....LMB: "Radio Sawa"....

August 27, 2002

The LA Times printed this article yesterday about Radio Sawa. Radio Sawa, AKA the Middle East Radio Network, is essentially a mild US propaganda effort aimed at making young Muslims and Arabs like the United States.

You can give Radio Sawa a listen yourself at the link above. Frankly, it sounds almost no different from American pop radio, except that most of the songs are in Arabic. I was unable to make myself listen to more than 3 songs in a row before having to shut it off (Madonna's "True Blue." Yuck). About 25% of Radio Sawa's broadcast is dedicated to news programming, which Sawa's DJs insist is unbiased, non-propagandistic, and based solely on facts.

The LAT article is aimed at pointing out Radio Sawa's successes, and to give lip service to the station's critics.

I became pretty suspicious of the article's claims about Radio Sawa when I noticed that one sign of Sawa's popularity was a poll of 100 kids living in Amman, Jordan (42%, or 42 of them, said that Sawa is the station they listen to most). Polling 100 people in one city is meaningless. So if we can't rely on that data, who can we find out what Arabs and Muslims really think of Radio Sawa?

I figured a good way to find out would be to look at how the Arab and Muslim press covered Radio Sawa.

And to a large extent, they don't.

One article from the Jerusalem Post that is pretty thorough, pointing out that the brains behind this operation is Norman Pattiz who runs Westwood One, one of the nation's largest radio networks. However, the Post article seems to take at face value Sawa's claims that it is unbiased.

Egypt's Al-Ahram Weekly has an article which looks at Sawa in broader terms of propaganda efforts, and brings up a concern expressed in several of the articles: the US is making a huge effort to make the Arabs know about the United States and its people, but makes no effort to get to know these same Arabs.

The Star of Jordan has an article a bit more critical of Sawa, focusing on its propaganda goals. Specifically, it points out that Radio Sawa's news uses the point of view that Palestinians fighting Israel are terrorists, rather than the more common view that they are resisting oppression.

The closest thing we have to an examination of Sawa's potential news bias is an analysis by one of the founders of Electronic Intifada, which obviously has a teensy bit of bias itself. The author compares one day's news coverage on Radio Sawa with one day's coverage on the BBC, and he concludes that Sawa is indeed biased. Read the article and decide for yourself.

Beyond those articles, I had trouble finding any mention of Radio Sawa in the Arab press at all. Which leads me to theorize that Radio Sawa is not as popular as it would like us to think it is.

Good thing it only cost $35 million to set up. And could cost another $160 million if the government decides it wants Sawa to compete with Al-Jazeera.

Posted by Jake at 03:44 PM

mokhtar beddek
10,rue belebna kouider

dear mr the director,

how are you ?.....i am an algerian young man,i am 32 years old....i am so glad to write you from
algeria to your radio station "radio sawa" in usa...my country algeria is in north africa...i write you from an cyber club because i have not internet at home ! and computer too !!...

i would to ask you to make me a favour and
exception...to make me pleasure !...offer me some cd's please!!...

here in algeria,believe me dear mr the director!...the cd's are still so expensive! and me i cannot to buy them,because i have not much money!...and i am still without job since one year!!!...i worked in university just part time job during 6 months! and now my situation is very tight.....sometimes we cannot find what we want as music on cd !...the cd's in sales here in algeria are especially the recordable cd's !! with bad sound! the original cd's are nearly not available,when we find them ? it are STILL so expensive !...algeria don't make the original cd's!...that is the problem!!...my dream since long years is to have some cd's with good music!...when my dream comes true ?....i heard about another disc : dvd audio,what is it ?...how is this disc and what is the difference between this dvd audio and dvd and ?!!....i heard also about mini-disc!....here in algeria,we just can get cassettes only !!!....i am trying to save money since many years to buy at least an used discman cd! just i can to do!!!...

i pray you please dear mr the director,to have good heart and prettiness to accept to offer me please...the latest albums in cd's of your choice from good and great arabic music(with ud maqam especially)and great maerican music......for trying to spend at least good times when i can get player!...i have not where to go ! except listen to music and sometimes internet !!!...

