AIR IS FREE!
I've been a broadcaster for more than a quarter of a century, first for the BBC's Russian Service (Bush House) and then the Russian Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Munich, Prague). As a rule I'm surrounded by thinking, creative people.
Many of them are the flowers of their national culture: outstanding poets, directors, essayists. In "normal" countries a radio station is not the focus of such a gathering of "stars". But I was born in a country which does not count among the "normal". Alongside me are people from other "abnormal" countries, countries where freedom is severely restricted or even completely lacking. The result is that I am surrounded by historical losers, regardless of the personal success any of my colleagues may have achieved.
I now look with a feeling of deep nostalgia at the BBC and Radio Free Europe/Liberty foreign language broadcast services that come from the "normal" world. The first to go were the Hungarian, Pole and Czech Services, then the Estonians, Lithuanians and Latvians. The most recent departures were the Bulgarian and Romanian Services. I feel like a person who has had to repeat a class, no, repeat a century or maybe even a millennium. What saves me from depression is a language I have discovered and fallen in love with: the language of radio. In my trade I am concerned first and foremost with sounds and their sequence. Drama, dramatic effect is born on radio when sounds collide, rub noses, give each other a slap. Radio language is wider, richer, more full-bodied than any spoken tongue. With it you can convey ageing, erotic excitement, the approach of madness, dying. I have no interest in describing culture. But to create and blow culture like glass is thrilling. To me radio is an art. Radio and poetry live in the same element - air. So for more than a quarter of a century the ground under my feet has been the element of air. A free element.
©IGOR POMERANTSEV Translated from the Russian by Frank Williams
Video made by RFL 2010: Radio-Poet Igor Pomerantsev