Radio gives expats own voice

Every Sunday morning, Radio Alfa 102.40 FM presents the English-speaking community with ExPat Radio, an engaging show that promotes the many attractions of Krakow and encourages foreigners to get involved in local activities. On air from 10, or, shortly after, depending on the circumstances, the ExPat crew helps its listeners ease into the day with two hours’ worth of good tunes, interviews, live performances, readings, news and event announcements.

The show is non-profit, which means the people putting it together do so purely out of enjoyment and motivation to serve a need. Through the program, the ExPat team aims to channel information to expatriates residing in Krakow by creating awareness and stirring interest in local matters. In addition, the show gives off a familiar tone, not only through the use of the English language, but also as a result of the friendly, relaxed atmosphere created in the way the team members work closely together.

In a similar situation as their listeners, the ExPat crew members themselves come from very different backgrounds and have arrived in Poland for distinctive reasons, for instance Polish family history, a search for new opportunities, or simply through travel, having made Polish friends abroad. While nationalities include British, Polish, American, and Dutch, each of the members has found his or her place in Krakow. Impressively, they all speak Polish, though some on a higher level than others, have lived in Poland for a number of years, and work – a few of them have taken on jobs involving linguistic skills, such as teaching or translating.

The idea for the show was initiated by two members of the current ExPat team who are also involved in Romantic Wave, another yet more artsy Radio Alfa program conducted in both English and Polish, on air Sunday evenings from 21:00 to 22:00. The proposal was brought to the attention of Zdzislaw Zabierzewski, the presenter of Romantic Wave, was accepted, built on, and eventually realized. Zabierzewski states that twelve years ago, it was very difficult to find willing contributors for an English-language show.

Despite the vast community of English-speakers in Krakow, there were no local radio programs addressing this specific audience or targeting expatriates in the country. Consequently, ExPat Radio is the first program of its kind to appear in Poland. Having kicked off just over half a year ago, the program continues to develop and is growing stronger.

According to Johnny Walczak, one of the ExPat originators, the team is made up of amateurs, each contributing his or her bit of experience. As a result, the process has been a huge learning curve and now the show is finally coming together. Committed to the development of the program, ExPat members have started meeting with focus groups once a month in order to receive more feedback from their listeners and find ways in which they can improve. In addition, they are always welcoming comments and ideas to be communicated via phone or email.

ExPat Radio is very much focused on music, which in itself is a way of communication, inviting a variety of bands and musicians to participate, exchange views, and share their compositions. However, while music plays a central role in the program, a wide range of cultural and political topics also arises. Events announced often involve concerts, exhibits and other cultural activities. During special times of the year, such as Christmas and New Year, listeners can learn about Polish traditions and ways to access the local scoop.

Currently, the ExPat crew sees building a web site for the program as a priority, providing more practical information to its listeners, such as where to find English-speaking doctors, dentists or other facilities often sought by new arrivals.
According to Zabierzewski, ExPat radio reaches out to foreigners, helping them to find themselves here, while also acting as a kind of “tour guide.” ExPat, now firmly on the Krakow landscape, will continue to serve the growing needs of its multitude of visitors.

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