DEZURNI MIKROFON RADIO PROGRAM // 09. 1992.
BORO KONTIC // JOURNALIST
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

September 1992

Boro Kontic
Journalist
DEZURNI MIKROFON RADIO PROGRAM

‘That evening when our presenter announced the evening news saying ‘This is Radio Bosnia and Herzegovina’ then the Serbs began to aim directly at us, right at the 6th floor, where the central studio was, all the central connections and the central studio. It seems it isn’t so easy to get a direct hit right through a window - if they had done I think they would have wiped out the entire production unit and all the central connections. It was one of those key moments. We were all crammed into one room that used to be called the PP center - meaning the dispatch center, it was the place where all material for the radio and TV came in and went out. And we were all crammed in it round a few lamps. The whole production staff worked there, getting broadcasts ready, except when we were in that little editing room. Then for the first time I saw, in that apparently stifling little room with a few lamps, about 20 people not just trying to produce a broadcast but actually doing so. Then I saw how people could laugh, actually enjoy themselves - and the war had already been on for three months, we’d already experienced the massacre in Vase Miskina Stree, already had appalling news.’

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SEPTEMBER 1992


• The Presidency of BiH decides the evacuation of children by the organization Children’s Embassy will only be carried out under the strictest security.
• Slobodan Milosevic dismisses Milan Panic, the new president of the government of Yugoslavia.
• In the Sarajevo neighborhood of Stup, the site of a bustling market, the situation grows tense. The HVO, BiH Territorial Defense and Bosnian Serbs erect barricades against each another.
• The city’s government battles epidemics of entercolitis and dysentery.
• Sarajevo’s Jewish community announces: “We want to be Bosnian Jews. During the Second World War, the Muslims acted the most justly. They protected the Jews.”
• Russian media blames the Muslims for all of the Serbs′ actions.
• Serb snipers fire at journalists from “Oslobodjenje” as they enter their office.
• An overland corridor is established between Split and Sarajevo.
• The Serbs agree to place their heavy artillery under UNPROFOR control after the expiration of the deadline of the ultimatum.
• Associations are established in Sarajevo for citizens expelled from other towns in BiH.


• An Italian humanitarian flight is shot down.
• Geneva, September 4, 1992. In Geneva, under the auspices of the UN and EC, in the Palace of Nations, an international conference begins on the former Yugoslavia.
• Humanitarian aid networks bring the citizens of Sarajevo 400 kg of food daily.
• The Children’s Embassy convoy is put on hold.
• The Ministry of Education issues a statement that enrolment in school is dependent on security conditions.
• Geneva, September 6, 1992. At the international conference, the aggressor’s side is asked to place all of its heavy artillery around Sarajevo, Gorazde, Bihac and Jajce under UN control by September 12. Karadzic doesn’t sign the agreement on placing heavy artillery under UNPROFOR control.


• Despite the deadline given Radovan Karadzic on handing over arms to UNPROFOR control, he continues to negotiate over the size of artillery pieces to be confiscated.
• Robbery of the “Fruktal” warehouse in Stup. HVO units and Juka’s unit compete over who will take more. The headquarters of the HVO in Mostar is given an ultimatum by the Armed Forces of BiH in Sarajevo to withdraw from Stup within 48 hours.
• Premier performance of the play “Skloniste” at the War Theatre “Sartr.”
• The “Holiday Inn” Hotel makes $230,000 in two months because it is the only hotel that can receive foreign journalists and supply them with food, water and electricity.
• Citizens rip out seesaws and benches from parks to survive the winter.


• The citizens of Sarajevo can buy a barrel of water up to 30 liters for 10 Deutsche Marks. Those that are able to get water from one of the rare sources in the city know that one canister of water could cost them their lives because of exposure to snipers and shelling.
• Dr Mario Landeka, at the “Paleta” gallery, displays 22 paintings on the theme of water.
• Bosnian Serb forces place their arms under UNPROFOR control at 11 positions.
• The Bosnian Serbs launch a heavy offensive. HVO units flee Stup, retreating from the city’s line of defense.
• The BiH delegation travels to Geneva for peace negotiations.
• The city lacks chlorine for the chlorination of drinking water, leading to negotations with UNPROFOR.
• The Bosnian Serb offensive on Stup continues, in an attempt to enter the city through its weakened defensive lines.
• The children’s choir “Palcici” writes to Princess Diana to tell her what’s happening to them.
• 20 authors display a portfolio of prints “SA 92”.
• Football league matches are held in Sarajevo under the slogan “It’s important to participate.”
• The city is ravaged by hunger, illness, despair and death.
• Muslims and Croats flee Grbavica, the occupied part of the city, paying ransoms on their own lives to the Serbs.
• A match is played between Sarajevo and UNPROFOR. The final score is 12 - 3.

