Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Jordanian Local Radio

In the wake of the Arab Spring, Jordan has apparently developed a local talk radio scene:
As the sun rises over the Jordanian capital, the problems of the day start to stream in to Radio Fann. In the studio, producers scramble to keep up with calls and e-mails from listeners complaining about issues like water shortages and bureaucratic failures...
Hani al Badri, 45, is host of Wasat al-Balad, a two-and-a-half-hour live broadcast for people who find nowhere else to turn. The producers not only field their calls; they ring government officials on-air to try to resolve the issues raised...
The morning talk shows are popular in a country where local municipalities are weighed down by bloated bureaucracies and inadequate budgets, despite a plan in 2005 to increase their efficiency...
Radio Fann, for example, is still owned by the Jordanian armed forces. Another, Amen FM, is owned by the police. Before the Arab Spring, most radio stations played primarily music. 
"If only the king knew!" was the stereotypical cry of a peasant assuming his grand monarch would be on his side against the local tyrants who, of course, were of the king's regime.  Contemporary Jordanians, of course, are not so naive, but I wonder if these radio shows serve the purpose of a safety valve which allows people to express disgruntlement with the everyday issues which fuel resentment of the system, and for the government to respond to local complaints without fundamentally altering that system.  Indeed, since contrary to the expectations of many Jordan has not experienced a mass uprising, I wonder such a plan is in place and working.

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