About

Voices of the Middle East and North Africa also be heard live on-line at kpfa.org. The Middle Eastern and North African Perspectives (MENAP) produces Voices of the Middle East and North Africa that is aired on KPFA 94.1 FM in Berkeley, KFCF 88.1 FM in Fresno every Wednesday at 7 PM (PST). This program is also aired on Tampa’ WMNF 88.5 HD3 every Thursday at 6PM (EST) To contact us, please call 510-848-6767 ext. 632, or send us e-mail to info@vomena.org.

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Voices of the Middle East and North Africa is an eight-year-old radio program produced by a diverse group of individuals from various lands in West Asia and North Africa. Several essential features distinguish our program from others currently available in North America: its scope, its magazine format, its authenticity and its philosophy and perspective.

An alternative perspective:

Voices of the Middle East and North Africa has consistently brought listeners deeply informed and authentic voices that take listeners beyond the headlines into the richly diverse and fascinating world of culture and politics of the Middle East and North Africa, exploring the complex web of class, gender, ethnic, religious and regional differences which separate and distinguish the ways of life and political and ideological perspectives of people in that part of the world.

Through the fine lens of academic scholarship, grassroots activism, artistic and intellectual interpretation, our radio program goes beyond the reductive stereotypes of the Sword and the Veil, oil riches and terrorism, backwardness and war to help create a fuller understanding of reality, deconstructing in the process the artificial duality of the so-called “clash of civilizations” and bridging the chasm of misunderstanding that currently exists between our native and adoptive lands.

It is our belief that humanizing and understanding others is essential to understanding ourselves, that factual information and education are essential to a true democracy and that a truly informed public is our best defense against war and tyranny. Our nation’s increasing involvement in the Middle East and its dramatic consequences for us and others are dictating that we, the People, can no longer afford the luxury of indifference or ignorance in matters Middle Eastern.

Scope:

While there may be a handful of radio shows across the country whose focus is the “Middle East,” none of those seriously covers the countries of North Africa, which are usually lumped in the broad category of “Middle East” and are not covered on a consistent, on-going basis. For example, regular in-depth stories on the history of French colonialism in the Maghreb (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia) and how that history relates to current foreign occupations in the Middle East are a staple of our program. We are also the only radio program in the country to delve into the fascinating culture and history of the native Berber (Amazigh) people in the Maghreb, as well as such usually shunned topics as the rich and long history of Jewish culture in the Middle East and North Africa, the Armenian genocide and other unique and important subjects such as labor struggles and queer rights in those countries.

Authenticity:

Ours is a program, which pointedly and systematically gives a platform to native voices – thus our program’s title – whether they are based within the countries we cover or in the international diaspora. Our hosts and producers are all immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa (Iran, Kurdistan, Algeria, Morocco, Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Afghanistan) and the overwhelming majority of our guests are credentialed scholars, activists, writers, musicians, artists, etc. with roots and expertise in the lands of the Middle East and North Africa. It is also our policy to always include representative voices from both genders in each and every program.

Weekly magazine format:

Ours is an attractively produced, entertaining one-hour weekly program produced in the studios of Pacifica’s original station, KPFA-94.1FM in Berkeley, the first-ever listener-sponsored community radio station in the country. One unique feature of our show is that it highlights, every single week, both the political and the cultural together, always combining a public affair segment (politics, history, analysis) of approximately 30 minutes with an art and literature (cinema, theatre, etc…) segment of approximately
22 minutes, complemented with short commentaries and a weekly community calendar of events. We strive to maintain a good geographic balance in each weekly program (e.g., if the public affairs is on Iran, the arts and literature might be on Morocco, and so on) to showcase the cultural diversity of the region every week and interest potential listeners from many different backgrounds. This balanced format has been key to our success and popularity with the listening audience.

In conclusion:

Where else in North America can you hear, on a regular basis, about issues of feminism, labor, grassroots democracy, AIDS and gender issues as they pertain to the lives of Middle Easterners and North Africans as well as local diaspora communities? By going in depth into such varied and otherwise untapped issues, and by covering the arts, poetry and literature of those countries, we are able to demystify the Arab, Iranian, Turk or Berber as the “Other,” and thus further the cause of mutual understanding, world peace and freedom.

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