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ERR board member: 'Olukorrast riigist' politics show to continue as podcast

Tiina Kaalep.
Tiina Kaalep. Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

Politics talk show "Olukorrast riigis" will continue but as a podcast, management board member at public broadcaster ERR Tiina Kaalep says.

Up to now the show, which translates loosely as "State of the nation," had been carried by Raadio 2 – currently undergoing a programming revamp.

While radio continues to be a highly popular medium in Estonia, streaming services and the podcasting world are also a reality, Kaalep says.

This is particularly applicable in relation to the younger (14-24 years) age group, Kaalep adds.

Appearing on Vikerraadio's "Meediatund" show, she said: "This is the biggest difference. Most people in Europe today stream music, followed by listening to the radio, and then listening to podcasts. However, music streaming is significantly more popular among younger people, followed by podcasts, with radio in third place."

Part of the overhaul of Raadio 2, also known as R2, is aimed at recouping younger listeners.

ERR must adapt to the winds of change, she added. "We have to pay attention to what different age groups want to listen to. We have to monitor their listening habits and follow those. Here, I mean podcasts. People do want to listen to a lengthy tale, but they want to listen to it on their own terms, not when the show is being broadcast on the radio."

A podcast has some similarities with a regular, longer radio talk show, she said, in that at the heart of a good podcast is a smart speaker, who has something you can learn from. "This summer, Raadio 2 used the holiday time to produce two podcast series: "Spordis ainult tüdrukud" and "Piltlikult öeldes". Now Raadio 2 will add a third to this list," she went on, referring to "Olukorrast riigis."

Kaalep noted that Raadio 2 was created to be a youth channel, but that that creation took place 30 years ago, early on after the restoration of Estonian independence.

"Through its history, it has gone through four very large format changes, while the fifth is currently underway. All these changes have had their hitches. But once the new program has started to function, it has found its place in the ears and eyes of both the listeners and the program makers."

Kaalep emphasized that the editor-in-chief has always had a role, and with it the right to alter and draw up ERR's programming. "The creator of the schedule which has been running for the past few months, was former editor-in-chief Heidy Purga (and now culture minister – ed.). Similarly, current editor-in-chief Margus Kamlat is making changes to the current Raadio 2 program. These will come into effect at the beginning of the new year, and impact upon the whole broadcasting day," he said.

The changes are larger in some places than they are in others. "My steadfast hope is that, partly based on the feedback received and partly based on my own convictions, a schedule has been reached that both suits the listener and meets the goals set by the board, which is to halt the decline in listeners and, if possible, boost this; and certainly to find a younger audience," Kaalep went on.

"Raadio 2 is the gateway through which we will welcome young listeners to our audience. Raadio 2 has had that before. Colleagues at other public organizations are constantly making changes tot heir youth stations, but the difference with our format change is very, very big."

According to Kaalep, young people do not want to listen to hourly programs on the radio. "The R2 line-up does not include a long hour-long radio show, but there are now many shorter formats which showcase various topics, than there were before. Raadio 2 has so far been focused on the music industry, whic was not a bad thing; that was a goal, but today we believe that young radio listeners need something else: Discussion on nature conservation, recycling, investment etc. We want to create journalistic formats, in a shorter form, to enable them to speak to the listener," Kaalep said.

As for music content itself, a greater emphasis will be placed on domestic artists, than before.

"The share of Estonian music within the Raadio 2 program is rising - the share of Estonian artists is growing. This is also one of the goals of the changes. Creations from new Estonian artists are also very welcome."

Kaalep conceded that much could have been done differently during the process of reformatting the R2 schedule. "There is no reason to be proud about the fact that people are disappointed. It has been a lesson for us in how to get messages across to people, so that there is no reaction of this kind. I apologize to those upset about what is happening with Raadio 2, that we have caused some sadness and frustration with the way we have announced whether or not a show will continue. That has been poor at times. But I hope we can overcome things together," she went on.

Tiina Kaalep also said that ERR's podcasts will be available via an app, which talk of which will be amplified over the next few weeks. "The will be easy to find there, yet it doesn't matter which channel they are on. Shows, topics and hosts will be shown, and not which channel they were originally broadcast on," she went on.

In addition to R2 and Vikerraadio, ERR operates Klassikaraadio, Raadio 4 (Russian-language) and Raadio Tallinn, which includes some English content.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mari Peegel

Source: 'Meediatund,' interviewer Marju Himma.

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