Linking Kosovo's Serb and Bosniak Communities Through Radio
For the first time in Kosovo, Serb and Bosniak radio stations share programming across their ethnic communities. On March 10, 2011 the Bosniak radio station Omega 3, based in the southern city of Prizren, established direct and live links with KOSMA, the Kosovo Serb network of five radio stations.
The Serb and Bosniak communities have tended to hold very different views of life in post-independence Kosovo with Bosniaks largely accepting the new republic and the Serbs rejecting it. Despite this difference of opinion over a very hot topic in the region, the two communities do share several commonalities, including language and the need for news about their communities, which are scattered throughout the Albanian-majority Kosovo. Out of a population of approximately two million there are perhaps 120,000 Serbs and around 40,000 Bosniaks. Reliable data will only come with the Kosovo census in 2011. “We cover around 90% of the Bosniak community in Kosovo,” says Omega 3’s owner Ramce Kasi. “Our new live link with the KOSMA stations will allow us to reach many of the remainder. We already re-broadcast Radio Free Europe’s news, so transmitting KOSMA’s nightly “Journal” program will add to the variety of output we offer our listeners.”
KOSMA is made up of stations in the main Serb communities in Kosovo: Radio Kontakt Plus in north Mitrovice, Radio Gorazdevac near Pec/Peja, Radio KIM in Caglavica near the capital Pristina, Radio Klokot near Gjilan and Radio Herc in Strpce, with occasional contributions from Radio Hit Laser in Pasjane.
Using Comrex broadcast Internet technology the Bosniak station and the Serb stations can exchange live and recorded news items as well as longer programs. In addition, all stations have mobile units, which allow them to broadcast live from anywhere with an Internet connection.
KOSMA’s Chairman, Darko Dimitrijevic, who is also executive director of Radio Gorazdevac, sees news-gathering advantages. “We need better coverage of Prizren for the network,” he says. “It’s an important community in Kosovo and we need to know more about what goes on there. Radio Omega 3 can give us that coverage”.
In this picture from left to right: Darko Dimitrijevic, KOSMA chairman; Branislav Krstic of IREX who developed these station links; Danielle Spinard and Albana Kusari, USAID; Ramce Kasi demonstrating the Comrex link; and Andrew Clayton, SIMM Chief of Party.