27 January, 2007

JOHUD’s ‘Autostrad’ radio production unit launches talk-show

By Cheryl Haines

AMMAN — A new talk-radio programme launched last week on the Kingdom’s only country-wide mainstream radio station, FANN FM (104.2) seeks to promote cultural awareness among listeners by providing an open forum through which people can voice their opinions about contemporary political, social and economic issues affecting the country.

The half-hour radio programme was pioneered by “Autostrad,” the country’s first radio production unit housed in the capital’s Princess Basma Youth Resource Centre and run by a small group of 20-something journalists, media professionals and production designers whose professional aim is to take an active role in the country’s development processes through communication media, according to a statement issued by Autostrad.

“Autostrad’s goal is to localise the globalised and break social barriers,” Autostrad Sales and Marketing Manager Noor Dajani, told The Jordan Times.

“We believe peer-to-peer education is important for the transfer of knowledge in the country,” she noted, adding that the new radio programme provides a platform for citizen communication, encouraging listeners to express and share their ideas and concerns on contemporary national issues.

Autostrad was implemented in 2005 through the Jordan Hashemite Fund for Human Development’s (JOHUD) Queen Zein Al Sharaf Institute for Development in cooperation with Western Kentucky University and Internews Network, an international nongovernmental organisation seeking to foster independent media organisations and promote open communication policies around the world.

The Autostrad team attended a three-week training course organised by the university last summer in Bowling Green, Kentucky and Washington, DC to learn the technical aspects involved in developing and editing radio programmes.
Since its conception, one of Autostrad’s main goals was to develop radio programmes that could be broadcast through mainstream and community radio stations throughout the country, focusing on contemporary issues relatable to all sectors of Jordanian society.

“We want to influence people to make a difference and show them that they can be a part of the change by taking part in our radio programmes,” Hiba Aloul, a journalist and programme producer for Autostrad, Referring to Autostrad’s motto: “Tune into Change,” told The Jordan Times.

Autostrad’s first programme aired on FANN FM on January 17.
Each radio programme is comprised of pre-recorded introductions and live, on-air call-ins and discussions.
Airing every Wednesday at 11:00am on the station’s “Sabaho” morning programme with radio host Desiree and members of the Autostrad team, the programme is currently scheduled to go on until May, but there is hope that listener response will allow it to continue for longer.

With only two shows aired, listener feedback has so far been encouraging. The first programme focused on child beggars in the country, covering issues such as harassment of beggars, dangers of panhandling on busy road and common street scams.
The topic aroused active participation and varied responses from listeners. In fact, the show lasted beyond its scheduled time-slot, with listeners continuing to call-in to the station, extending the programme to over 40 minutes.

“We work for the people, with the people,” said Autostrad’s senior journalist and programme producer Mohammad Maaitah.
“Radio extends to local people and it can express their opinions. It’s cheap to buy and cheap to consume,” he continued, adding that Autostrad’s radio show on Sabaho targets many social groups — women, the underprivileged, the country’s youth and ethnic minorities.

Autostrad’s second programme focused on the issue of graffiti and illegal artwork in the Kingdom’s urban spaces and future shows plan to discuss topics such as Internet dating, psychiatry in Jordan and stigmas associated with buying and wearing used clothing.

The name Autostrad was chosen by the group in reference to the Italian high-speed motorway, the Autostrade, and Germany’s equivalent, the Autobahn.

With thousands of passengers using the motorways on any given day, this road space becomes a communal ground for people from various classes, ethnicities and backgrounds. Free of social barriers like racism and discrimination, the Autostrade welcomes everyone regardless of their beliefs and convictions, noted Aloul.
For those unable to tune in to regular radio programming, FANN FM’s website offers live streaming online at www.radiofann.com.

+ Jordan Times, Friday-Saturday, January 26-27, 2007
+ Via Amarc MENA

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