Posted on October 18, 2010
Since arriving in the Kingdom of Bhutan, Raffi and Atsu have been interning at Kuzoo FM, one of Bhutan’s major national radio stations. Kuzoo FM’s primary mission is to help the youth gain self-confidence, which is why a call-in show called Youth Unplugged is held weekly. Additionally, some local student volunteers regularly work at the station as RJs. Working as both show hosts and program producers, Raffi and Atsu have had the unique opportunity to bring their love of music to all four-corners of the country and also help the station achieve its goal of reaching out to youth.
Our experience thus far at Kuzoo FM has, more than anything else, provided us with diverse and unfamiliar perspectives and has allowed us to gain insight into the mass communication efforts of Bhutan. Before arriving at Kuzoo, we were both aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses that could have significant impacts during the course of the internship. While Raffi had more past experience with public speaking and performing, Atsu was highly trained in music production and engineering. While these differing skills may have brought into question the success of a partnership, we were able to feed off of and learn from each other in order to create a dynamic and constantly developing team.
During a typical week at Kuzoo FM, we participate in three shows, each with their own specific time slot and title. Although we dub all of our shows, “In the Mix with Atsu and Raffi,” the radio station defines our shows as the following:
Monday 2:30-4:00pm: Mix Hour
Tuesday 4:30-6:00pm: Evening Drive
Saturday 2:30-6:00 pm: Youth Unplugged (Call-in Show)
For each week, we have a specific topic of discussion, which carries us from Saturday into Tuesday, at which time we announce our new topic. Saturday, which is our call-in show, allows a listener to call in and request songs/make dedications to their friends or family. This time also affords us the opportunity to ask questions related to our topic and discuss it with the callers or guests that we bring into the studio. Our topics thus far have included:
Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Western Influence of Music and the Preservation of Traditional Music
Gross National Happiness
Crow Zero (A popular Japanese movie in Bhutan)
Within each topic lies the potential for cultural differences. We have chosen each of these topics because they allow us to be broad enough to ask questions to listeners without worrying about a “wrong answer” while being focused enough to capture the attention of the listeners. Also, because Atsu is from Japan and Raffi from the United States, we are able to gain THREE different perspectives of any one issue: The Bhutanese perspective, the Japanese perspective and the American perspective. We have found with each topic that the ideas and agreements related to each topic frequently clash, however, we commonly find similarities as well, such as the ways in which people adapt to dramatic transitions in their lives (going to college, losing a loved one etc).
With only four weeks left at Kuzoo, we are doing all we can to leave the radio station with a strong foundation and more specifically, popular shows and discussion topics that can be furthered after our departure. Before we leave Bhutan, we will also present Kuzoo with a new jingle or “Station ID” as they call it. We are currently working to create and produce this audio track and will have it finished by the second week in November. Additionally, Raffi’s father will be visiting Bhutan in order to help the radio station stream their Dzongkha (national language of Bhutan) station on the Internet. The radio station hopes that this will allow Bhutanese students studying in foreign countries such as India to have a constant reminder of their traditional culture, even from thousands of miles away.
The KUZZO team
Atsu and Raffi