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Radio Sawa: The Creation of a New U.S. Government Arabic Service
Unformatted Document Text:  Bahrain suggest that the attraction of Arab and Western music is working: “ . . . 60% of 18- to 30-year-olds [in the focus groups] . . . said they would listen to a pop music radio station knowing that it was sponsored by the U.S. government” (p. 3). In the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan, and Qatar, the local press essentially restricted coverage of Radio Sawa’s FM rebroadcasts to announcements that they were taking place. Even in these mostly U.S.-friendly states, permitting a Western government to transmit locally is a sensitive issue. From Egypt, the weekly Al-Ahram English edition was not very positive. You are a young Arab under the age of 30. You love pop music, you are confused about your cultural identity and you are troubled by the current carnage in the Middle East. You wonder if the US is at war with Islam and are baffled by abstractions such as “martyrdom,” “resistance” and “terrorism.” If this describes you, then fear no more – Radio Sawa is on its way to help you. (El-Amir) When assessing the impact of Radio Sawa, the article concludes with an obvious reference to a well known Arab proverb about a fish taking the bait but not the hook. “Arab youth themselves will split the strategy: take the US sound and discard the US agenda” (El- Amir). Jane Perlez (2002) writing for nytimes.com from Amman, Jordan notes that public reaction there to Radio Sawa, “is: yes to the music; no to the news.” Audience Research On October 9, 2002, the Broadcasting Board of Governors released audience research data from Edison Media Research of Somerville, NJ, done during August and September in Amman, Jordan, the location of one of Radio Sawa’s FM transmitters. The survey data show that 43% of the 500 respondents between 17 and 28 years of age listened to Radio Sawa more than any other station. Also, 86% said they had listened to Radio Sawa during the past 7 days; 23% said Radio Sawa had the most up-to-date news; and Radio Sawa and Amman FM (a government-operated music-oriented station) were tied with regard to which station had the most accurate and trustworthy news (“Research shows radio,” 2002, October 9). More positive listening numbers will likely be forthcoming from other Arab world locations,

Authors: Boyd, Douglas.
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Bahrain suggest that the attraction of Arab and Western music is working: “ . . . 60% of 18-
to 30-year-olds [in the focus groups] . . . said they would listen to a pop music radio station
knowing that it was sponsored by the U.S. government” (p. 3).
In the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan, and Qatar, the local press essentially
restricted coverage of Radio Sawa’s FM rebroadcasts to announcements that they were
taking place. Even in these mostly U.S.-friendly states, permitting a Western government to
transmit locally is a sensitive issue. From Egypt, the weekly Al-Ahram English edition was
not very positive.
You are a young Arab under the age of 30. You love pop music, you are
confused about your cultural identity and you are troubled by the current carnage in
the Middle East. You wonder if the US is at war with Islam and are baffled by
abstractions such as “martyrdom,” “resistance” and “terrorism.” If this describes
you, then fear no more – Radio Sawa is on its way to help you. (El-Amir)
When assessing the impact of Radio Sawa, the article concludes with an obvious
reference to a well known Arab proverb about a fish taking the bait but not the hook. “Arab
youth themselves will split the strategy: take the US sound and discard the US agenda” (El-
Amir). Jane Perlez (2002) writing for nytimes.com from Amman, Jordan notes that public
reaction there to Radio Sawa, “is: yes to the music; no to the news.”
Audience Research
On October 9, 2002, the Broadcasting Board of Governors released audience research
data from Edison Media Research of Somerville, NJ, done during August and September in
Amman, Jordan, the location of one of Radio Sawa’s FM transmitters. The survey data show
that 43% of the 500 respondents between 17 and 28 years of age listened to Radio Sawa
more than any other station. Also, 86% said they had listened to Radio Sawa during the past
7 days; 23% said Radio Sawa had the most up-to-date news; and Radio Sawa and Amman
FM (a government-operated music-oriented station) were tied with regard to which station
had the most accurate and trustworthy news (“Research shows radio,” 2002, October 9).
More positive listening numbers will likely be forthcoming from other Arab world locations,


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