thank you so much.

very important :

please dear mr the director,when you send me the discs...write the number of cd's on the package please! !... because the mail is opened here in algeria by the customs and sometimes the agents...still the contents !!...yes it's true !!!....we cannot to do anything !!!...no justice here in algeria !!!....

please dear mr the director,make me so happy with your great cd's at least !....give me please some joys and happiness!...please,think about me !!!.....

i am waiting your great mail and waiting deeply your great gift after !...

thank you so much dear mr the director,for your undestanding and your prettiness !...

please dear mr the director....replay me,please!!!!!.....

kind regards from algeria,


ps : dear mr the director....can you please help me to buy just an cd portable here in algeria ?...i know i won't never to buy it here!....everything is expensive! and i have not enough money sadly!!!....

Posted by: mokhtar beddek from algeria at October 12, 2002 11:27 AM

One of the radio stations that I listen to is radio Sawa .I keep in mind that america will never effect me by the way i act and think...i can listen to thier radio just for fun..but nothing else really..so listening to radio Sawa aint bad cause its only music..if u r smart then it wont effect you..just think of it as an ordinary radio station

Posted by: maya at February 10, 2003 01:36 PM

Radio Sawa...only listen to it because of non interrupted music...except for the news which keeps coming up every half hour, sometimes it seems every ten minutes! And all these repeated songs!!
SO what's happening? Us young educated and trendy Arabs are switching channels very quickly, back to our favorite local channels.

Yesterday I was amused when the news broadcaster said ...and I quote "al Qaeeda a terrorist group..." and this was read out by a Muslim Arab and no less a sudanese..and I felt sorry for him because I know this is not the sentiment of any ARAB, MUSLIM or Sudanese for that matter; but it is simply a job he is doing! So whom are we fooling?

Yes a month ago it was Al Qaeeda ,now its the terrorist group Al quaeeda....

you can almost see the changes crawling through...a bit like that girl in the movie "the ring" when she comes crawling out of the TV and glares at you with her ugly face!

so how did if feel....well it installed a touch of resentment to what sawa is doing to our people. I am sure this notion is not limited to me either.

SO IF YOU STICK TO JUST PLAYING MUSIC THAT WOULD BE GREAT. Oh and keep those oldie goldies coming through.
You are doing a great job in offering cheap entertainmant, especially at work.

Posted by: nkf at February 16, 2003 10:08 PM



Posted by: FATIMA at June 9, 2003 07:40 AM

If you have internetconnection you can listen to Radio Sawa check here http://www.radiosawa.com/index.cfm it gives frequencies as well

Posted by: Reza at October 30, 2003 03:49 AM

I would appreciate getting the email adress for Mr. Norman Pattiz if possible.
I really support his idea of creating the arabic language satellite television channel and would like to discuss the idea with him.

Posted by: Hana at November 27, 2003 03:31 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.

Both projects focus on our media-marinated world, political lies, corporate tyranny, and the folks fighting the good fight against these monsters.

All brought to you by Jake Sexton, The Most Beloved Man in America ģ.

contact: jake+at+lyingmediabastards.com

Media News

December 01, 2004

Media Mambo

The Great Indecency Hoax- last week, we wrote about how the "massive outcry" to the FCC about a racy Fox TV segment amounted to letters from 20 people. This week, we look at the newest media scandal, the infamous "naked back" commercial. On Monday Night Football, last week, ABC aired an ad for it's popular "Desperate Housewives" TV show, in which one of the actresses from the show attempted to seduce a football player by removing the towel she was wearing to bare her body to him. All the audience saw, however, was her back. No tits, no ass, no crotch, just her back.

No one complained.

The next Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh told his shocked viewers how the woman had appeard in the commercial "buck naked".

Then, the FCC received 50,000 complaints. How many of them actually saw this commercial is anyone's guess.

The article also shows the amazing statistics that although the Right is pretending that the "22% of Americans voted based on 'moral values'" statistic shows the return of the Moral Majority, this is actually a huge drop from the 35% who said that in the 2000 election or the 40% who said that in 1996 (when alleged pervert Bill Clinton was re-elected). This fact is so important I'm going to mention it over in the main news section too.

