From the Bulgarian border to a radio station

For Mladen Petkov, the Bulgarian Army taught him that life was not a bed of roses.

Since his childhood, Mladen enjoyed a comfortable life and was spoiled by his

Mladen Petkov

parents. On 1 April 1997, his friends told him to join the Bulgarian Army. What was supposed to be an April Fool’s Day prank, turned out to be true when he received a phone call asking him to join the Army.

Mladen joined the Bulgarian military as part of the compulsory military service when he was 17-years-old. “I did not like it as I was forced into it,” says Mladen. He was posted at a railway station at the border of Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece and had to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country.

The challenges

During his time in the army, Mladen faced several challenges. Right from rigorous training regimes to long hours of work and horrible living conditions, Mladen battled it all with courage. “We lived in a forest and had to cut wood and use it to cook food,” says Mladen.

During winter, Mladen had to battle the freezing cold. “One traveller coming from Germany gave me expensive whiskey and I drank 200 ml of it,” he says.

Mladen did not like the hierarchy there as Superiors used to bully them several times. “One day I reached saturation point and threw my helmet and said that I will not do anymore work. As a result of that, the superiors told all of us to run 5 kilometres more,” Mladen informs.

Life after the army

At the end of his one-year stint with the army, Mladen came out as a mature young man who had learnt many lessons for life. He says, “I have learned about positive thinking and how not to be bogged down by what people do or say.” Mladen can now detect a fake passport with just a glance.

After completing his military service, Mladen returned to his first love – the radio. Mladen has worked on several profiles in different radio stations since the last 14 years. He worked as a newscaster on FM Plus. He then went to Radio Atlantic in Sofia as a weekend radio jockey and went on to become the interim programme director. “I did not like being the programme director as it involved shooting down peoples ideas and firing them,” Mladen says.

Mladen has a bachelors degree in Clinical Social Work. He had to conduct interviews with drug addicts. Interviewing drug addicts has been his most fulfilling interview.Interviewing them has improved his interviewing skills on the radio. “While interviewing people, the interviewer and the interviewee are always at the same level,” says Mladen Petkov.

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