Radio Študent (meaning: student) is an independent local radio station, situated in the town of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Though maybe widely unknown in the rest of the world, Radio Študent is well- known amongst the independent and alternative European radio stations for it is one of the oldest and largest student, community and independent radio station in Europe and a unique media, cultural, educational and research institution in Slovenia and beyond.
Founded in the 1968 as a result of a powerful student movement, it has established itself as an alternative and progressive media platform from its very first three hours of test programming that were broadcast from the student dormitories in Ljubljana on the 9th of May in 1969. Ever since that time, Radio Študent has played an important part in the Slovenian media space as well as in Slovenian history, for ex. it has played a key role in the struggle for the independence of Slovenia. As quoted from one of the radio’s jingles, Radio Študent has been „the companion of the student movement in the 60s, the liberal begging of the 70s, the stabilizing grey 80s, the independent and democratic 90s and nowadays confused present“ and through all this time, it has preserved its critical and diverse program and has dared to state things in the radio waves that no other media would dare to.
Being „without a muzzle ever since 1969“ as the radio states for itself, it produces 5,760 hours of live programming and a comparable amount of content on its website each year. The programming is currently created by over 150 regular contributors and throughout the years, 44 generations of new journalist and creators have shaped and co-created the station’s programming with theoretical, critical and versatile program, covering almost every aspect of the society, especially the ones that are often being overlooked.
Not only that Radio Študent is the only independent and alternative media in Slovenia, it is also an unique cultural and educational institution. Each year, it organises a number of music- related and cultural events and provides training for around 40 new contributors that are mostly students from the University of Ljubljana. It has provided a place for the ones that don’t become contributors because of their desire for profit, but due to their belief in the freedom of speech and opposing viewpoints, a dignified critical stance and respect for diversity, truth and justice, as well as creativity and fun.
Despite its significance and the important role it plays, Radio Študent has been facing difficulties for years, mainly due to the fact that there hasn’t been a systematic solution in terms of its finances. This instability comes from the fact that the main financer of Radio Študent is the Student Organization of the University of Ljubljana, which is also its founder, which each year determines anew the annual budget plan. The latter is strongly dependable on two factors: one of them being the current student representatives who are re-elected every two years and usually use the budgetary decision as a tool of dispute between different parliamentary groups in the Student Parliament, the second one being the dependency on a fixed percentage of commissions that come from student work and are the main source of finances for the Student Organization.
That means that there is no guaranteed financing and the fate of the radio is often in the hands of the narrow interests of its various organizational founders and other external factors. The radio has tried to find different sources of finances but the main source that also enables it to apply for
European grants and projects, is still the Student Organization. In recent times, it has also been in danger of being deprived of the basic funding that is required to broadcast its regularly scheduled programming.
The situation worsened in the present year after the supplementary budget plan when the annual grant of Student Organization dropped from 230 thousand Euros a year, which was considered the minimum amount for the functioning of the radio, to 180 thousand Euros a year. Under these terms, the Radio Študent would be forced to cut the cost of programming and content by at least 20 percent. Due to the shifting of responsibility and ignorance and irresponsiveness of other competent institutions and stakeholders that all seem to „acknowledge the importance of the radio“, yet at the same time state that in the time of crisis, there is no money for the preservation of the radio, the very existence of the radio was put into question. Due to this fact, the radio decided to found an initiative to preserve the radio, prepared a petition and crowd funding campaign.
In the course of the last 4 months, there have been numerous events, dedicated to the preservation of the radio, such as roundtables, seminars, music events, a public protest and a benefit event. For now, it would seem that the campaign has gather enough finances to avoid cutting the program and content, which has been already underpaid, but the question of the continued existence of the Radio Študent still remains. For it is not just a question of the survival of some radio station; it is a question of preserving independent media and independent culture and the historic achievements of independent and spontaneous student action in its most positive form.
Ultimately, it is a question of civilization, a question of maintaining and preserving a culture and organization free from capital and politics.
Therefore we conclude this article with the repeated demands from the online petition:
• of the Student Organization of the University in Ljubljana: operations in the public interest, the redistribution of assets and the creation of short-
and long-term mechanisms that would enabled the continued, uninterrupted operation of Radio Študent and other not-for-profit institutions and activities that are in the interest of university students and society in general;
• of the University of Ljubljana: the completion of the formal portion of the procedure for establishing the University of Ljubljana as a co-founder of Radio Študent, a move which all partners and stakeholders (the Radio Študent Institute, the Student Organisation of the University of Ljubljana and the University of Ljubljana) have already agreed to;
• of the Municipality of Ljubljana: the creation of mechanisms for the systematic financing of the Radio Študent Institute as a unique municipal public radio service and a unique cultural and educational institution operating in the Municipality of Ljubljana; for over 45 years, Radio Študent has been operating in the interest of the citizens and residents of Ljubljana;
• of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Slovenia:long-term legislative solutions for the stable, adequate financing of the broadcast and other cultural activities of Radio Študent and the educational processes and hands-on training that Radio Študent constantly conducts;
• of the Post and Electronic Communications Agency of the Republic of Slovenia: the assignment of frequencies with the aim of expanding the range and listenership of Radio Študent to all of Slovenia, or at least to all university centres in Slovenia;
and CALL UPON:
• the media, civil society organizations, organized groups and individuals: please, do whatever is in your power to contribute to the preservation, continued existence and development of Radio Študent.
To sign the petition, go to: http://radiostudent.si/peticija/
To visit the radio website, go to: http://radiostudent.si/
Klara Otorepec is a 24-year old student of social pedagogy. Working as a journalist at Radio Študent since October 2013 at the University editiorial board. An active student activist and volunteer for non-profit organizations. An occasional poetess. Main theoretical fields of interest inlcude political economy, psychoanalysis, knowledge society, higher education, ideology, new alternatives, critical art.
Klara Otoperec submitted this article to The Arachneed on behalf of Radio Študent.
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