Interview with Dr. Victor Akhterov, FEBC Director for Russia and Ukraine
Recently the Russian government shut down FEBC’s stations in Moscow and St. Petersburg. What happened?
The government did not renew our license to broadcast on AM frequencies. The main reason is our proclamation of the Gospel.
This was never announced to us officially, of course. Why would they silence programs that help avert dozens of suicides, enable adoption of hundreds of orphans or save thousands from drug addiction? When asked, an official sneered, “We know who you are”. Fortunately, we also know who we are.
Is that the end of FEBC’s ministry in Russia?
Absolutely not! About a year ago we developed a Strategic Plan, outlining our future goals:
• Phase out AM broadcasting within three years, while continuing to develop FM broadcasting.
• Seriously invest in online and smart phone broadcasting, as well as other new technologies.
• Invest more into programming, to be better than secular broadcasters as we share the Gospel.
These latest developments simply push us into that direction, only faster.
How reliable are these new technologies? It’s possible to be lost in the world of the Internet.
Or, you can be found. This morning I heard from one of our broadcasters who got 12,000 new listeners in two days after using an additional online tool!
Smart phone apps, multiple websites, videocasting, YouTube and Periscope, social networks plus FM and satellite broadcasting – this is how we will reach new people.
In 2015, we had more than half a million online listeners. This number will grow as we promote our broadcasts and engage with this audience.
It is free to broadcast online, right?
I wish! To reach millions of people, we have to invest in:
• Quality, God-inspired programming
• Studios and portable equipment
• Fee-based online listener connections
• Online promotions
• Personnel skilled in new technologies
Formerly, we spent 50 cents to acquire a new radio listener in Russia. Now we are getting twice the return for that investment: 25 cents per online listener.
With the same budget, we hope to double our listenership, and to be available wherever Russian-speakers live (260 million at last count).
What about Ukrainians?
There is a lot of promise in Ukraine. I don’t want to share anything prematurely, but God is opening new doors in this country.
Ukraine is going through a pivotal time in its history. It requires separate programming altogether as it becomes less and less like Russia, though with many of the same problems: teen suicide, alcoholism, drug addiction and hopelessness. Ukrainians need Christ.
A central programming centre in Kiev will broadcast using the same tools as in Russia. The ministry is also growing in Odessa – a key city on the Black Sea—and in Eastern Ukraine, still a conflict zone.
What does all this mean for supporters of FEBC Russia and Ukraine?
1. We need your prayer. These are new realities for us. We must move quickly to take advantage of new technologies, as we operate in an ever-changing political environment.
a. Pray for government decisions on our applications for several FM licenses in Ukraine.
b. Pray for our brand new additional online channel for office workers in Russia.
2. We need your financial support. There is a great deal to do before we are completely up to speed. Infrastructure, information and people. As I mentioned, our investment can bring greater results but only if we maintain a large-scale operation.
3. We need your faithfulness. We know that God is behind this, although His Enemy is taking the credit. God’s plans for us are to prosper and bless. Don’t be discouraged by what seems to be an obstacle.
It is a privilege to work together for the goal of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ.