Serbs want B-92 radio station liberated
September 1, 1999
By Correspondent Matthew Chance
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- Citizens are taking to the streets of Belgrade again. This time, it's not just anti- government rallies they're attending; they're crowding into rock concerts.
But in Belgrade, even a Serbian pop music festival has taken on some political overtones.
The bands involved are all supporters of B-92, an outspoken, independent radio station seized by the government at the height of the war. Now the people want it back.
"During the bombing of Belgrade we didn't have any information (about) what (was) happening, because everything else is lies," a band member says.
The people who originally ran B-92 now broadcast under the temporary name of B-2-92. They admit it's somewhat confusing for listeners, because the old radio station, B-92, still transmits news, but only items approved by the government. That's something the original staff say they have always worked against.
"We are working totally independent, and we are trying to provide (the) most accurate and most rational news to our audience ... and it is very unique compared to (the rest of the Serbian media) scene which we are part of," B-2-92 producer Milivoje Calija says.
The original staff launched a vigorous television campaign to garner public support for the radio station.
One TV commercial shows a man happily unplugging massive wads of cotton from his ears so he can hear the news. Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind," plays in the background. The ad warns that the winds of change will pass by the people of Serbia if the country has no free media.
"We strongly believe we are doing the right thing ... (and have continued to do so) over the past 10 years," Calija says.
Staging a very loud rock concert may not be the most original way of promoting a radio station, but the situation in Serbia is unique.
For many people, this isn't about music only; it's about political freedom. It's that kind of public awareness that many hope will be an important step toward political change.
Serbia is no haven for Kosovar Serb refugees
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