Ukraine’s army is searching for its own Robin Williams.
Specifically, it is looking for a charismatic army disc jockey like the one Mr. Williams played in the film “Good Morning, Vietnam” three decades ago.
Alexey Makukhin, an adviser to Ukraine’s military who is helping set up the station, wants a Robin Williams to help with his “big problem.” Troops facing Russian-backed separatists in the east hear a steady barrage of radio and TV broadcasts that seem crafted to sow doubts about their mission.
His solution is Army FM, a radio station for Ukraine’s soldiers. To make it a success he needs a DJ—a great DJ.
Dozens of résumés poured in when word about the plan got out. Mr. Makukhin interviewed about 50 DJ applicants. They were an almost complete bust.
A lot of candidates just do not fit to the role of presenter—poor voice, cannot keep up a discussion or stop themselves,”he says.
Some candidates have a fixed mind-set and are not ready to work in our format of entertaining and friendly radio.
Mr. Makukhin, a 35-year-old former TV sitcom producer, dispatched old colleagues from the military and television worlds to hunt for undiscovered talent.
One military colleague, scouring the front lines where the army faces breakaway provinces, found Lidiya Huzhva.
The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, called the information war in eastern Ukraine part of a larger struggle.
The point of this Russian propaganda is not to win the argument and it is certainly not to illuminate the truth, he said. “It is to confuse. It is part of their arsenal.
Russian officials such as Moscow’s ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Alexander Grushko, say Russia has no direct role in the fighting in Ukraine. Separatist and Russian officials say the reports Westerners call propaganda are factual broadcasts, not controlled by Russia, about Ukrainian government incompetence or corruption. It is the U.S. and Ukraine that are misleading the public, Russian officials say.
In setting up the Ukraine army radio station, Mr. Makukhin has had help from a U.S. nonprofit called Spirit of America. Unlike many nongovernment organizations in war zones that pledge neutrality, this one tries to align its efforts with U.S. objectives.
Read More: WSJ
Featured Image – Alexey Makukhin, center, and Yana Kholodna, right, of Army FM interview Ben Moses, co-producer of the 1987 movie ‘Good Morning Vietnam,’ for an Army FM broadcast. PHOTO: UKRAINIAN MINISTRY OF DEFENSE, WSJ