Located so near to Balapan Train Station, just around 2 minutes walk, RRI Surakarta is one of offices with interesting vintage building in Solo city. Its classic and grandeur style easily attracts the attention those who pass Abdul Rachman Saleh Street of Kestalan Banjarsari.
For me, this place is more than special. This was the office where my mom worked in finance department until she got retired. So, definitely this place contains a lot of memory for me; from the moment I dropped and picked up my mom to/from work, eating delicious fried chicken with fresh spicy sambal bawang (chilli condiment) in its canteen, or just enjoying the atmosphere of radio station with its busy stuffs.
Ya, RRI (Radio Republik Indonesia) Surakarta is Solo city branch of state radio network of Indonesia. Besides its main function as radio station, it’s also well known to regularly perform Wayang Wong (literally means human puppet show), Wayang Kulit (shadow puppet show, and other traditional performances like keroncong music show. Thus, RRI Surakarta is very well appreciated as the institution who actively preserves traditional arts and cultures.
In every performance of Wayang Wong and Wayang Kulit for example, many people come enthusiastically, not only from Solo city but also from some other cities around like Karanganyar, Sukoharjo, Wonogiri, Klaten, Boyolali, Sragen, and Yogyakarta. This is surprising and a relief at the same time to know the fact that there are still many people are interested in to see that traditional performances. It is eventually successful way to preserve culture last longer, isn’t it.
Another interesting service by RRI Surakarta for me is it gives the opportunity for kids to experience how to be on air like. Kids are allowed to access the radio studio to sing, read a poem, and tell the story live. Don’t worry whether many kids can enter the studio at the same time. In fact, the studio is huge.
RRI Surakarta itself actually has a long history to tell. Its existence for the first time was because of the idea of King Mangkunegoro VII who would like to spread the audio of traditional Javanese performances widely. In 1932, he gave radio transmitter to a cultural institution of Mangkunegaran Palace to broadcast the audio of karawitan music performance routinely from Balekambang, a cultural park owned by the palace.
With a help from another palace member, Sarsito Mangunkusumo, the king’s action became more official with the establishment of Solosche Radio Vereneging (SRV) or Solo city radio association in 1933. Today, to respect Sarsito Mangunkusumo’s role, RRI Surakarta’s Wayang Wong Theatre is named after him.
However, its current builiding just started to function since 1963 after King Mangkungara VII granted his 6,000 m² land in Kestalan Banjarsari to be built and utilized as SRV. On its operation, uniquely it only used Bahasa Jawa (Javanese language).
Shorty, soon after the independence, SRV was then nationalised by Indonesian Government as RRI as part of Indonesian media network.
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