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Third Coast Festival Goes to Moscow

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I recently spent the week in Moscow on behalf of the Third Coast International Audio Festival, attending the Vmeste Radio (“Radio Together”) Festival, which is organized by FNR -- the Foundation for Independent Radio. Yes, independent radio exists in Russia, and is steadily gaining ground, thanks to FNR’s Herculean efforts. And no, I’m not overly familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet, and was reminded all week how humbling it is to be surrounded by a language you can’t read, even though some letters are clearly familiar. Happily, by the time I left I could recognize certain helpful words: coffee, salad, bank, and of course RADIO, which actually looks a lot like PAGUO.

Now in its sixth year, FNR is kind of a kindred spirit to the TCF, or a sibling-festival. It’s shares our main goal of bringing producers and journalists together to strengthen the culture of documentary, feature-making and reporting for the radio. And their efforts are working! Over the course of the Festival, I met attendees of all ages who are passionate about the potential for radio (and the internet) as a means of expression, information, communication and artful storytelling. It was especially impressive to see so many younger producers at the Festival (16-30), all of them chomping at the bit to make top-quality radio stories. Like Daniela and Nastya, who focus on stories about youth subcultures. They just finished a piece about graffiti culture in Moscow, including one scene recorded during a class where students were learning the finer points of graffiti history and aesthetics.

Another important element of FNR’s efforts is their website “Podstansiya” (podcast + station) which, in the spirit of transom.org and prx.org, is a portal for Russian producers (or anyone else) where one can listen to audio, comment on it, subscribe to podcasts and even upload new work. Podstansiya is creative, dynamic and tireless -- much like the FNR team and the community it’s building all across the country.

I’m hoping to blog again about FNR this fall. We’ve launched an official collaboration with them, and at this point hope to welcome 4-6 Russian producers to our annual TCF Conference, and then send some American producers over to Moscow for their gathering next summer. In the meantime, I can’t wait to borrow a page from FNR’s book and look into Third Coast Festival balloons"¦

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