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August 29, 2005



This is an excellent point--there are already plenty of radio stations in Cairo, for instance, that play American music. For free.

John Penta

The unasked question, though...Did anybody ever listen to VOA Arabic, though?

I mean, that's the thing I've *always* noticed.

Nobody ever answers, or has ever answered, what is probably the most basic question when defending either the lowbrow Radio Sawa or the higher-brow(?) RFE, RL, RFA, or VOA....

How do we know people have ever actually listened to them? How do we know they ever DO currently listen to them?


Kind of randomly, I'm reading Paul Theroux's account of his 1986 travels through Deng Xioping's China (e.g. after the Cultural Revolution). He repeatedly stressed encounters with folks who "learned English by listening to VOA" or during the Cultural Revolution leared what was "really going on" by listening to it. Theroux is by no means an American apologist, so I'd have to assume these conversations happened.

But the point stands - if we have to swap anecdotes from people's travel writing in order to get any idea of its relevance, the government is not doing a good job of explaining the relevance of these media organs. And since good news travels fast, I would have to assume, like you, that there's limited utility.

Personally, I don't even know the call number for Sawa. I tune in to Nile FM when I want my Britney fix (rare, indeed), and listed to their cheesy British DJ and his hapless Egyptian sidekick. Nothing like a little post-colonial fun there...

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