International radio producers convene in city

AIRCHECK

November 05, 1993|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,Staff Writer

Radio producers from around the world arrive in Baltimore today for a conference aimed at fostering cooperative programs to help cultures better understand each other.

Interconnect 1993, organized and sponsored by "Soundprint," the documentary series produced here at WJHU-FM (88.1), begins tonight with an opening address by Bill Siemering, the first program director of National Public Radio and founder of "All Things Considered," as well as of "Soundprint."

Workshops and panel discussions continue through Monday at the Latham Hotel.

Although the unprecedented conference is not open to the public, organizers suggest public radio listeners will eventually hear the results.

"What we hope will happen is that there will be specific collaborative projects developed," said Moira Rankin, "Soundprint" executive producer.

Baltimore plays host to the effort because of pioneering efforts by "Soundprint" to make international radio connections.

The weekly program (heard here at 7 p.m. Wednesday and 7:30 a.m. Sunday on WJHU and carried nationally by NPR) demonstrated the concept this year by launching a collaboration with broadcasters from Britain, Ireland, Australia and Canada.

The teaming has produced 15 documentaries, three by each participating country, which are being heard in all five nations.

In addition, "Soundprint" last year worked with Russian journalists to produce a three-part series, "Voices of Russia," and the program has also been carried in England by the British Broadcasting Corp.

"We've been doing this for some time, and word has been getting out," said Joyce Ritchie, "Soundprint" executive director. Yet she said planners were surprised by the level of interest from developing nations in Africa and Latin America.

Representatives of 18 nations are expected to attend Interconnect: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ghana, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Switzerland, Uganda, Britain, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

"We've got the right people coming," said Ms. Rankin. Organizers tried to reach beyond titular officials to invite the producers and other creative people of each nation's radio operations.

Funding for the conference has come from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Office of International Activities. The Rockefeller Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trust have also provided support, enabling delegates from some developing countries to attend.

"Part of the process, of course, is going to be just learning whaeverybody does," said Ms. Rankin. Thus the conference includes a listening library where delegates may share tapes of their work.

This first Interconnect gathering was modeled in part after INPUT, an annual conference of public television producers from the around the world. INPUT/92 was held in Baltimore in May, 1992.

Television also has a small role in this weekend's radio conference, with representatives of Maryland Public Television participating in some panel discussions.

"Most countries do not have TV and radio cooperation, yet often they can help each other," said Ms. Rankin.

For example, she said, "Soundprint" and MPT have begun collaborating on a series on women's issues that would be heard on the radio in 1994 and viewed on TV in 1995.

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