Rural Radio Thrives in Mongolia
William Siemering was the first Director of Programming for National Public Radio, where he helped develop such features as "All Things Considered." He also worked at Minnesota Public Radio. Since 1997, Siemering has been involved in the Rural Radio Project, which is devoted to expanding and improving media coverage in sparsely populated areas of Mongolia. Siemering recently spoke to EurasiaNet about the program's success in fostering civil society values in Mongolia. The text of the interview follows:
EurasiaNet: What are the objectives of the Rural Radio Project?
Siemering: We see this not only as a project to provide important information for local communities, but also as an opportunity to establish a model of independent journalism in Mongolia that can be replicated in the capital city. There are about five private radio stations in Ulanbaatar, the Mongolian capital, and I don't think any of them are airing significant information programming, like they are in the countryside. There aren't many models of good, independent journalism, either in print or in broadcast media. We see this as a very important step in developing independent news.
EurasiaNet: What has been accomplished so far?
Siemering: One of the priorities of the Mongolia Foundation for Open Society has been focused in rural development. The medium that is most used in the countryside is radio. It can take up to a month for newspapers to reach herders, and they need more current information. All that's been available in the past is state broadcasting and they allow about six regional stations to cut away for four, one-half hour periods per week to put on local programming. The people in the countryside felt that they needed more time devoted to local issues.