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Radio Sawa: The Creation of a New U.S. Government Arabic Service
Unformatted Document Text:  quotes Norm Pattiz and government officials on the need for Radio Sawa, and says that, “Until now, the VOA’s efforts in the Middle East have been pathetically inadequate . . . “ Felicity Barringer (2002) reviewed Radio Sawa developments three months after it went on the air and after interviewing several listeners in the Middle East sounded a skeptical note about the service. She observed that the station was a “sharp turn from the traditional, long- form news, analysis, and cultural programming of the Voice of America whose shortwave and AM broadcasts to the Arabic-speaking world have been eliminated to make way for the bubble-gum pop music of stars like Britney Spears and the Lebanese singer Rashid al- Majid.” Several listeners she interviewed were concerned about the America-centric nature of the station’s news. William Safire (2002), writing in the New York Times, criticized Radio Sawa and its full-time use of the Kuwait-based mediumwave transmitter that had been used to reach Iraq, via RFE/RL’s Radio Free Iraq, and the VOA Farsi service to Iran by saying, “Now a half-hour of music is followed by four minutes of news and not one pro-U.S. editorial.” NBC’s Charlene Gubash (2002) writing from Cairo points out that the station’s e-mail from the region has been positive and describes the station as “a savvy, sexy, eclectic blend of old and new American rock, rap, pop, hip-hop, fusion music with Arabic lyrics and a Western beat, and the freshest sounds from an array of Arab talent.” The Washington Post’s Howard Schneider (2002) reported from Amman, Jordan, quite positively about the service, noting that Amman was one of the locations in the Arab world where the station was heard via local FM rebroadcast. However, he also pointed out that much of the Middle East could not listen to the station: “The core of the Arab world, however, remains out of touch” (p. A24). Schneider failed to mention that Radio Sawa’s signal would soon be available to much of the unserved Arab world when a Cyprus-based 600 KW mediumwave transmitter goes on line in fall 2002. One of the most comprehensive articles to appear in the U.S. popular press was written by Eli Lake who discusses Radio Sawa’s music mix, along with some of the survey and focus-group data on Arabs that are potential station listeners. Lake (2002) notes that, according to Bert Kleinman, Radio Sawa’s music programmer, Arab political songs will not be aired. Focus-group data from Jordan and

Authors: Boyd, Douglas.
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quotes Norm Pattiz and government officials on the need for Radio Sawa, and says that,
“Until now, the VOA’s efforts in the Middle East have been pathetically inadequate . . . “
Felicity Barringer (2002) reviewed Radio Sawa developments three months after it went on
the air and after interviewing several listeners in the Middle East sounded a skeptical note
about the service. She observed that the station was a “sharp turn from the traditional, long-
form news, analysis, and cultural programming of the Voice of America whose shortwave and
AM broadcasts to the Arabic-speaking world have been eliminated to make way for the
bubble-gum pop music of stars like Britney Spears and the Lebanese singer Rashid al-
Majid.” Several listeners she interviewed were concerned about the America-centric nature
of the station’s news. William Safire (2002), writing in the New York Times, criticized Radio
Sawa and its full-time use of the Kuwait-based mediumwave transmitter that had been used
to reach Iraq, via RFE/RL’s Radio Free Iraq, and the VOA Farsi service to Iran by saying,
“Now a half-hour of music is followed by four minutes of news and not one pro-U.S. editorial.”
NBC’s Charlene Gubash (2002) writing from Cairo points out that the station’s e-mail from
the region has been positive and describes the station as “a savvy, sexy, eclectic blend of old
and new American rock, rap, pop, hip-hop, fusion music with Arabic lyrics and a Western
beat, and the freshest sounds from an array of Arab talent.”
The
Washington Post’s Howard Schneider (2002) reported from Amman, Jordan, quite
positively about the service, noting that Amman was one of the locations in the Arab world
where the station was heard via local FM rebroadcast. However, he also pointed out that
much of the Middle East could not listen to the station: “The core of the Arab world,
however, remains out of touch” (p. A24). Schneider failed to mention that Radio Sawa’s
signal would soon be available to much of the unserved Arab world when a Cyprus-based
600 KW mediumwave transmitter goes on line in fall 2002. One of the most comprehensive
articles to appear in the U.S. popular press was written by Eli Lake who discusses Radio
Sawa’s music mix, along with some of the survey and focus-group data on Arabs that are
potential station listeners. Lake (2002) notes that, according to Bert Kleinman, Radio Sawa’s
music programmer, Arab political songs will not be aired. Focus-group data from Jordan and


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