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The world is my home
Living up the saying of his fellow countryman Hans Christian Andersen „To travel is to live“, the unconventional radio journalist visited Skopje as part of his 4-year trip around the world
Who says that radio is dead? Even back in 1979 the world was convinced that “The video killed the radio star”, according to the hit of the British pop duo “The Buggles”. Their video was a hit on MTV that year as well as the following ones, and very often, as in this case, was used as an illustration whenever the topic was new media. The history very often seems to be karma, so at the beginning of the new millennia there was a parody song “The internet killed the video star”, which celebrated the new medium. However, the Danish radio journalist Palle Bo (51) is one of those who believes that the radio is not dead, but in the contrary. These days he was in Skopje, one of the cities on his great route across the world visiting more than 100 countries. But, let’s leave this for later.
Bo is working in the radio for over 30 years. And as the story usually goes, first it was his hobby and then he made it his business. He was radio moderator, a DJ, also moderating a comedy show, working in the sales and marketing, as well as managing a local radio station and making radio ads. With few friends he started a radio station, one they wanted to listen to. Today he is co-owner of 10 local radio stations in Denmark, a weekly newspaper, a tourist agency, even some buildings and houses in Nicaragua… – “When I was working in the radio business, some continuously spoke that the radio is dead and that the internet is everything; that people would like to listen to their music choices, like the ones downloaded on Spotify… but if you have a radio on local level that interesting, and has personal content in its program, it will be listened to” – explains Bo his formula for a successful radio.
Palle Bo is among the most rewarded radio producers in Denmark.
The radio as a destiny
The biggest publicity in the history of radio most probably happened in 1938 in the USA on Halloween night, when at that time young Orson Welles has broadcasted live the Herbert G. Wells “War of the worlds”. Many listeners panicked and fled their homes, believing that the alien invasion really took place. Today’s radio does not have that influence. -“Of course that today it’s completely different situation, but the radio has still media influence” – says Bo.
When we talk about the history of the radio, a lot of media theorists say that Adolf Hitler has become national-socialist dictator because of his speeches on the radio and vice versa, if the television was already invented, he would never become the ‘Führer’ as he wasn’t photogenic and due to his unreasonable face and arm expressions. However, nowadays although political leaders cannot imagine their popularity without television, the question remains how Donald Trump with all of his reality shows has managed to become a presidential candidate? “With his face and haircut, I am surprised how he could be on TV at all” – answers Bo with a smile on his face.
He worked on many campaigns of Danish politicians and political parties and says that he really enjoyed the creation of those campaigns and political messages. “I tried to make them sound differently than the “normal” campaigns, which are boring when politicians are just reading some written speeches. That is why, I talked to many politicians as I do with everybody, and wanted to have them relaxed, so I could get the real message of their political believes. Normal campaigns are boring, and in one campaign for one politicians we even came to the message, that she doesn’t like politics. But, she was so charming and interesting, that she was elected in the parliament” – explains Bo, who during last election year in Denmark, made over 130 ads for different political candidates and parties and has also received several prices for his radio campaigns.
He also said that Denmark, a country with about 5.5 million, has 3.5 million radio listeners.
Phobia from Xenophobia
„Is there something rotten in the state of Denmark?“ is an usual question and quote from Shakespeare’s „Hamlet” that the locals would start a conversation with someone from Denmark. “There isn’t anything rotten, as far as I know” – smiles Bo, as he answers the question. That’s why is not strange to see that millions of people from the third world countries, even paying with their lives, are trying to flee their poor countries or destroyed from wars, so they could come to the West. Also to Denmark. But two months ago, Bo headed to the opposite direction – to the East.
“The flying Dutchman”, Wagner’s opera is a known synonym for a world traveler. Our guest in the next four years will be the „travelling Danish“. Up to now he has visited 7 countries from Eastern Europe, from Latvia over to Ukraine to Bulgaria. He usually stays 5 to 7 days in their capitals, and Skopje is his eight destination during this short period. The next one is Belgrade. “I am very glad that in every country I am able to make friends. When you live in one place, you stay in your room and you listen about people around the world, but you really don’t have any idea what are these people like, such as in North Korea. When you meet them, when you talk to them and when you see them in the eyes, you see that they are same like you. I think that in Denmark and a lot of other Western countries there is xenophobia. Also there are political parties that are against refugees, saying that they are different than us, they have different scent and they eat different food, they speak different language and that is why they have to be expelled. I say – the should stay!” – says Bo decisive.
During his “life journey”, Bo is taping conversations with the locals as well as his impressions and he broadcasts these on radiovagabond.dk. “From every trip I am publishing a podcast of about 20 minutes, together with some photographs. There is a positive response from the listeners and I really have fun doing it” – says Bo. He does think that 5 to 7 days is not enough to feel the pulse of one city, so he is trying to slow down and to stay longer in one location. He tries not to stay in hotels, and he usually uses AirBnB, but he also rents only a sofa. “I am practicing this kind of “tourism” so I could feel how people really live. In Chisinau, Moldova, the first day I stayed in a room, the second in a luxury hotel, and the third day I rented just a sofa in a small apartment in a poor family. Sleeping on that sofa, was the best experience. It was authentic, local, I gained a friend, I met his kids and their cat slept on my head. It was really special comparing to the hotels that are mostly the same” – tells us Bo, who also tries to eat local food.
