Slovenian #RDgrantee ‘Migrant Voices’ interviews Slovenian prime minister

1. What is your idea about?

At Radio Študent Ljubljana we believe that being an actor in media means having power to be seen or heard, power to be visible. That is why it is important for media to reflect the (cultural, ethnic, political, gender...) plurality which can be found in the actual society we live in. Since refugees today represent an important, but also vulnerable and silenced part of our society, they should have an opportunity to represent themselves in media instead of being represented by others. That is why we decided to establish a refugee broadcast hosted by the refugees and asylum seekers at our radio. Having their own radio show enables the refugees in Slovenia to be creative, express their opinions, present their cultures, tell their personal stories, explain the situations in their home countries and so on. For us the importance of this action lies in the combat against the dominant representations of the refugees in the mass media which are mostly characterized by homogenization, generalization, victimization or spreading fear regarding the refugees.

photo by Migrant Voices

photo by Migrant Voices

2. How did your participation in the Idea Camp help you transform your idea into an effective project?

Idea Camp mostly provoked me to think about my target groups, especially the refugee target groups. It helped me to re-think my approach in the personal interaction with refugees when reaching to the potential hosts of the show. It also helped me to think outside of the box regarding the reception of the broadcast, especially regarding the problem of preaching to the choir, which is something that I kept in mind during the whole project.

3. What difficulties do you face in implementing your project? What do you see as the main obstacles?

In the beginning of our project we had several challenges. First one was finding candidates for the pilot trainings. After we presented our project idea to many different groups of refugees, we got some of them interested in the opportunity to host a radio show. However, the refugees and asylum seekers are in difficult existential situations and their situations are constantly changing, which made it hard for us to motivate them and especially maintain their interest in visiting the radio trainings. Conceptualization of the broadcast presented another challenge since there were a lot differences among the trainees: in their education, interests, age, status, country of origin … Soon we learned that the cultural approach to the show will not be adequate in this case. However the trainees shared a common experience of being a refugee, going through the asylum process and facing similar challenges in their host country – Slovenia. They showed mutual interest in the political aspects of migrations, asylum laws, the sociopolitical situation of the refugees in Slovenia and especially the integration procedures in their host country. It was also interesting how their focus regarding the listeners turned out to be different than we expected. They have a great interest in informing other refugees and asylum seekers on certain challenges they might face while staying in Slovenia and they aim to provide them with some useful information. We also learned that the people staying at the asylum home gather together to listen to the show when it is aired, which means that the show reaches its target group. This is good to hear.

4. How do you see the further development of your idea in the future?

For the future we are hoping for an international breakthrough. We have already established some connections with the hosts of migrant radio broadcast in other European countries and we are discussing the possibilities of program exchange - for example with Refugee Radio from Brighton, England and Migration Heute, Oldenburg, Germany. Also we might benefit from some international media attention for Slovenia because Melania Trump was born here. More importantly, our content can travel internationally. Our journalist Ahmed Shihab Hammood carried out an interview with our prime minister Miro Cerar. The English interview got many shares on social media, mostly Twitter, and provoked diverse reactions, mostly positive, others xenophobic.

We see another possible development in including more refugee and migrant women in the production of the broadcast. At the moment there is one girl out of four authors of the show, but others have already showed interest in radio production. One of them will join the group as soon as she finishes her training. We think it is very important for refugee women to become more visible, since it the mainstream media they are usually forgotten or portrayed in the passive positions. More women hosting a migrant radio broadcast could help change this image.