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Andon Baltakov: I believe in the goodness that everyone carries inside

Radio Bulgaria is the window of Bulgaria to the world and of the world to Bulgaria, says BNR Director General

| updated on 2/16/20 10:41 AM
Photo: Ani Petrova

After a series of concussions due to the recent crisis in the management of the Bulgarian National Radio, Andon Baltakov was elected General Director of the media by Bulgaria’s Council of Electronic Media. He made his first steps in journalism at Radio Bulgaria, and his work with the most prominent names in the history of the BNR set the direction for his future development. After specializing in the BBC, he joined the Associated Press in New York and later CNN Digital, where he rose to managerial positions.

My career in the United States has given me a lot both professionally and personally. For me as a person and a professional, there comes a time when you start thinking about what you could give in return. As the Bulgarian National Radio underwent several periods of crisis in recent years, I did an analysis before writing my strategy for the future development of the media with which I applied for the post, and came to the conclusion that much of these crises were caused by the way the organization was managed. I think that over the past 20 years, I have not only gained the theoretical knowledge of modern management of a complex structure such as the BNR but I also know the specifics of doing digital journalism and the people who create radio programmes could benefit from that knowledge and my management style.

The love for the radio medium and the challenge of taking the public broadcaster to the forefront in the digital space motivated Andon Baltakov to take a decisive step towards Bulgaria and leave his settled life and successful career in the United States. Most important to him are the people, not the management functions or systems that exist in an organization. In order to understand what people's attitudes are, he holds meetings with the employees of all departments of the Bulgarian National Radio.

On the one hand, I feel hope, but on the other, fear,” Baltakov says. “I cannot understand why people have been afraid for so long. Fear causes them to not think creatively and has a negative effect on their skills. I want to somehow catalyze the change in this inner feeling inside everyone so that each person can fully develop their abilities and also derive pleasure from their job. This is one of the main factors for successful development.

In the creative organizations where I worked in the US, people go to work with love because they fully develop their creative potential. This is how I come to work every day so I expect it from others, as well. They have my full support, if they are just as sincere as I am in my quest to contribute to the future development of the BNR. "

For the new director general of the BNR, Radio Bulgaria is "Bulgaria's window to the world and of the world to Bulgaria."

With this philosophical framework, I will work with my colleagues at Radio Bulgaria to realize it," he stresses. “With regard to the audio presence of the programme, Baltakov is adamant that it must exist. With the help of the people in the programme, he intends to build a consistent strategy with which broadcasts targeted for audiences abroad can take on a more contemporary look.

As a person who has lived for many years abroad, Andon Baltakov's observations are that foreigners are primarily interested in culture and security, whether they are temporarily residing in a country or visit it simply as tourists. The same applies to us, Bulgarians.

The first thing we check is whether the state is stable. Then we are interested to know about local people, whether they are smiling and responsive, about how they live. Travel guides have all the information about where and what to visit. But what people visiting a country want to know is where the locals go, how they have fun, what makes them happy. The point is to show how we live and how hospitable we are. America is completely different. I cannot compare Bulgaria with the United States. Both countries have their pros and cons. I have traveled and worked in other countries and always wanted to see the good things because every country has something to enrich me with as a person and as a professional. Yes, there are things that we do not like, but it is also good to find the positive ones. This also applies to people - every person, deep down, is innately good!”

English Rossitsa Petcova

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