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NIN, No.2668, February 14, 2002
Interview with Sanda Savic, Radio B92 news editor
A step ahead of the rest
author: Dragana Matic

When it comes to current affairs programming, B92 has no real competition, says the radio’s news editor, Sanda Savic.  “Our position could only be in danger from Radio Belgrade.  But we welcome that competition.”

Radio B92 has been the most popular station in Belgrade or the past three years.  Even more pleasing to the staff is that fact that B92 now has even more listeners than during the time of Slobodan Milosevic.  The prediction that the station would lose some of its audience as democratic changes brought freedom to the media has not come true.

Survey results from Belgrade’s Strategic Marketing agency show that the popularity of the station’s three main half-hour news bulletins has risen significantly.  Thus morning news at 9.00 a.m. rose by 20 per cent, evening news at 5.00 p.m. by 23 per cent and late evening news at 9.00 p.m. by 17 per cent between April and October, 2001.

Savic is obviously delighted with the ratings, saying that even the station’s current affairs staff had not expected such satisfactory results.

“Even though we weren’t certain we would succeed, we have demonstrated that B92 functions well, and not only in times of revolution, says Savic, adding that for the first time the station’s morning news is more popular than that of Radio Belgrade, which had led the ratings for decades.

“When it comes to current affairs, we have no competition: we’re a step ahead of the rest,” says Savic.  Next come Radio S, Radio Belgrade’s First Program, Radio Nostalgie, Index and Pink.

“Among these stations, most of which have an emphasis on music and have virtually no current affairs programming.  Our position could only be in danger from Radio Belgrade.  But we welcome that competition,” says Savic.

The B92 news editor adds that even thought the station’s audience is mostly an older group, primarily because of the current affairs program (“the target group is those between 25 and 40 years), more and more young people are now listening to the station.

“It is also interesting that people are spending more time listening to B92 and that, for the first time in the radio’s history, 51 per cent of our active listeners are women,” says Savic.

All of this is no accident.  After the changes of October 5, 2001 (when all media began working), Radio B92’s editorial staff decided on strategic reform of the program.

“As far as entertainment, especially music programs, are concerned, we decided to air in the real radio time, the morning hours, something which could be referred to as ‘the acceptable alternative’, music which most people can accept, while making sure we didn’t lose the B92 spirit.  This is where the rule becomes ‘If you’re number one, you’re mainstream’.

“With the current affairs program things are quite different, because the formula by which the station has always been recognised, has been retained.  There was no need to change its style, only the content,” says Savic.

“Programs such as Katarza, Pescanik, Jutopija and the interview of the day attract mostly the well-serviced listeners who are used to such programs.”

However, says Savic, the program Kaziprst, which is somewhat lighter, is becoming more and more popular, mainly among listeners who are new to the station.

“Our guiding principle in working on the current affairs program now is to try to be aware of what particular information means and why it is important to our listeners.  Some statements of the ministers, the president, the prime minister are not of great importance because everyone will report them.  What is important is the answer to the question of what a statement means from, for example, the sociological point of view”.

 

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© 2002, B92