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Wednesday, 13 November, 2002, 10:35 GMT
Net lifeline for mountain people
Naryn in Kyrgyzstan
Naryn is in a remote part of Central Asia
Dr David Mikosz, regional director of a US Government net project in Central Asia, and project worker Jyldyz Beknazarova explain how a community radio station in Kyrgyzstan is using the web to overcome the region's isolation.
Nestled among the Tien Shen Mountains, the remote city of Naryn is in the south of the Kyrgyz Republic, one of the former Soviet Republics in Central Asia.

The city's Tenir-Too station has turned to the web to get national and international news. In the past, news from the capital, Bishkek, would sometimes take a week or more to arrive and world news was very difficult to obtain.

"The independent media would have never been able to do much without the internet," said Managing Director Asanbek uluu Ruslan.

Radio has been extremely important in the rural Kyrgyz Republic since independence because it is the most affordable form of entertainment. Mountains block most television signals and the radio has become the only source of news.

Small beginnings

With a population of about 40,000 in the city, Naryn is an almost entirely ethnic Kyrgyz city.

It is important because the region's main road connects the Kyrgyz Republic to China through the spectacular Torugart Pass. This was one of the major routes of the famous Silk Road.

Naryn residents
Radio is most affordable form of entertainment for the people
The Tenir-too community radio station began broadcasting in October 1999. Initially, the station had only one hour of programming a day, with no more than two tape-recorders, one microphone, and a couple of tapes.

At that time, they were doing two programmes, broadcasting on medium wave from 1999 until 2001.

In 2001, funding from the local American Embassy's Democracy Commission enabled the station to move to FM and broadcast 24 hours a day, in both the Russian and Kyrgyz languages.

The radio station discovered the potential of the internet when a free internet cafe was opened in the city, funded by the US Government.

Top tunes

Tenir-too began to adapt its programming to the information they received online, using the web as a source of news.

It has also been able to attract more young listeners, by downloading Russian pop music from the net.

It has meant that the youth of this rural Kyrgyz city can now catch up with the latest hits just days or even hours behind the rest of the country.

The expansion of programming from the internet has meant than local businesses have begun to pay to advertise on the station.

The extra funding is being used to pay for a dedicated internet connection at the station.

Tenir-Too has also been able to set up links with other radio stations. Director Darygul Abdykerimova said: "The connection with other radio stations has been useful because we can share programming ideas."

The radio station has been helped by funding from a variety of donors - the Soros Foundation, the US Government and the Unicef.

The internet access site is comes through the US State Department's Internet Access and Training Program (IATP).

In Central Asia and several other regions, it is administered by an American organisation, Irex (International Research & Exchanges Board). The IATP Centre in Naryn is one of 49 such centres in Central Asia.

See also:

02 Nov 01 | Science/Nature
05 Jun 02 | Country profiles
02 Nov 02 | Science/Nature
29 Oct 02 | Science/Nature
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