Brian Williams may surprise America- Tom Brokaw's replacement anchor, Brian Williams, dismissed the impact of blogs by saying that bloggers are "on an equal footing with someone in a bathroom with a modem." Which is really funny, coming out of the mouth of a dude who's idea of journalism is to read words out loud off a teleprompter. Seriously, if parrots were literate, Brian Williams would be reporting live from the line outside the soup kitchen.

In related news, Tom Brokaw has quit NBC Nightly News, and it appears that unlike his predecessor, the new guy can speak without slurring words like a drunk.

PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror- in February of 2002, Donald Rumsfeld announced the creation of the Office of Strategic Influence, a new department that would fight the war on terror through misinformation, especially by lying to journalists. Journalists were so up in arms about this that the Pentagon agreed to scrap the program.

Don't you think that an agency designed to lie to the public might lie about being shut down, too?

This article gives some examples about the US military lying to the press for propaganda and disinformation purposes.

Tavis Smiley leaving NPR in December- African-American talk show host Tavis Smiley is opting to not renew his daily talk show on National Public Radio. He criticized his former employers for failing to: "meaningfully reach out to a broad spectrum of Americans who would benefit from public radio but simply donít know it exists or what it offers ... In the most multicultural, multi-ethnic and multiracial America ever, I believe that NPR can and must do better in the future." He's 100% correct. NPR is white. Polar bear eating a marshmallow at the mayonaise factory white. And the reason it's so white is that it is trying to maintain an affluent listener base (premoniantly older white folks) who will donate money to their stations. This is a great paradox of American public broadcasting, that they have a mandate to express neglected viewpoints and serve marginalized communities, but those folks can't donate money in the amounts that the stations would like to see.

U.S. Muslim Cable TV Channel Aims to Build Bridges- it sounds more positive than it is "Bridges TV" seems to simultaneously be a cable channel pursuing an affluent American Muslim demographic, and a way of building understanding and tolerance among American non-Muslims who might happen to watch the channel's programming. I was hoping it would be aimed more at Muslim's worldwide, but it ain't. Still, I'd be interested in seeing how their news programs cover the issues.

Every Damned Weblog Post Ever- it's funny cuz it's true.

Wikipedia Creators Move Into News- Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, created collectively by thousands of contributors. It's one of those non-profit, decentralized, collective, public projects that show how good the internet can be. Now, the Wikipedia founders are working on a similar project to create a collaborative news portal, with original content. Honestly, it's quite similar to IndyMedia sites (which reminds me, happy 5th birthday, IndyMedia!). I'll admit, I'm a bit skeptical about the Wikinews project, though. IndyMedia sites work because they're local, focused on certain lefty issues, and they're run by activists invested in their beliefs. I'm not sure what would drive Wikinews or how it would hang together.

CBS, NBC ban church ad inviting gays- the United Church of Christ created a TV ad which touts the church's inclusion, even implying that they accept homosexuals into their congregation. Both CBS and NBC are refusing to air the ad. This is not too surprising, as many Americans are uncomfortable about homosexuality, and because TV networks are utter cowards. But CBS' explanation for the ban was odd:

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples...and the fact that the executive branch has recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast."

Whoa, what? First of all, the ad does not mention marriage at all. Second, since when do positions opposite of the Executive Branch constitute "unacceptable"? This doesn't sound like "we're not airing this because it's controversial", this sounds like "we're afraid of what the President might say."

Posted by Jake at 10:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
More Media News

Jake Jake Jake


Fake "Ha-Ha" News




"It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of what he was never reasoned into."

-Jonathan Swift

More Quotes

Media News


Obligatory Blog Links



Damn. That joke would have been much funnier if I'd said "apprentice" instead of "intern".

More Snapshots

Columnists Of Note



Sonic Resistance


Dead Trees


Heavy Rotation



Squiggles of Insight



Design and Layout by Mark McLaughlin and Quang Tang
LMB Logo by Quang Tang

Alt "One Hell of a Leader" logo largely stolen from Obey Giant.
All other material by Jake Sexton (unless otherwise cited)

hosted by nice dream