New Czech Radio podcast traces aftermath of Norway attacks

Utøya Island

Surviving Utoya and Oslo is the title of a new podcast produced by the Czech Radio station Radio Wave. Across seven episodes released in both English and Czech versions, creator Lukáš Houdek speaks to Norwegians who made it through the 2011 attack – and those who had to rebuild their lives when their loved ones never came home. I spoke to Houdek just ahead of the release of the first episode on Tuesday.

Lukáš Houdek | Photo: Veronika Ruppert,  Czech Radio

“The original idea came a few years back, let’s say maybe when it all happened. Because since then, when the attention was kind of fading away, I started to think about how the people who survived, or were touched by something like this, live today. Who are they? How can you survive, how can you continue your life?

“And only now did I get a chance to record it.”

Who were the people you spoke to or profiled?

“I spoke with survivors, I spoke with family members, with people who lost kids on Utoya, for example. And I spoke with a lot of experts, to give me some context.”

Was it hard to get people to open up to you on such a sensitive topic?

Nille | Photo: Lukáš Houdek,  Czech Radio

“For me it’s not very hard when I already meet the people to get them to open up. But it was very hard to get to them, because most of the people are very tired of media attention from before. And they are very used to journalists who want to hear about blood, shots and the kind of things that happened.

“In the end the people who talked to me did so because I was focusing on who they are today. But it was very difficult to get in contact with them.”

How did you manage?

“I managed thanks to the 22 July Centre, which is a museum, or educational institution, and they’re a partner of this podcast.

“They contacted some of the survivors for me, and I contacted some of them myself as well. But I have to say that it was maybe one-third of those we contacted who agreed.”

You must have done a lot of research. What are some of the main things you feel like you learned from making the podcast?

Bjørn | Photo: Lukáš Houdek,  Czech Radio

“For me, the most interesting thing is not from research but is what people told me. And I was really shocked, in a positive way, at how the survivors and bereaved families see the attacker, how they speak about him.

“I think in the Czech Republic they would not give him any mercy – but they kind of fight for his human rights. They really emphasise the need to give him his rights, to protect Norwegian democracy.”

Actually I wanted to ask you, it was such a terrible crime, with 77 mainly young people murdered – did you get the sense that Norwegian society had somehow come to terms with this crime, or is it something that can never be gotten over?

“It’s very hard to answer this, but I think they did come to terms with it. Even though it’s still a big wound life goes on.

“Now people remember it, people sometimes talk about it, but it’s not something that would influence the everyday life of every Norwegian any more. It’s something like 9/11 in the United States.”

Surviving Utoya and Oslo is also an English-language podcast, produced by Radio Wave. What are your ambitions for the podcast?

“I don’t have many ambitions with the English version [laughs], but we wanted to use this advantage, that it’s recorded in English.

“And we can also use it Norway. Because the 22 July Centre would like to use it for their own purposes.

“That was the first idea why to do it. And Czech Radio was happy to do some kind of pioneer podcast in English, to start a new era maybe.”

The podcast can be found here.