Mongolian television announcer Sh.Byambatsogt received the State Honored Cultural Worker title earlier this year. He currently works at the MM agency of the Mongolian National Broadcaster (MNB). He spoke about what it’s like to be a television announcer in Mongolia in the interview below.
Congratulations on being awarded the State Honored Cultural Worker title. When were you informed of the good news?
I received a phone call from the President’s Office at 5:28 p.m. on February 22. The caller told me that I was receiving the State Honored Cultural Worker title and congratulated me. The news choked me up. I couldn’t separate from the tissue box for probably around five minutes afterwards. My tears were pouring out. It was obviously because I was so happy. I mean, I was getting such a prestigious state title after working in this sector for 26 years. I wouldn’t have been that excited had I been working here for only around 10 years and not accomplished much. I was so grateful that my colleagues, friends, engineers, technicians, cameramen, reporters, editors, the audience, and everyone else recognized my efforts.
I assessed that I haven’t lived in vain. The root of all of this is the 50-year-old MNB and 80-year-old Mongolian national radio, and everyone who gave their best in this line of work all these years. I was able to come thus far thanks to them. I believe that this title is the state’s acknowledgement of television staff of all times. I can never fully express how grateful I am to my peers and listeners. I will continue the legacy of announcers, the voices of the Mongolian state, and pass it onto the next generation.
Can you tell us how you first entered MNB? Why did you decide to join the television sector?
MNB was called the State Committee of Radio and Television when I first joined it in 1987. I used to repeat after radio personalities even when they said difficult and long titles such as Deputy Speaker of Parliament of the Mongolian People’s Republic Bayanmunkh Khorloo and Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party’s Central Committee secretary. I liked hearing these titles. Moreover, I really enjoyed arts and culture classes, and especially liked singing and dancing when I was in school. Seeing these interests, my father thought I would make a good television presenter and took me to the State Committee of Radio and Television. Back then, I had just finished high school. A lot of people brag about how they were selected from 300 or 400 applicants. But it wasn’t like that in my case. I went along with my father because I was purely interested in this career. I think my father tried to find connections at the company. I’m from Khentii Province. State Honored Cultural Worker Jargal, who was the director of the State Committee of Radio and Television at the time, journalist Jagaa and TV announcer Khartsaga were from Khentii Province as well. They auditioned me and were pretty impressed. They told me I had a good voice and hired me.
So you found a job right after high school?
That’s right. I graduated from a school in Bor-Undur soum of Khentii Province. Since then, I’ve been working in the television industry. I was first assigned to help the assistant director. I was later promoted to an assistant director and then, intern announcer. I got my announcer’s license in 1993. I tried to learn as much as possible from everyone, but announcer Khartsaga was the one from whom I learned the most. I had many good seniors who gave me advice like State Honored Cultural Worker Tsendkhand, Chuluunbat, Batbayar, Dorjbat, Jantsan, Khishigeer and Ragchaa.
...On the first day of Tsagaan Sar, I reported to work instead of greeting my parents. I haven’t greeted them during Tsagaan Sar for a couple of years now. My parents come to me. I never asked for a day off to greet my parents on holidays. I seem to be very old-fashioned – I follow socialist views. I think this drives me to work harder…
How nervous were you on your first broadcast as an announcer?
Going on air was my biggest aspiration. Just by saying “Hello” through broadcasting seemed like a huge deal for me. I feared doing a live broadcast – probably because I was still young. I was finally going to be seen by viewers on television after working for years at the television station. The last step of broadcasting is presenting news. Announcers receive the latest and hottest news from journalists and newsrooms. Announcers are supposed to deliver that news to the audience while it’s still “hot” and untouched. We must give facts as we’re the bridge connecting the state and public. It’s an important responsibility so I feel quite proud but also pressured to be more responsible.
In my opinion, MNB is a more traditional television compared to others. It states the truth without exaggeration or falsification. A whole team of journalists, editors, cameramen, directors, technicians and more prepare each news story. Some television broadcasts seems to share news prepared by only a cameraman and reporter. I believe that news can be more professionally prepared by a whole team.
Is it true that your father was an artist? Can you briefly talk about your parents?
My father is called Shagdarjav. He worked as a music conductor for the Khan Khentii ensemble before he retired. My mother, on the other hand, was a doctor. She also retired now. They’re looking after their grandchildren back in our home place – Khentii Province.
My wife is an English teacher. I have three beautiful daughters. The oldest has gone abroad to get her master’s degree. My second child is studying in middle school. My wife and I had our youngest daughter quite late. My daughter entered school this year.
Would you say you’re a good father? How much time do you spend with your family?
I try to make as much time for my family as possible. I like to cook whenever I have free time. I try to cook the cuisines I had in restaurants. Sometimes, I like to make my own recipes and cook new dishes.
To be honest, I pushed back family time when I was young. But in the last three to four years, I’ve been increasing the time I spend with my family. At least, that’s what I think. Before, I was devoted to my work. It was for my sake actually. If I work harder, I can earn more money. As hard as I work, I strive to deliver good programs and shows to the audience. I worked day and night without sleep or food and even ignored illnesses. I didn’t care about celebrations and holidays. On the first day of Tsagaan Sar, I reported to work instead of greeting my parents. I haven’t greeted them during Tsagaan Sar for a couple of years now. My parents come to me. I never asked for a day off to greet my parents on holidays. I seem to be very old-fashioned – I follow socialist views. I think this drives me to work harder.
Do people recognize you on the street? How do they react?
My current job and career is wonderful. Everyone treats me so well. People are really friendly when I go to the countryside. They seem to mistake me for their relative at first. They ask my wellbeing which gets me confused. I used to try to remember who they are but no one would come to my mind. Nowadays, I’m more used to it. Since they see my face and hear my voice on the television and radio often, they mistake me for their acquaintance or distant relative. After a while, most people remember that I’m an announcer. Similar incidences occur all the time. The public trusts that I will give them accurate information so in return, I try to do a better job.
There are many children and young people aspiring to become television and radio stars. What would you advise them?
Media and press organizations have increased in number. Of course, I would listen to young journalists. I don’t really like to blatantly criticize. I share some of my know-hows when I meet a young journalist. Instead of harshly criticizing their work, I try to find their good sides, advise them on improving that area and give them some suggestions. It’s better to talk while looking at the other person’s eyes. You shouldn’t look down as if you’ve done something bad. I often tell announcers to correctly take breaks in between sentences and breathe correctly while interviewing people.
When you’re on live broadcast, you can’t do well if you worry about your clothes, accessories, tie or outfit. You can’t reach the audience or viewers. I try to imagine that I’m talking with a close friend when I’m interviewing people so I don’t feel shy and everything we discuss is understandable for anyone. Nobody stutters when speaking with their parents. I hope I can continue working in the media sector for a long time. I hope that media representatives don’t become acquainted with politicians and work with integrity as journalists.