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Radio Sawa: The Creation of a New U.S. Government Arabic Service
Unformatted Document Text:  Pattiz envisioned a trip to the Arab world to see for himself some of the problems facing a reorganized Arabic service. Prior to the trip, he and others on the BBG staff and other governors themselves brought in several consultants, including this writer. A consensus quickly emerged about programming, personnel, delivery systems, and location selection, much of which was accomplished one year prior to March 23, 2002, Radio Sawa’s official beginning (O’Keffe, 2002). Between February 11 and 16, 2001, Pattiz (who chartered a plane to travel from Europe to the Arab world), Cheryl Halpern, also a BBG member, and selected BBG staff visited Egypt, Jordan, Israel, the West Bank, and Qatar. A new VOA Arabic service was well outlined upon their return to the U.S. (Broadcasting Board of Governors, 2001b). Programming: The service was to be around-the-clock with special emphasis on peak morning and afternoon/evening listening times. During these times, the service would be split into five different programs, one for each major Arab world region with more locally based programming featuring colloquial Arabic. While there would be times when extended features were broadcast, the service would feature news and popular music to attract the increasingly younger, under-30 age group that makes up more than 50% of the region’s population (Kaufman, 2002). In Saudi Arabia, 50% of the population is under 15 years of age (“Half of kingdom’s,” 2002). Location: In order to sound like a modern Arabic service, it had to be located in the Arab world. This would give the new service fresh voices and permit non-American citizens to work in both technical and programming positions. The old VOA Arabic Service was to be eliminated. Delivery: Pattiz and his colleagues were not unique in understanding that increasingly Arabs were tuning less to radio programming on shortwave. The Rhodes VOA mediumwave transmitter is largely ineffective in reaching much of the Arab world, except for some areas in North Africa and the Levant when mediumwave propagation characteristics change after sunset. On the other hand, the Radio Monte Carlo Middle East (RMCME) Cyprus-located mediumwave transmitter reaches Egypt and the Levant during the day and some of the Gulf

Authors: Boyd, Douglas.
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Pattiz envisioned a trip to the Arab world to see for himself some of the problems facing a
reorganized Arabic service. Prior to the trip, he and others on the BBG staff and other
governors themselves brought in several consultants, including this writer. A consensus
quickly emerged about programming, personnel, delivery systems, and location selection,
much of which was accomplished one year prior to March 23, 2002, Radio Sawa’s official
beginning (O’Keffe, 2002). Between February 11 and 16, 2001, Pattiz (who chartered a
plane to travel from Europe to the Arab world), Cheryl Halpern, also a BBG member, and
selected BBG staff visited Egypt, Jordan, Israel, the West Bank, and Qatar. A new VOA
Arabic service was well outlined upon their return to the U.S. (Broadcasting Board of
Governors, 2001b).
Programming:
The service was to be around-the-clock with special emphasis on peak
morning and afternoon/evening listening times. During these times, the service would be
split into five different programs, one for each major Arab world region with more locally
based programming featuring colloquial Arabic. While there would be times when extended
features were broadcast, the service would feature news and popular music to attract the
increasingly younger, under-30 age group that makes up more than 50% of the region’s
population (Kaufman, 2002). In Saudi Arabia, 50% of the population is under 15 years of
age (“Half of kingdom’s,” 2002).
Location:
In order to sound like a modern Arabic service, it had to be located in the Arab
world. This would give the new service fresh voices and permit non-American citizens to
work in both technical and programming positions. The old VOA Arabic Service was to be
eliminated.
Delivery:
Pattiz and his colleagues were not unique in understanding that increasingly
Arabs were tuning less to radio programming on shortwave. The Rhodes VOA mediumwave
transmitter is largely ineffective in reaching much of the Arab world, except for some areas in
North Africa and the Levant when mediumwave propagation characteristics change after
sunset. On the other hand, the Radio Monte Carlo Middle East (RMCME) Cyprus-located
mediumwave transmitter reaches Egypt and the Levant during the day and some of the Gulf


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