Hacking Radio in Jordan



Xeni Jardin over at Boing Boing has a fantastic guest post about the trials of women’s radio in Jordan.

The author of the posting  is Daoud Kuttab, director general of Community Media Network, a not-for-profit media Non-governmental Organization (NGO) that runs Radio al Balad in Amman as well as PenMedia in Palestine. A ground breaker in the field of independent media in the region for several decades Kuttab, was also once a professor of journalism at Princeton University.

Due to the interesting vagaries of Jordanian media law, including the ability to revoke licenses at will and an additional 50% fee to any station that plans news or political content, radio has had to take some extraordinarily creative measures in getting its broadcasts to the people. This is an excellent examination of two things: the power of radio as a socially constructive voice, and the importance of radio’s evolution onto the Internet.

In the wake of a rejected application to the Jordanian government for a license for the first woman’s radio station, Kuttab’s organization came up with a creative and legal way to workaround their rejection using a combination of traditional broadcast and Internet technology.

Thanks to Palestinian Radio al Qamr’s (Moon radio) agreement to rebroadcast the one-hour program, which was set up a week before the rejection, these works will be heard.

Hey is the summation, via Boing Boing:

By using an FTP server, the Jericho station is able to download the program and rebroadcast it from Jericho. The people of both sides of the Jordan river are able to hear the Jericho station, thus creating a creative alternative to the Jordanian radio station rejection. The bypass of the government goes like this. Women from the Jordan valley produce programming from their community. They come to Amman and broadcast it on our station, now called radio al balad. The audio of the program is saved on our ammannet web site and is posted on the ftp server. A Palestinian technician then downloads the program and broadcasts it the following day. Women and men in the Jordanian side of the Jordan Valley are able to hear the program originally produced in their own community. Result. We are able to do what appears to be an illegal act in a totally legal way. Naturally this round about way of broadcasting is no alternative to the women of the Jordan Valley having their own station, but hopefully it can send a message to restrictive officials that in today’s world you simply can’t keep people quite using traditional legal means.

Now,  I  have always said that radio has reach, and it is no secret that mobile devices and the Internet are expanding that reach in an exponential progression, but this story really surprised me. I don’t think I have ever seen such an innovative way of getting a show produced and on the air. Talk about having to jump through hoops!

Create the story in one country, upload it to where another station can access the file in another country, then broadcast so that the radio signal reaches the original country. Wow. It is an amazing life-hack, and one that shows the growing synergy developing between radio and the Internet. It may be an extremely roundabout way in which to give the people a voice, but it does seem to be effective.

Go give the full Boing Boing post a read. I don’t know about you, but I am inspired to take a more creative approach to many things after reading about this!

Photo courtesy of andresmh, used under its Creative Commons license


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