Bits 'n' Pieces: Russian Hour aims to engage

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter

Published:

 
photoGalina Burley announced plans Tuesday to run for the Vancouver City Council. Photo courtesy of Galina Burley

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When Galina Burley launched her Russian radio show in the spring, she didn't think of it as much more than a platform to discuss her campaign for Vancouver City Council.

But when she lost in the primary, the show took on a life of its own.

"I started in April to do a little interview about my campaign, and the owner asked me if I was interested in doing my own show," Burley, 37, said of Russian Radio 7. "At first it was just me talking about political issues, but after I lost I decided to stay on."

Burley, who originally hails from Sochi, Russia, has transformed her show into a platform to discuss a wide variety of topics and to try to help the 30,000 or so people in Clark County's Russian-speaking community.

Busy agenda

Her guests include politicians, social workers and employers who take questions and provide details about laws, language issues, ballot measures and other things.

"It's a combination of social issues, and I get a lot of calls," Burley said.

A lot of people ask her about work, language and property issues. Many are seniors who have had difficulty integrating into the American culture.

"I'm trying to use it to move forward with my plan to engage the local Slavic community," Burley said.

That's not to say she's planning on running again for office anytime soon; she said she's more interested in just helping people at this point.

"In the election it was 20-hour days," Burley said. "We worked so hard. I was barely home, and I have three children. I think my husband was more upset than I was. I said, 'You know, it's a blessing.'"

And Burley is still packing her schedule with volunteer work, when she's not working in her day job as a human services manager for Clackamas County.

Volunteer work

Her newest volunteer project is with Southwest Washington's Middle Class Alliance, which is an effort to preserve and advocate for the middle class. Her job, when she begins in a few weeks, will be to recruit, educate and manage new members.

"It's a really cool effort," she said.

As for the radio show, she expects it to continue in the same format for the foreseeable future.

"For now my hope is to educate the local community and build capacity over time," Burley said. "After the election people acted like I went away, but I'm not gone. I'm still here. And I hope I'll be able to keep helping people."

"Russian Hour" airs at 4 p.m. Sundays on 1010 AM. Visit http://russianradio7.com for more information.

Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email bits@columbian.com.