Ukrainian ArmyFM and Military TV update – Spirit of America and the Civil–Military Partnership in Action

I recently returned from Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, where I continued Spirit of America’s (SoA) ongoing support for US diplomats working alongside Ukrainian Army colleagues at ArmyFM and Ukrainian Military TV.

Spirit of America’s supporters provided the initial investment to launch the ArmyFM operation that now serves as a primary morale-boosting source of information and entertainment for Ukrainian troops fighting to defend freedom and national sovereignty on Ukraine’s frontlines in Eastern Ukraine.

Sunset over Maidan Square. Once the epicenter of 2014 protests known as Euromaidan, the square is now in a peaceful location full of families and tourists enjoying beautiful summer evenings. It is also full of memorials and monuments to mark the struggle and sacrifice of ordinary Ukrainian citizens who sacrificed everything to forge the path for a new Ukraine.

The ArmyFM and Ukrainian Military TV staffs were eager to report that their situation has never been better. Their viewer and listenership are up, and they are receiving more and more positive feedback from the troops and civilians on the frontlines whom they work to serve. Through their internet streaming broadcast (click here to listen), ArmyFM is also able to serve as a much-welcomed voice of Kyiv to Ukrainians living in the war-torn Donbas region (known amongst Ukrainian soldiers as the Joint Forces Operations area, or JFO). Ukrainian military TV hosts make their content available to the world via the internet as well (click here to watch).

ArmyFM’s success has been dizzying. As a result, SoA’s partners in the US Department of State (DoS) identified the need for the best expert advice possible to assist in finalizing development and expansion plans for the station. As always, SoA was ready to answer the call.

Here, I’m pictured discussing the future with ArmyFM’s acting director, media executive Tom Schurr, and our Department of State Partners in the SoA refurbished Army FM studio. Just before this, based on a request from the ArmyFM crew, we presented the American flag which now stands above the entrance to the studio as a powerful symbol of Ukrainian-American friendship.

To answer this call, we tapped into the assistance of the Gerson Lerman Group (GLG). GLG is a New York based platform for professional learning with a network of experts who provide independent consulting services to business professionals around the world. GLG generously provides their services pro-bono to SoA as part of an ongoing cooperative partnership. The SoA-GLG relationship embodies the best of the US civil-military partnership: applying the most valuable knowledge and skills of the private sector to enable the success of our diplomats and troops in their work on behalf of our nation abroad.

Tom Schurr, our GLG provided expert, delivers real-world insight on cutting edge social media techniques with highly skilled Ukrainian Military TV journalists/Army officers at Ukrainian Military TV’s main office. These officers bravely and routinely risk their lives in service of their nation as they report from Ukraine’s frontlines.

After identifying the key challenges faced by the ArmyFM and Ukrainian Military TV crews and their USG partners to our GLG partners, the firm connected us with one of America’s top media executives, Tom Schurr, who agreed to lend his vast experience with the knowledge to ensure our partner’s continued mission success. Having worked his way from the bottom to the top of the American radio industry, Tom couldn’t have been a more perfect fit for the job.

Tom, our DoS partner and I present the acting director of ArmyFM with an American flag to prominently display in their Kyiv studio. The crew expressed admiration for the respect the American citizens have for our flag and the ideals of liberty that it represents.

Over the course of a week, Tom examined every aspect of ArmyFM and Ukrainian Military TV operations. He was impressed at the devotion and industriousness of the staff, and was able to provide invaluable experience-based counsel on how our Ukrainian friends could increase efficiency, expand their audience, and better serve the entertainment and information needs of the soldiers on the front lines. The professionals of ArmyFM and Ukrainian Military TV were grateful recipients of the advice, positively noting Tom’s wisdom, and was remarkable in potential impact as well as simplicity of application.

We paused our work for a professional group photo with the director of Ukrainian Military TV, media executive Tom Schurr, and our Department of State Partners outside of Kyiv’s Central Officer House, which serves as the home of ArmyFM.

By the end of the week, we all learned a lot. I am proud to have ArmyFM and Ukrainian Military TV as our partner and to provide a connection to experts like Tom Schurr as SoA continues to offer essential support to USG partners and their Ukrainian colleagues working to advance the goal of a secure, free, and independent Ukraine.

Tom and I spent our time off with these Ukrainian Army officers in Kyiv’s famous Veterano Pizza restaurant. Veterano Pizza is a business owned, run, and staffed by Ukrainian Army veterans. The business was an impetus for a Ukrainian movement to expand employment options and the economic success of veterans of the Ukrainian Army after they transition to civilian life. The wall behind us is filled with Ukrainian and allied military unit insignias added by patrons. (Read more here).

Stay tuned as for more updates on SoA’s unique and invaluable work with ArmyFM and Ukrainian Military TV and our ongoing partnership with GLG and seasoned media expert and American patriot Tom Schurr.

Doing my best to channel my inner Howard Stern in the Army FM studio as the crew broadcasts news, information, and entertainment to Ukrainian troops fighting on the frontlines. I’m wearing the traditional Ukrainian “vyshyvanka” folk shirt. Once thought to be a talisman to protect the wearer from evil spirits, the vyshyvanka now serves as a distinctly Ukrainian equivalent to a shirt and tie.

Until next time,
Nick Israel

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