US-Funded Radio Sawa Big Hit In Middle East

Within six months of going on the air Radio Sawa -- Sawa is the Arabic word for "coming together" -- has more listeners than BBC and local stations in Jordan according to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the U.S. government agency that oversees Radio Sawa and the Voice of America. The station broadcasts 24 hours-a-day from seven transmitters throughout the Middle East and features a mix of Arabic and Western pop music with news headlines every half-hour. According to the Free Press, BBG Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week that Radio Sawa "may be the star of our efforts in the war on terrorism." He added that: "In an age when Arab boycotts of American products are widespread, a U.S. government-run radio station almost overnight has become the most popular voice of its kind in major portions of the Middle East, including Baghdad." But "the BBG rejects charges that Radio Sawa is a propaganda tool," the Free Press writes.