Radio sawa and alhurra
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Radio Sawa and Alhurra. Run-Up to Radio Sawa. VOA’s first Arabic broadcast, January 1950 from New York studios Broadcast hours increased steadily based on events in the Arab world VOA audience always small vis-à-vis the BBC and Radio Monte Carlo Middle East

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Radio Sawa and Alhurra

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Radio sawa and alhurra

Radio Sawa and Alhurra


Run up to radio sawa

Run-Up to Radio Sawa

  • VOA’s first Arabic broadcast, January 1950 from New York studios

  • Broadcast hours increased steadily based on events in the Arab world

  • VOA audience always small vis-à-vis the BBC and Radio Monte Carlo Middle East

  • Limited medium wave and FM coverage, limited hours, and “U.S. Government” Broadcasts


Radio sawa s together creation

Radio Sawa’s “Together” Creation

  • Planning for Radio Sawa started 8 months before 9/11

  • Money from VOA program elimination

  • Norm Pattiz: Westwood One founder and former BEA board member appointed to BBG by Clinton

  • Pattiz became Radio Sawa driving force re programming, transmission, and distrubution

  • First broadcast: March 23, 2002


Radio sawa s format

Radio Sawa’s Format

  • Top-40 Music and News—Designed for an under-30 audience

  • News at :15 and :45

  • Music: Western, mostly a U.S. song followed by an Arabic song

  • Some commentary/features


Reaction to radio sawa

Reaction to Radio Sawa

  • Generally favorable in the U.S.

  • Promoted heavily by Norm Pattiz

  • Initial positive listener response

  • Copycat local Arab stations

  • Continuing positive listener response


Radio sawa s limitations

Radio Sawa’s Limitations

  • Some language difficulties

  • Some news difficulties

  • Medium-wave distribution for an FM-oriented service

  • Lack of coverage in important Arab states: Saudi Arabia and Egypt


Radio sawa in 2006

Radio Sawa in 2006

  • Mature radio station

  • “Popular” in some countries: Jordan, Kuwait, and Morocco

  • Serves more listeners than the old VOA Arabic service

  • Seen by U.S. Administration as important aspect of U.S.-Middle East public diplomacy


Alhurra the free one

Alhurra, “The Free One”

  • 24-hour BBG DTH Arabic television service

  • Modern studios in Springfield, VA, outside Washington, D.C.

  • Seen by the U.S. Administration as important part of U.S.-Arab World public diplomacy

  • Funded by BBG, operated by Middle East Television Network


Alhurra programming staff

Alhurra Programming & Staff

  • Pattiz: “People are loyal to radio stations, and loyal to television programs”

  • Block news, information, features, entertainment programming

  • Staff hired from the Arab world


Alhurra s impact

Alhurra’s Impact

  • Measuring the Alhurra audience

  • Problem: A lack of standards for measuring international media audiences

    • BBG-funded 2005 7-country study showed 25 percent had tuned in once per week

    • Zogby 2004 International found 0.2 percent tuned in


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