Radio

Those with batteries/generators can listen to the government radio and some independent, privately owned stations. The most popular are the urban stations “Zid” and “Studio 99”.

Radio

The independent radio station „Radio Zid“ (Wall) founded and managed by Zdravko Grebo, is a station concerned with propagating an urban mentality. To be urban in Sarajevo means to participate in Sarajevo as an urban community. The station addresses itself primarily to the people who constitute the urban population but it also tries to create and educate such audience. It transmits around the clock.
„Radio 99“, managed by Adil Kulenović, is privately owned radio station which gained its popularity during the war. It brings together young journalists and those who were not journalists before the war, but became attracted by the spirit of civil resistance.
The station operates from a basement and is powered by a battery.
The troupe „Surrealists“ was one of the most popular satirical comedy troupes in the former Yugoslavia. They have a show „Microphone on Duty“, produced by Boro Kontić, on the Radio Sarajevo First Program. Their satire on the radio, transmitted every Sunday, is a smash hit with a society at war. „Mustering up humour in the face of death and despair has been an antidote for the war. Members of the comedy troupe Surrealist Hit Parade are applying the medicine in Sarajevo, lobbing barbs on the radio while all around them shells are falling“

(The New York Times, July 6, 1993).

Boro Kontic
He was born in 1955, graduated from the Law College in 1977 in Sarajevo. He began working for Sarajevo Radio in 1975. From 1979 to 1985 he edited the cult radio show in which members of the group “Top List of Surrealists” began their work, as well as the following rock bands: “No Smoking,” “Elvis J. Kurtovic” and “Red Apple.” In 1991 he received the first prizes at the festivals “Prix Italia” and “Prix Futura” - Berlin, for his radio documentary “Jazztime.”

THE SIEGE
In May 1992 he became a member of the war management board of Radio Television Bosnia-Herzegovina. Next year he worked as a journalist-editor at Radio B-H. In 1994 he became a free-lancer and a correspondent for the “Voice of America”. In 1992 he received the annual award of Bosnian journalists for the radio project of the year. In September 1993 he received the first award at “Prix Italia” for the documentary “Sniper.”

It there were life after life, in what shape would you return?
I am more interested in geographical space.

How do you describe perfect happiness?
I don’t get it.

What is you biggest loss?
I don’t pay attention to extremes.

What is your biggest gain?
-

When and where were you happiest?
I am still waiting.

What are your lost illusions?
I never had too many.

Describe your day at work.
Too common for description.

Sarajevo?
The only place with trees that I know very well.

What words don’t you use anymore?
Not words as much as telephone numbers.

In your opinion, is morale a virtue?
Yes.

Where would you like to live?
In an apartment of 100 square meters.

How have you survived?
Somehow.

What are you afraid of?
The question mark is too small.

Does the past exist for you?
Yes.

This is the end of a civilization. What will the next one be like?
Similar.

Can you give us a recipe for mental health?
Getting up early.

How would you like to die?
I don’t know.

Do you need hope to live?
Yes.

What did ’92 look like, and ’93, and ’94?
As a line that has logic.

How would you call this period of your life?
Alcoholism.

Your message from the end of the world, from a country of last things?
When I get there, I’ll give you a call.

Do you like life, and what is life all about?
Yes. Fortunately, it is simpler that this questionnaire.

THE RADIO TELEVISION BUILDING

The massive cement building which had been built to comply with war-time standards of construction suffered frequent shelling. It was one of the first buildings shelled by a modified airplane bomb, an invention of the Serbian commander accused of war crimes by the Hague court in 1996. On that occasion the building underwent the heaviest damage. Even that did not stop the broadcasting. The reports from Sarajevo by foreign television crews were all made in the building.

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