SOCIETY

Something in the air: Greece’s first volunteer radio station

The Municipality of Thessaloniki recently launched Greece?s first ever Volunteers Radio (Radiofono ton Ethelonton) on the 100.6 FM frequency. Taking part in the new radio station?s programming are schools, the Thessaloniki Labor Center, the city?s Commerce Association, the Chamber of Commerce, municipalities and communities of the broader area, the Pedestrians Association, the Thessaloniki YMCA, the Thessaloniki State Orchestra, the Thessaloniki Concert Hall, the city?s Goethe Institute and British Council, the American Consulate and a variety of local volunteer networks. All together, they are sending the message that there?s something fresh going on in town.  

Volunteers Radio aired for the first time in late November, when a group of pupils from the 1st Hortiatis High School presented poetry set to music. The new radio station?s coordinators have already received a vast number of applications from others who wish to have their voices heard on the weekly programs. They also understand that when something new and innovative comes along, it is often treated with a certain level of reluctance.

?This radio experiment is taking place for the first time both in terms of municipal and city airwaves,? said Filios Stangos, a journalist and general manager of Thessaloniki?s municipal media department.

The 100.6 FM frequency is the Municipality of Thessaloniki?s second frequency, following FM-100 (and the TV-100 television channel). For a number of years, the frequency was used by a local radio station focusing on cultural issues. Staffed by municipal employees, the station had long lost its spark.  

?Our aim is to now hand this frequency to the citizens of Thessaloniki,? said Sofia Aslanidou, deputy manager of the city?s municipal media department. ?This is why our motto is ?Akous ti foni sou? [You?re listening to your voice]. We are focusing our efforts on two sectors, culture and education-science.?

Also participating in the new radio effort are the municipalities of Kalamaria, Oreokastro and Thermaikos, while as far as local schools go, Aslanidou noted that teachers are also being given an opportunity to present their educational work.

On a technical level, the volunteers are counting on the support of the Thessaloniki Municipality, while a board has also been established. The board, which includes a journalist, is responsible for going through the scripts of shows which have been submitted. In the evenings, the program will be largely based on music selected by amateur volunteer radio producers.

?There will be no political shows and certainly no advertisements,? noted Stangos. Politics and news are covered by the municipal radio station FM-100, while the board in charge of programming intends to be particularly strict with anyone who attempts to promote specific business or political interests.

Speaking to Kathimerini, Stangos noted that the new radio project is an experiment.

?Its success is not a given, there are plenty of things that can go wrong, ranging from the unrealiability of those who have signed up for shows all the way to the dangers stemming from those who might see this as an opportunity to promote all sort of interests. There is risk involved, but we will go on with the experiment,? he noted.  

The city of Thessaloniki is no novice as far as experimenting and risk taking are concerned. After all, this is where Christos Tsiggiridis transmitted the country?s first ever radio program in 1926.