RFE's Radio Azadi, Afghanistan's most popular media outlet, celebrated the opening of a new state-of-the-art broadcast bureau yesterday in Kabul. The move completes the rollout of a series of ambitious mobile news and citizen journalism projects, connecting Radio Azadi more directly with the growing number of mobile phone users across Afghanistan.
"We have to reach our listeners where they are, and mobile technology is playing an increasingly important role in the daily lives of Afghans," says RFE Associate Director of Broadcasting Akbar Ayazi. "This new facility provides our journalists with an upgraded multimedia infrastructure and is a great complement to our radio and web delivery systems."
We have to reach our listeners where they are, and mobile technology is playing an increasingly important role in the daily lives of Afghans.
In October 2010, Radio Azadi partnered with mobile service provider Etisalat to launch an interactive SMS news service
allowing mobile phone users in Afghanistan to subscribe to free news updates and emergency alerts from the station. Five months since its launch, the new service has already attracted over 200,000 subscribers.
In addition, mobile phone users can now send Radio Azadi photos and videos from their mobile devices, and the station has launched a new radio program during which many of the hundreds of messages it receives are read on the air. Most recently, Radio Azadi and Etisalat incorporated a fee-based IVR (Intelligent Voice Response) technology into the mobile service, allowing on-demand audio streams of Radio Azadi broadcasts including breaking news, economics, sports and political satire via mobile phone. Afghanistan has an estimated 57 percent penetration rate for mobile phone use
- 17 million subscribers out of a population of 29 million.
The opening celebration was co-hosted by Voice of America (VOA), which shares the Kabul bureau with RFE. Speaking at the event was David Ensor, Director for Communications and Public Diplomacy of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, who said, "I know that a lot of important Afghan history that is yet to come will be reported superbly from this facility."About Radio Azadi
In the nine years since RFE launched Radio Azadi as part of the effort to help build a peaceful and democratic Afghanistan, the station has become the most popular media outlet in the country (Source: Intermedia). For more on Afghanistan, check out our news page
and RFE's "Gandhara
" blog.About RFE
RFE is an independent, international news and broadcast organization whose programs -- radio, Internet, and television -- reach influential audiences in 21 countries such as Russia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the republics of Central Asia. It is funded by the U.S. Congress through the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).