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Radio Sawa: The Creation of a New U.S. Government Arabic Service
Unformatted Document Text:  Almost no radio stations in, or broadcasting to, the Arab world use Arabic colloquial words such as Sawa in their titles precisely for reasons noted by Sharabi and Shouby. Major broadcasters to the area such as the BBC, the old VOA, Radio Monte Carlo Middle East, Radio France International--simply translate those names into Arabic. In fact, for years the BBC was successful in helping to brand its Arabic Service by using “Huna London”—“This is London” from the familiar phrase used on the BBC World Service’s English broadcasts. In the Arab world itself, the same pattern is followed: Radio Cairo, Voice of the Arabs (Egypt), The Broadcasting Service of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Radio Lebanon, etc. These broadcasters understood the potential linguistic difficulty of using a catchy, attractive station name. Radio Sawa’s Washington Programming Base The Voice of America created a service in the 1980s that had a format similar to Radio Sawa’s. Originally code named VOA II, and later VOA Europe, the service featured DJ- presented popular music and news from studios on the ground floor of the Cohen Building, VOA’s Washington, D.C., home. The motivation behind VOA Europe was to present a modern American radio sound to younger Europeans whose parents remembered the U.S. role in the defeat of Germany during World War II, but whose children were less supportive of U.S. efforts, for example, to place operational Cruse Missiles in Germany, The Netherlands, and England. VOA Europe was renamed VOA Express in 1996, but stopped operating in early 1997 because VOA was unsuccessful in obtaining sufficient local FM frequencies to attract a viable audience. Also, VOA Europe was only in English, and unlike Radio Sawa operated in an increasingly competitive European commercial radio market. When Radio Sawa started in March 2002, it used the former VOA Europe studios, with the knowledge that the location was only temporary. Pre-Radio Sawa Western Broadcasting Models What was to become Radio Sawa had a successful Western international broadcasting programming model to follow. For three decades Radio Monte Carlo Middle East via mediumwave from Cyprus, and more recently some local FM rebroadcasts, pioneered a

Authors: Boyd, Douglas.
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Almost no radio stations in, or broadcasting to, the Arab world use Arabic colloquial words
such as Sawa in their titles precisely for reasons noted by Sharabi and Shouby. Major
broadcasters to the area such as the BBC, the old VOA, Radio Monte Carlo Middle East,
Radio France International--simply translate those names into Arabic. In fact, for years the
BBC was successful in helping to brand its Arabic Service by using “Huna London”—“This is
London” from the familiar phrase used on the BBC World Service’s English broadcasts. In
the Arab world itself, the same pattern is followed: Radio Cairo, Voice of the Arabs (Egypt),
The Broadcasting Service of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Radio Lebanon, etc. These
broadcasters understood the potential linguistic difficulty of using a catchy, attractive station
name.
Radio Sawa’s Washington Programming Base
The Voice of America created a service in the 1980s that had a format similar to Radio
Sawa’s. Originally code named VOA II, and later VOA Europe, the service featured DJ-
presented popular music and news from studios on the ground floor of the Cohen Building,
VOA’s Washington, D.C., home. The motivation behind VOA Europe was to present a
modern American radio sound to younger Europeans whose parents remembered the U.S.
role in the defeat of Germany during World War II, but whose children were less supportive
of U.S. efforts, for example, to place operational Cruse Missiles in Germany, The
Netherlands, and England. VOA Europe was renamed VOA Express in 1996, but stopped
operating in early 1997 because VOA was unsuccessful in obtaining sufficient local FM
frequencies to attract a viable audience. Also, VOA Europe was only in English, and unlike
Radio Sawa operated in an increasingly competitive European commercial radio market.
When Radio Sawa started in March 2002, it used the former VOA Europe studios, with the
knowledge that the location was only temporary.
Pre-Radio Sawa Western Broadcasting Models
What was to become Radio Sawa had a successful Western international broadcasting
programming model to follow. For three decades Radio Monte Carlo Middle East via
mediumwave from Cyprus, and more recently some local FM rebroadcasts, pioneered a


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