Tag Archives: Bulgaria

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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The other side of MAJI

Monday blues is a common syndrome after enjoying the long weekend. Today’s MA Journalism (International) class turned the usual rut into a pleasure.

As part of the Online Journalism class, we had to write a profile about someone from our comfort zone … one of our classmates. The morning session involved learning about the basics of interviewing and writing profiles.

The afternoon session was the assignment of writing the profile. We swooped across class to find a friend to profile. Someone whom we barely knew or hardly ever spoke to since the last two months would now become friends we had to write about.

The task

We had to write profiles about one another and take an “informative” profile picture. Though we worked in pairs, it was surprising to see students open up to one another and describe their entire life in 20 minutes. The enthusiasm was very evident. The interview time was extremely chaotic with the newsroom doubling up as a studio where students were posing for the profile picture. We had one hour to write the profile in 400 words, upload it onto our group news blogs and print it for assessment.

It was indeed a pleasure to interview Mladen Petkov, a former Bulgarian military man and now a radio jockey. After the long conversation with Mladen, it was difficult to describe the interesting young man in just 400 words.

At 4.29 pm, there was a scramble at the printers to print the profile to submit for assessment. At the end of the day, we were all tired. What a day!!!

The aftermath …

I got home from class and visited the four news blogs. I read all the profiles that were uploaded to the news blogs and was surprised to know that all my classmates had very interesting stories behind them. I got great insights into their lives. What seemed to be a dull and boring day turned out to be very fruitful.

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