In our fifth interview with the Croatian Diaspora, we interview Jakov (also known as Jay Mil) from Sydney, Australia! We met Jakov and his now wife Angela minutes before we were being interviewed for Uppermoda on Cro2000 radio back in 2017. They both made us feel welcome and calmed any nerves we had before the interview! Also, their love of Croatia was evident from the first second we met and listened to them. We could tell that Cro2000 was their passion and they were going to do great things with the program!
We wanted to interview Jakov as he is truly immersed in the Croatian culture and wanted to share his story and his achievements with Cro2000 Media.
Photo: Jakov and Angela at the Croatian Film Festival
Firstly, thank you so much for being part of this Spotlight Series on how the Croatian Diaspora are keeping Croatian Traditions Alive. We are happy to have you as part of our Spotlight series!
Whilst I was born and grew up in Western Sydney, I was raised in a very “Croatian” way. We often spoke Croatian at home and had a very close connection to our heritage and our family in Croatia. I think a key part of that was because my dad is from Vukovar and because our family lost so much in the war - it was thus very important for our family to make sure that my sister and I understood our heritage, faith, identity and language. My mum’s side is from Nin, near Zadar and that gives me a nice Dalmatian side as well!
Well as you’ve alluded to in your question, Cro2000 began as a radio show in 1991 and it was always a program produced, run and presented by young Croatian Australians. Sometime around 2011 (I think!) as a uni student, I was asked to be part of a new team of young adults to try and revitalise and reignite the radio show. It was a lot of work but still great fun with friends and over that time we’ve seen some great talent come and go. 8 years on I’m still here and we’ve transformed Cro 2000 from a radio show to a fresh, broad ranging program that is available to people on social media and other modern platforms that people use today. To this day it is still a voluntary role which everyone contributes to because they feel passionate about the project.
The purpose of Cro2000 Media is to provide a program and localised content that actually adds value to the Croatian community. We’re in a unique spot in that we actually provide coverage of issues that are close to the diaspora from a local perspective. We want to cover news and events from a unique perspective that isn’t too “heavy” and is accessible to young Croatian-Australians regardless of whether or not they know Croatian.
At the end of the day, I really feel like we are providing something that no one else is doing and that also provides an important historical record of what has occurred in the Croatian community. We’re trying to create content that will connect another generation of Croatian-Australians to their heritage and identity and I think that goes to the core of what motivates us.
We’ll be looking to expand our channel onto even more platforms and with an even wider range of content so watch this space!
It’s hard to pick one, but I think generally the highlight has been able to provide something meaningful to the community and be part of a project that really has the Croatian cause at its heart. I’d like to think we are building a legacy that we can hopefully pass on to another generation, and seeing that develop and watching the community respond positively is the biggest highlight.
Well, we’ve been able to interview some amazing people like artists; Mate Bulic, Prljavo Kazaliste, Zapresic Boys, Petar Graso, Maksim Mrvica, Matko Jelavic; sporting personalities like Mile Jedinak and Joe Simunic as well as a range of political, artistic and religious figures. However, it has also enabled us to link with a whole range of Croatian community organisations in the diaspora and be a voice for other groups that do so much for the community. Being a part of the show has also allowed us to develop presenting, communication and production skills which are just generally important in all walks of life.
Apart from Cro2000, I write for the Croatian Herald (Hrvatski Vjesnik) and contribute articles about happenings in Sydney. As a member of the St Nikola Tavelic Parish along with my wife Angela, we host the annual Christmas Carols event there and read at Mass. I also sit on the Croatian Australian Community Council as well where we try to connect government with the Croatian Community
I would suggest that the simplest way to get involved is to simply put your hand up and “dive in” so to speak. The community needs people to take an active role and take the initiative because if no one does so, eventually the Community will fragment and all of the great things the generations before us built will be in vain. That’s something I would dread to see happen.
I’ll also take this opportunity to allude to the fact that Cro 2000 will be looking for new talent in the short future so if you’re a young member of the community make sure to get in touch when the call comes out!
If you haven’t really thought much about your identity and heritage before, ask your relatives and elders about the parts of Croatia they are from, ask to hear their stories about their towns and villages. Find out about your surname, name and what they mean/why you were given them. Do a bit of reading, understand Croatia’s millenia-long fight for independence and appreciate that you are the product of hundreds of generations of Croatians who fought and died for our people to exist – and that you have a responsibility to not let that heritage die out!
If you’ve got that bit covered (and you start to feel that fire burning) then I think the key is to engage with your community actively. Facebook groups and social media is OK for a start, but it is really important to roll your sleeves up and not be afraid to actually go and physically participate. Try and make an effort to go to the Croatian mass, get reacquainted with the language, go to Croatian Community clubs, teach your kids about their heritage- these are all really simple things that you can do to show you are living your identity – and along the way, you will learn a tonne! Truly being active in terms of your heritage is about more than just posting online when there is a soccer match going on!
Follow us on facebook – https://www.facebook.com/cro2000radio/ or
Instagram @cro2000media https://www.instagram.com/cro2000media/
And get in touch if you’d like to be involved as well, there’s plenty to do in addition to reporting- scriptwriting, research, production, camera work, audio work, social media posting, makeup ….
WOW, I am thoroughly impressed with Jakov and what the team have accomplished with Cro2000 media. You set a fantastic example of how to get involved in the Croatian community and we are ecstatic to showcase your incredible efforts!
♡ Meagan & Michael
We hope you enjoyed our fifth Croatian Diaspora interview in our Spotlight Series! If you would like to be interviewed or would like to recommend someone let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Comments will be approved before showing up.
Mirjana Cestar is the President of Croatia House - a cultural association established to promote Croatian performing and visual Arts in Australia. Continue reading to find out how Mirjana has been connecting Australia & Croatia and to find out more about the films Croatia House is featuring at the Croatian Film Festival