18 April 2014, Friday
Today's Zaman

‘The baby’s on its way! Which route should we take?’

10 June 2012, Sunday /SALIH ZENGIN
“My wife is having a baby -- which road is the clearest to get to the hospital?” “I am running late for the most important meeting of my life -- which way do I go?” “I am stuck in E-5 highway traffic.

 I need an exit route!” Hundreds of İstanbul residents, who have to deal daily with heavily congested traffic, can get firsthand information and traffic reports from volunteer correspondents, who make up Radyo Trafik.

During İstanbul traffic jams, drivers regularly tune into Radyo Trafik, with its 6,500 volunteer correspondents reporting on the city’s roads. Every day the station receives urgent messages and requests from listeners, such as: “I have to take my wife to the hospital to deliver our baby. Which route is clear?” Or: “I am running late for a meeting. Which route should I take?”

While navigating İstanbul’s congested roads, drivers can rely on the instructions the volunteers broadcast on the radio. Heeding the information given, drivers can thus alter their route or ring the station to share their own advice.

The radio station, launched two years ago under the auspices of Saran Holding, certainly gives the impression that it was created by people who got sick of traffic. Editor-in-Chief Cezayir Doğan says he never expected such huge interest from the beginning. Doğan, who gets at least 300-500 phone calls a day during the three-hour live broadcast, stresses they do not serve as a call center. He gives this explanation because people still ring and ask about the road conditions; they will only help people in dire need.

Drivers appreciate the efforts of the radio station because it is trying to solve the dire traffic problems. The 6,500 volunteers offer accurate and precise information on the overall state of the traffic. Doğan notes the number of people tuning in to the radio increases in the winter.

Ratings depend on traffic jams

The ratings of 104.2 Radyo Trafik depend on the number of traffic jams in İstanbul, and given that traffic will always be a problem in the city, Radyo Trafik will never lose its popularity. Besides, should the traffic issue be resolved, the station will focus on other issues in the city. Plus, they broadcast pop songs. “We are trying to become a city radio station because the city of İstanbul has no media outlet. İstanbul is unable to make its voice heard,” says Doğan.

He says the station is considering broadcasting in Ankara and İzmir, which also suffer from traffic problems. However, for the time being, they are focusing on the Marmara region.

During the live broadcast, alternative routes are offered to the listeners, thanks to suggestions by listeners and volunteers. The station also frequently stresses that drivers should not take a road that is heavily congested but that instead of driving, drivers should go to a restaurant or watch a movie.

The station staff only requests help on traffic matters from its listeners -- not any political advice. Sometimes, Doğan says, they receive some hilarious calls. For instance, a woman called the station to ask if there was a traffic jam on a particular day at a particular time. She asked this information to find out whether her husband was telling her the truth when he said he was late because of a traffic jam on that day.

Radyo Trafik Editor-in-Chief Cezayir Doğan: Alternative route app being developed!

Doğan says the station would like to provide a solution to the city’s traffic problems. To this end, they will hold conferences and offer first aid training to taxi drivers, and invite experts from foreign countries to hear how they have resolved their traffic problems. In addition, they are developing an application on alternative routes for mobile phones.

Baki Şener (inspector): Driver’s license holders should respect themselves first

Baki Şener, a volunteer traffic inspector, randomly tuned into the station one day. He has since become addicted. He then became a volunteer contributor to the station’s live broadcasts. Because of his extensive experience, he was also involved in the training of volunteer correspondents. He joins the live broadcast every day.

Aziz Bora (executive in a private company): “I know alternative routes well”

Because of his profession, Aziz Bora is in traffic every day. He works as an executive in a private company and has to drive to business meetings. Bora discovered Radyo Trafik after a traffic accident and gave them a call. The radio station executives later asked him whether he would like to serve as a volunteer correspondent. He told them he was not qualified for the position but later changed his mind. Bora knows alternate routes well, so he calls to provide information on these. He loves to get together with volunteer correspondents.

Şaban Kayacı (shuttle driver): “I make more money thanks to Radyo Trafik”

Şaban Kayacı discovered the station by chance. He never listened to the radio while driving, but one day he happened to turn it on and the information Doğan was giving on Radyo Trafik caught his attention. He followed the radio broadcasts for a few months, then decided he owed his fellow drivers his knowledge, too. Thanks to the useful information shared during the broadcast, he reckons he saves at least two to three hours a day. Besides, he consumes less fuel, and as a result he believes he makes more money -- all thanks to Radyo Trafik.

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