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Radio Sawa: The Creation of a New U.S. Government Arabic Service
Unformatted Document Text:  commercial music and news format that was especially popular before improved local radio and satellite televison started to take away audiences for international radio. Creating a new “sound,” or “voice” (sawt in Arabic) by using a mixture of fast-paced, to-the-point news and DJ-presented Arab and Western (mostly French) music, the station has had strong following among a younger audience. In a March 1991 report of focus groups in Egypt, the BBC characterized the station as: . . . perceived as credible and entertaining at the same time (especially by university students). The station’s performance during the Gulf War strengthened the belief that it was indeed a trustworthy station. Radio Monte Carlo [Middle East] was sought for the news as well as for other programmes during this period. The personified Monte Carlo was a modern young woman, casually dressed, well- educated and honest. (“The BBC in,” 1991) Radio Sawa in the Western and Arab Press VOA Arabic received little attention in the American media before September 11, 2001; it was then that the service gained some attention when some in the U.S. asked why it was apparently ineffective in helping Arab listeners, many seemingly disdainful of Western and specifically the U.S. way of life, understand the U.S. The willingness of the Broadcasting Board of Governors to make dramatic changes along with Norm Pattiz’s high profile resulted in media attention to Radio Sawa in both the U.S. and the Middle East. Generally, reaction in the U.S. was favorable. In the Arab world positive reaction depended on whether or not a country had agreed to host the new Radio Sawa programming center (the United Arab Emirates), permitted local FM rebroadcasts (the U.A.E., Kuwait, Qatar, and Jordan), or perceived Radio Sawa as either more U.S. influence in the area or a threat to local media (Saudi Arabia and Egypt). Associated Press reporter George Gedda (2002) reported about Radio Sawa on April 24, 2002, “If music is the bait, the main dish for listeners, as the U.S. government sees it, is the airing of U.S. policy.” On May 9, 2001, syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington (2002)

Authors: Boyd, Douglas.
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commercial music and news format that was especially popular before improved local radio
and satellite televison started to take away audiences for international radio. Creating a new
“sound,” or “voice” (sawt in Arabic) by using a mixture of fast-paced, to-the-point news and
DJ-presented Arab and Western (mostly French) music, the station has had strong following
among a younger audience. In a March 1991 report of focus groups in Egypt, the BBC
characterized the station as:
. . . perceived as credible and entertaining at the same time (especially by university
students). The station’s performance during the Gulf War strengthened the belief
that it was indeed a trustworthy station. Radio Monte Carlo [Middle East] was
sought for the news as well as for other programmes during this period. The
personified Monte Carlo was a modern young woman, casually dressed, well-
educated and honest. (“The BBC in,” 1991)
Radio Sawa in the Western and Arab Press
VOA Arabic received little attention in the American media before September 11, 2001; it
was then that the service gained some attention when some in the U.S. asked why it was
apparently ineffective in helping Arab listeners, many seemingly disdainful of Western and
specifically the U.S. way of life, understand the U.S. The willingness of the Broadcasting
Board of Governors to make dramatic changes along with Norm Pattiz’s high profile resulted
in media attention to Radio Sawa in both the U.S. and the Middle East. Generally, reaction
in the U.S. was favorable. In the Arab world positive reaction depended on whether or not a
country had agreed to host the new Radio Sawa programming center (the United Arab
Emirates), permitted local FM rebroadcasts (the U.A.E., Kuwait, Qatar, and Jordan), or
perceived Radio Sawa as either more U.S. influence in the area or a threat to local media
(Saudi Arabia and Egypt).
Associated Press reporter George Gedda (2002) reported about Radio Sawa on April 24,
2002, “If music is the bait, the main dish for listeners, as the U.S. government sees it, is the
airing of U.S. policy.” On May 9, 2001, syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington (2002)


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