relevant information and news programs on the hour as well as their own morning, afternoon and evening shows. On RSG 1 Sarajevo, “Sarajevski Vijesti” (“Sarajevo News”) runs on the hour from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday and focuses on local news and service information.
Since the capital has a lot to offer in terms of music, sports, fairs and cultural events, RSG 1 Sarajevo concentrates on informing its urban listeners about these activities. In 2010, for example, the station dedicated 12,000 minutes of programming to cultural and sports events, many of which it supported as a sponsor, including the Sarajevo Film Festival.
RSG Radio airs news hourly specific to its coverage areas. It also broadcasts a program called “Slobodna Evropa” (“Radio Free Europe”) weekdays at 3 and 6 p.m. and weekends at 3 p.m. The backbone of the station’s programming, however, is the “RSG Danas” (“RSG Today”) infotainment show, which airs weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The two stations also share a few shows including the weekend “Coca Cola World Chart Show” and the “Telematch Sport Show.”
The expansion of the RSG group has also led to a visible expansion of its workforce. RSG 1 and RSG each have four journalists, one editor-in-chief and a number of hosts. Staff produces news, infotainment and music programs for each station. In total there are some 35 full-time employees.
“One of the main problems we face in Bosnia is that it is very hard to find qualified staff that can meet professional expectations,” said Kadrić. “So, we always pay great attention to educating our employees internally and also by sending them to as many media and marketing seminars as possible.”
Senka Kurt with journalists from TV1. Each station is equipped with its own on-air studio using a Studer OnAir 500 digital mixing console working with a pair of Alesis M1 active monitors, Jazler RadioStar 2.6.4 automation software and a dozen Electro-Voice RE20 mics.
The main production studio is located one floor below the on-air studios and is fitted with a Steinberg WaveLab 6 audio and editing suite, Sound Forge Pro 10.0 software and Adobe Audition 3.0 software, KRK Systems Rokit 5 monitors, Focusrite Saffire 6 audio interface and a Røde NT1 mic.
An in-house marketing and production agency, Netra, sells ad space for both stations. Advertising spots do not exceed the legally allowed 20 percent of total programming and mostly come from medium-sized or bigger companies working in the areas of telecommunications, banks and consumer-goods industry.
Apart from having a competitive edge in terms of offering nationwide coverage, the latest market research, the Mareco Index Bosnia and Hercegovina for October 2011, showed that the RGS Group is the market leader in Sarajevo with 25 percent of the pie. The group holds second position nationwide.
“The density of radio stations on FM here in Bosnia is very high, but recently we have noted that only the most competitive ones are gaining market momentum,” said Kadrić. “The market here however is much smaller than that in Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia, and I predict that only the strongest can survive in such a tiny market environment.”
The RSG Group with its two successful stations may just be the one.
Tayfun Kesgin reports for Radio World International from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Hercegovina.