|An Orthodox chapel within the premises of the BNR.|
We went to visit the Bulgarian National Radio on one of our networking days. The government-funded media giant has got four major radio channels (national, international), as well as eight regional ones across Bulgaria.
Around 1480 people are currently employed by the BNR - most of them at one of the two headquarter buildings in Sofia, others as regional correspondents. (To put the figures into context, there are around 7.3 million people currently living in Bulgaria, so the BNR staff would account for a 0.02 percent of the population).
The two national channels are Horizont and Hristo Botev. The first one specialises in news, comments, interviews; between the spoken parts it plays contemporary popular music. Horizont is the most popular radio in Bulgaria, and is often considered the least biased.
Radio Hristo Botev, named after a famous poet and revolutionary, is a high brow cultural channel. On the menu are classical music programmes, concerts, radio theatre plays, cultural news.
The Bulgarian National Radio since its very beginnings has been a promoter of cultural activities in Bulgaria. It has got a record studio that has been helping the less commercially-successful musicians (classical, jazz, folk) to publish their work, a radio theatre, a children's choir, a symphony orchestra, even a big band. The BNR's legendary first director Sirak Skitnink (an 'Orphan Wanderer', real name Panaiot Todorov Hristov, 1883-1943) was a poet and painter himself.
To give the 78-year-old BNR a modern twist, an innovative internet radio channel Binar was started in 2012 (my colleague Sarah did a post about Binar's one-year birthday party earlier in July). The music Binar plays is contemporary, both popular one and one drifting towards indie. Binar is a bit more than traditional radio as it also plays videos (of interviews in the studio; music clips) on its website.
Finally, the BNR's fourth major channel is the international Radio Bulgaria. This one is aimed at promoting Bulgarian culture around the world and informing about happenings in Bulgaria. As one would expect from an international channel, Radio Bulgaria has got information in eleven languages. Similarly to Binar, the latter channel is internet-based and has got multimedia (images, sounds, videos) on its website.
Among the regional channels, Radio Sofia informs about what is happening in & around the Bulgarian capital; the other cities covered by regional radio channels include Plovdiv, Varna, Bourgas, Stara Zagora, among others.
|At the BNR's radio theatre studio.|
|The foyer of the BNR building in Sofia.|
|Mocking a radio show at Binar's studio.|
|A decree from 1935 announcing the start of Bulgarian National Radio. A radio station initiated by a group of enthusiasts several years earlier was nationalised by Tsar Boris III.|