Shropshire Star

Ukraine refugee and radio presenter Hanna gets slot on local radio station

A Ukrainian radio presenter is on a mission to 'cheer up the native spirits' of her fellows, as she broadcasts from her host's family home in Shropshire.

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Ukrainian refugee, Hanna Zarystka, has got herself a Radio Presenter spot on Market Drayton Radio's Pure Gold UK

Hanna Zarytska fled the conflict in Ukraine with her 13-year-old son Roman in August of this year and was taken in by her host Julia Farrant from Market Drayton.

Almost six months since she arrived, Hanna has been given a 'gift of fate' – being able to present her own show on Market Drayton's local radio station – PureGoldUK.

Ukrainian refugee, Hanna Zarystka, has a presenter spot on Market Drayton Radio’s Pure Gold UK

Commenting on the opportunity, the 38-year-old said: "Just imagine that a person who does not speak English well and who works as a radio host in Ukraine comes to a small British town.

"The chances of staying in the profession are zero, but no, coincidentally, it is precisely in this town that there is an online radio station, the manager of which is a person with a big heart.

"And he, a Ukrainian-speaking presenter, gives the necessary equipment for her to have her own show. That is, I consider it a gift of fate and nothing else."

Run by station manager Mike Smith, Pure Gold radio gets around 25,000 listening hours a month and by Christmas it could have around 15,000 unique listeners.

Despite it being a small, ever-evolving radio station based in rural Shropshire, it has an extensive outreach with people tuning in from across the globe.

For Hanna, it is a way for her to connect with her friends and family back home and for her to speak directly to refugees living in the UK.

"It was created in order to support Ukrainians who are abroad and to at least cheer up their native spirits a little," she said.

"Ukrainian songs will be played for an hour, and we also talk about important topics such as adaptation abroad, combatting stress, etc."

Ukrainian refugee, Hanna Zarystka, has got herself a Radio Presenter spot on Market Drayton Radio's Pure Gold UK

However, Hanna said it was becoming increasingly difficult for her family to tune in from across the seas, as Russian missiles attack power plants in Ukraine.

"Now in Ukraine, there are serious problems with electricity because of missile attacks by the Russians. And if there is no electricity, there is no internet," Hanna said.

Hanna's slot on Pure Gold Radio is every Wednesday from 10am to 11am, which is 12pm Ukrainian time.

All songs on the radio are requested by listeners and music ranges from songs of the 1950s all the way up to the present day.

A lot of work goes in to preparing her slot and performing live, as Hanna said there's no chance for a re-write or to start from the beginning.

"Every presenter knows that no matter how relaxed the presenter is on the air and it seems that she is speaking for herself, there is still painstaking preparation behind it," she said.

But with 20 years of experience in the media industry back at home, Hanna is very familiar with the ins and outs of radio presenting.

She has worked as a news anchor and editor for 100FM Radio and as a presenter on the children's television programme 'Rozumnyashki'.

"I did not become a radio presenter by chance," Hanna said, "when I was still in high school, I enrolled in a group of young journalists and successfully graduated after two years of study.

"And while studying in the first year of university, when I was 18 years old, I got my first job on the radio as an editor and news anchor."

Ukrainian refugee, Hanna Zarystka, has got herself a Radio Presenter spot on Market Drayton Radio's Pure Gold UK

The Pure Gold team started transmissions in 2020, just before the country went into lockdown, and has been developing with new presenters and new shows ever since.

It's a not-for-profit organisation, with all the money the station receives through advertising, going towards its day-to-day operation.

Presenters broadcast remotely from their own homes in Market Drayton, as well as Liverpool and even Massachusetts USA.

Having Hanna present on Pure Gold radio may be a first for Shropshire, Mike said and because of her success they are looking to boost the numbers of refugee presenters.

People can listen to Pure Gold UK on Apple or Android, by downloading the app or listening via Alexa and Google Home.

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