Russian Language Blog

Radio Shows Where Russians Talk About Russian Posted by on Oct 20, 2016 in Culture, language


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I am sure many of our readers would enjoy listening to shows dedicated to the Russian language. I have listed a few program(me)s that touch upon the challenges in the language that even native or advanced speakers struggle with.

“Говорим по-русски. Передача-игра” (Эхо Москвы)

This is a show about the Russian language on the “Эхо Москвы” (“Moscow Echo”) radio station. The hosts talk about trends and issues in contemporary Russian and ask listeners trivia questions for a chance to win a book.

This episode looks at the changing speech etiquette in Russian. The linguist Maksim Krongauz (Максим Кронгауз) touches upon such recent changes as the drop of patronymics (отчества) when addressing strangers in formal situations, changes to greetings and farewells, and new patterns of politeness. One example he gives is thanking someone in advance when that person does not really have a choice, for example, when your boss asks you to do something. Krongauz calls it

благода́рность, кото́рая вынужда́ет меня́ к определённым де́йствиям. Ра́ньше э́того у нас не́ было, сейча́с в корпорати́вных пи́сьмах э́то встреча́ется регуля́рно. (…gratitude that forces me to do certain things. We didn’t use to have this, but now it’s a fixture of corporate communications.)

“Ликвидация безграмотности”. (Радио “Маяк”)

Sergey Stillavin is the current host of this irreverent podcast that discusses various developments in the Russian language and society.

coffee beans

Image from Pixabay

This episode is interesting in that it features a native Russian speaker who replaces the sounds ш and ж with ф and в, respectively; and a second-language Russian speaker. The expert, Professor Galina Yakusheva (Галина Викторовна Якушева) talks about the gender of the word кофе, which has been “expanded” to allow for neuter colloquially, along with the established masculine. Further, she touches upon Russian spelling reforms, swearing in Russian, and the postmodernist author Victor Pelevinиктор Пелевин).

“Как это по-русски?” (Радио России)

This show covers tricky aspects of the Russian language. Callers consult two professors of Russian, Mikhail Dymarsky (Михаил Яковлевич Дымарский) and Valery Yefremov (Валерий Анатольевич Ефремов), about their doubts and ambiguities in Russian.

In the latest episode at the time of writing, starting from 04:45, the experts answer a caller’s question about the use of the loanword ресепшен (“reception”) to talk about a hotel/office building front desk. The experts agree that “ресепшен” sounds awkward and may be hard to pronounce for speakers of Russian. At the same time, in their opinion, a potential Russian equivalent, стойка администратора, evokes the wrong associations of poor, Soviet-era customer service.

I encourage you to explore and sign up for these and other shows via RSS, podcast software, or just listen to them online. Let me know which episodes you enjoyed the most.

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About the Author: Maria

Maria is a Russian-born translator from Western New York. She is excited to share her fascination with all things Russian on this blog. Maria's professional updates are available in English on her website and Twitter and in Russian on Telegram.


  1. Nick Ivanov:

    The show “Говорим по-русски. Передача-игра” used to be hosted by Marina Koroljova & Ol’ga Severskaja. The two of them also published their 2003-’04 shows along with the respective audiotracks (for those in need of improving their proiznoshenie). I also used to listen to Yulia Safonova’s show (“Russkij Ustnyj”), on Radio Golos Rossii. Great, funny stuff. I’ve still got some of the recordings!