Memories of Sarajevo – Radio Documentaries


Memories of Sarajevo series is about the Siege of Sarajevo – told from the personal recollections of refugees in Australia , written records of the account of the siege and war in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the music recorded during the siege. This project began with a song Bay FM presenter Karena Wynn-Moylan wrote in 1998 and sent to Radio Zid, a community run radio station that broadcast throughout the siege and war in Sarajevo.

In“ Memories of Sarajevo: Radio Zid Karena has commemorated this extraordinary example of community radio , one that endured bombings , sniper fire, the death of many of its volunteer staff, to tell their story. The story is told with a background soundtrack of historic music produced in Sarajevo cellars while under siege, and interviews with former Radio Zid staff and Bosnian refugees who now live in Australia.


The original song that Karena wrote forms the centrepiece of episode two“ Memories of Sarajevo’ The myths and the Legends. Here the iconic tale of Admira and Bosko, the lovers who died on the bridge escaping from the war is again recounted in a new arrangement and also described is the reaction from many of Bosnia’s and the worlds creative artists to the trauma of the siege.


Memories of Sarajevo: Singing a new song is the recollections and experiences of Bosnian refugees in Sydney plus interviews with members of the Blue River Choir , a choir composed entirely of Bosnian refugees, and observations by Olivera Simic , an authority on PTSD in refugees. In addition to the Bosnian rock in episode one , and the new Memories of Sarajevo song by Karena, there is a haunting original piano score by Ken Naughton.

Memories of Sarajevo is a series of three long-form documentaries produced for radio. Funds for this project was provided by a grant from the Community Broadcasting Foundation.

We invite you to share these programs with your listeners, and would love to receive any feedback you have about the programs.

1. The Siege of Sarajevo, from 1992 to 1996 was the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare. Campaigns of unrelenting violence against Sarajevans reduced them to a state of medieval deprivation and constant fear of death. Nowhere was safe from deliberate attack. 

2. RadioZid, the local community radio station, continued to broadcast under such extreme circumstances and through three winters of -15 °C.

3. Zid broadcast in English, a deliberate policy to use the language of neutrality in Bosnia. People of all ethnic groups were alerted to dangers and whereabouts of water. There were no schools, Zid broadcast lessons.

4. This series of documentaries will highlight the integral role community radio played in the siege, including historical material about how Zid operated under these circumstances, the role it fulfilled and life in Sarajevo.

5. Zid provided a platform for disenfranchised youth by broadcasting the distinctive music created by them during this time, often during bombing raids, the only safe time to play without being detected.

6. Preliminary interviews with Sarajevan refugees now in Australia reveal many have not spoken about their experiences until now, 20 years later. The documentaries will provide insight into this little studied group by bringing to light previously unheard stories, adding engagement and interpretation outcomes from and for the Bosnian community and perhaps promote reconciliation amongst this community.

7. Australia, and the world face ever increasing number of refugees, these documentaries will encourage Australians to consider reasons refugees flee their homelands, the importance of providing safety and security for people fleeing persecution and the positive contributions refugees make to Australian society. Over 200,000 refugess from Sarajevo were resettled across the world, with over 30,000 refugees coming to Australia during and after the war.

We invite you to find out more about this project – check out Karena Wynn-Moylan’s blog here