Harry Tamrazian is Director of RFE/RL’s Armenian Service
. He sat down with us recently to talk about Radio Azatutyan, his time with RFE, and Armenia's most popular game.
What impact is Radio Azatutyan having in Armenia right now?
: Radio Azatutyan is the most popular and listened-to radio station in Armenia. This includes all local radio stations, even the 24 hour public radio news broadcast, which is surprising since we broadcast far less! Our programming covers evenings and prime time news hours, and we also have a morning broadcast as well as regular special segments focusing on topics like education, music, youth and culture.
The strength of Radio Azatutyan that no other outlet has been able to accomplish is the reputation of being the radio that broadcasts the truth. Over many years of fair and intelligent news broadcasts we have achieved this, and we are proud of our accomplishment. You have been with RFE/RL since 1990. What about RFE/RL do you enjoy that has kept you here for so much of your career?
: I consider RFE not just a media company, but something more. Our mission – reporting unbiased, fact-based news to unfree societies – is essentially selfless. It is not financially driven, it’s not commercial; it comes from the heart. Frankly, this is inspiring to me, because it makes me something more than just a broadcaster. I’m here to support my fellow Armenians.We have been told that you are something of a master chess player. Care to comment?
: I would not consider myself a master chess player. But what I will say is that every Armenian knows how to play chess. This is the most popular game in the country because we had the world champion, Tigran Petrosian, during Soviet times in the late 60s. Imagine this tiny nation in the corner of this huge empire that suddenly has this hero. Every family wanted to send their kids to his chess school. This tradition continues today. So I am just another Armenian who plays chess.