Istanbul radio station Açık Radyo: A forum for diverse voices

Analysis, posted 03.06.2011, from Turkey, in:

Monday morning, just before 8 am. The megacity that is Istanbul is waking from its slumber. Things are already bustling in the small studio broadcasting Açık Radyo, or "Open Radio". Presenters Ömer Madra and Avi Haligua are discussing the day's headlines.

Several suspects in the Ergenekon case have just been arrested. The trial against the underground group accused of trying to overthrow the government has held Turkey in suspense for years now. As well as numerous members of the military, a number of well-known journalists are in detention. "The Turkish state doesn't always act according to the rule of law," Ömer Madra comments on the ongoing investigation.

The main emphasis of news coverage at Açık Radyo is on human rights and environmental issues. "We're not saying we're objective. But we're always on the side of the weak!" says Ömer Madra.

The white-haired 65-year-old is wearing jeans and trainers. He's Turkey's best-known environmental activist and human rights expert. He's been running the Istanbul station for 15 years, and it now enjoys cult status among intellectuals. The broadcaster provides them with information they wouldn't otherwise receive from regular news reports.

The programme makers maintain close links with non-governmental organisation and civil rights campaigners across the country, and therefore receive first-hand information.

Independence from big media concerns

On this particular Monday morning for example, the editorial office receives an email from the Black Sea coast. An environmental activist reports that police beat him up at a peaceful demonstration. He had been collecting signatures against a planned hydroelectric power plant.
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Claudia Hennen

© 2011 

Translated from the German by Nina Coon

Editor: Lewis Gropp/