“All you need is just a sofa to feel good” Palle Bo
His countrymen usually travel to Spain, USA or some exotic places. Bo believes that his way of traveling is reveals much more. “Skopje’s center was very beautiful, especially the lightening at night. People are smiling and are very friendly. I have visited several very beautiful locations, like the Macedonian Ethno Village and the monastery “St. Panteleon” in Nerezi. I was told that some people have remarks that Skopje’s streets are not that clean, but the center was pretty clean to me. Also, in Copenhagen outside of the central area, you will come across to streets that are not that clean” – Bo is comparing Skopje to other cities. After Belgrade he is planning to go to Armenia, Georgia, then Qatar, Dubai and then far East. In September he will be back in Denmark for a week, where he will hold some lectures and then he will continue his journey. “When I started my journey, I sold my house, the furniture, my car, as well as my wife. What I have left are few books and at the moment I do not have a home address. “My daughters will join me on some locations” – explains Bo his family and housing situation as he smiles.
During his travel he creates and makes radio ads. With the new technologies that is possible to do also on the rented bed, far away from Copenhagen. “ I am a digital nomad. I believe that in the future a lot of people will do their job from different locations in the world, because they are connected” – says Bo. Marco Polo, the trader from Venice in the 13th and 14th century has travelled the world until China along the “Silk Road”. What does Bo would like to take from the East? “My passion is to make good radio and I would like to take my experience. The well-known author Hans Chrisitan Andersen said “ To travel is to live”. And he was right” – says Bo finishing our talk.
I sold 10 radio stations so I could travel the world
The Danish radio moderator plans to visit 100 countries in 4 years
The Danish radio moderator Palle Bo visited Skopje last week, as his 8th stop on his route of 100 countries that he plans to visit in the next 4 years.
Bo (51), a graphic designer that works in the radio since 1985, owned 10 radio stations and 2 newspapers, but last year he sold his belongings and as of July this year he started his big journey. As he travels, in each city he visits, he works on his radio podcast that is aired on the Danish National Radio.
“I got this idea 3 years ago, when I was living in Cape Town for 2 months. I have two daughters, 19 and 22 and I knew that one day they would leave home. My older one moved to London last year and the younger one last month. That’s how I realized that I don’t have anything in Denmark. My work enables me to work anywhere as long as I have a computer and internet. I thought I could be a digital nomad. When I was in Cape Town I felt that the listeners do not care whether I am in Berlin or Africa. I came to Denmark with the idea that there are so many places to visit. I really enjoy traveling and meeting people.
I put a world map on the kitchen wall and every time I was drinking coffee I marked the places I wanted to visit. Then, I just connected the dots and I started the journey” tells us the journalist during his visit in “Vest”.
From Denmark I flew to Talin, from there to Riga where I rented a car and drove to Vilnius and from there another flight to Kiev. His first plan was to continue to Poland, but his friends advised him to visit Moldova. After that he went on and with a bus came to Romania. He reached Sofia with a train, and from there he came to Skopje with a bus.
“I would like to stay a month in each country, but I am moving pretty fast at the moment and I feel that I have to slow down a bit. I have to reflect on my impressions, and as it seems the journey might last over 4 years” says Bo.
He added that since he started his trip he didn’t faced any unpleasant situation, although he got a lot of warnings from his family and friends.
“When I travel I use 2 weapons – my smile and my common sense. The world is not a dangerous place to live in. I will not allow the fear to control my life.
Of course that I am cautious and I do not show my money and iPhone in narrow and dark streets.
The only unpleasant situation I had was in Kiev, but that was my fault. I forgot my iPad on the plane and had to go through a lot of offices and documents to get it back. As long as I am not killed or have to pay a lot of money, I am satisfied with trying different things”, he smiles.
“If you allow fear to control you, you would not experience anything. You could be kidnapped anywhere or even run over by a car.
Last year I lost my parents and that only made me more committed to travel. You have to live until you can, you never know what might happen”, highlights Bo.
When he stays in a city, he tries to avoid hotels, because as he tells us, they are almost the same everywhere and if he stays in the best hotel in Singapore he might have the feeling that he is in Copenhagen. That is why, he stays in apartments and he wants to use the services of the couch surfing community more.
“I want to experience the local feeling, to live like the locals. For me that is the most valuable thing, to see how one lives in that place” ends Bo, telling us that his next station would be Belgrade.
Bo tapes the sounds of the cities
During his journey, beside the podcast he also records the sounds for his project “The sound of the cities”.
“I am trying to record with my microphone the sounds of the cities. I record the different sounds of the cars, voices and collect little things. Sometimes I even ask myself and I try to guess where I have recorded that sound.
Most places sound similar, especially if you do not understand the language, but if you are at a market in India or Dubai, the sounds would be different”, says Bo.
(In the oval 2nd page): “I am a digital nomad. My work enables me to work from anywhere, as long as I have a computer and internet” says the journalist who airs his show on the national Danish radio each week from different country.