[Editor’s note: This story was originally published on Hromadske Radio.]

Hromadske Radio used all possibilities of the six-month Transition Accelerator from International Press Institute (IPI) to reach a new online audience during the war with Russia. The most challenging steps were the implementation of TTS (Text to Speech) technology on the site and introducing our audio content on the smart speakers.

TTS  is an absolutely new option for Ukraine because the Ukrainian language hadn’t been supported by all main TTS market players until recently. This situation changed only in 2022, as a new era of AI has started. After many tests and additional research, the team decided to implement a TTS from Google Cloud, one of the most trusted and reliable cloud providers for the last decade. This innovative feature has given its results — it has increased the number of all audio plays at hromadske.radio by 20% since it was introduced a few months ago.

The goal to introduce Hromadske Radio’s content on smart speakers has been one of the most difficult to achieve. After a series of experiments with our audio content in different languages and advice from our IPI mentors, we decided to focus on the English language. The main reason is the following: as for now, all the main smart speakers platforms practically do not support the Ukrainian language audio content. That’s why the team relaunched its original podcast Ukraine Calling in English, with one of the most famous and prominent Ukrainian journalists Andriy Kulykov as its host. Hromadske Radio now distributes it through all three main platforms  (Google Podcasts, Amazon Music and Apple Podcasts)  to make it available for Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri.

But Hromadske Radio’s Digital Director Serhii Omelchenko decided to go further in implementing the original goal of expanding the audience. He conceived the idea of a podcast news digest done with the help of AI: original Ukrainian language news is being translated into the English language, and then transformed into podcast episodes through the TTS. The team has already started the process of producing it and works on improving its quality.

Hromadske Radio used the accelerator from IPI not only to acquire a new digital audience and enhance its digital audio offer, but also to get new interesting product ideas from accelerator participants and mentors.

For example, we decided to add some extra monetization features like pre-rolls to our TTS as well as invest more in hosting upgrades to improve the website speed and protection. The team also made a decision to implement more AI technologies in everyday newsroom life: it has been already using “audio into text AI converters”, as well as chat GPT, to provide its audience with full transcripts of Hromadske Radio’s best live shows.


The Transition Accelerator is part of the Media Innovation Europe (MIE) project, co-funded by the European Commission. The programme is led by the International Press Institute, and implemented in collaboration Thomson Media, the Media Development Foundation and BIRN and is intended to empower media outlets as they navigate the digital transition, giving them journalistic tools and skills in diverse products and business structures in order to reach audiences and bring sustainability.