August 07, 2012 13:56
by Shelley Nolan Freesland
AWR Communciation Director
Adventist World Radio has completed the installation of the first Seventh-day Adventist radio production studio in Albania. After celebrating the 20th anniversary of the church just last month, church members and leaders are looking forward to sharing the gospel with their countrymen on a broader basis through media.
Albania has a difficult history. When it became a communist country after World War II, most forms of worship were outlawed, many properties owned by religious groups were nationalized, and in 1967 the country’s leader pronounced Albania the world’s first atheist state and closed all churches and mosques. During this period, Albanian Adventists faced severe challenges – including imprisonment and torture – as they attempted to worship and witness.
Since the fall of communism in 1991, Albania began allowing private religious practice. Seventy percent of the people are Muslim, with the remaining either Albanian Orthodox or Roman Catholic. Albania has been attempting to catch up with the Western world, but is still one of the poorest countries in Europe.
The new radio studio is located on the ADRA Albania compound in Tirana. The project was made possible through a partnership between AWR and the Trans-European Division (TED) of the church: the TED contributed the funds for renovating the space, and AWR provided the recording equipment.
AWR’s global resource engineer, Daryl Gungadoo, traveled to Albania to do the installation and conduct training. It is common to encounter technical problems during such installations; in this case, one of the challenges was the supply of electricity, which fluctuated between 196 and 290 volts. This problem was solved with the addition of a high-quality UPS (uninterruptible power supply).
AWR broadcasts through a variety of media, so local church leaders are able to consult with AWR and choose the best medium for listeners in their area. “In Albania, I noticed that most people listen to local FM radio, rather than shortwave,” Gungadoo says. “There are dozens of local radio stations, but since people generally view radio as entertainment, most of the stations broadcast music nonstop, with occasional breaks for news flashes. However, Internet growth has been exponential, rising from 0.1 percent of the population in 2000 to 43 percent in 2010. Facebook is very popular among the youth, and smartphones are becoming more common.”
Now that the studio is fully operational, the Albanian Mission will hire staff to begin producing programs. The planned implementation stages illustrate how radio newcomers are able to establish and expand their presence. First, the producers will create weekly programs that will be broadcast as podcasts through awr.org and iTunes. After additional training for producers, technicians, and pastors, the team will aim to produce daily programs and explore the possibility of leased time on local FM radio stations. If all goes well, the potential may exist to eventually establish a full 24/76 Adventist radio station.
AWR president Dowell Chow says, “I am very pleased that the studio in Tirana is now ready for production. We look forward to a positive, innovative, and effective outreach program in Albania as a result of this new approach.”