Thursday, July 30, 2015

RFE/RL's Radio Azadi

RFE/RL's Radio Azadi is the leading media outlet in Afghanistan today, reaching more than 60 percent of the Afghan population across the country with its radio, SMS and internet programs.


Fast Facts

  • Languages: Pashto, Dari
  • Coverage: 12 hours daily (7:00AM to 7:00 PM Kabul time)
  • Established: 1985 -1993, resumed 2002
  • Distribution: Radio (FM, AM, SW, satellite), Internet (website, mobile, social, YouTube)
  • Locations: Prague, Kabul
  • Staff: 26 (Prague), 53 (Kabul), approx. 25 stringers in Afghanistan, three in Pakistan, one in Iran


Media Environment

  • Journalists in Afghanistan are under constant threat of violence and intimidation from warlords, the Taliban and other extremists. Attempts have also been made to restrict media freedom in the name of “respect for Islamic values.” Defamation can be punished with imprisonment and/or a fine, while the punishment for blasphemy can be death.
  • The number of private television and radio stations has grown in Afghanistan, leading to increased competition among media operating in the country.




  • Research shows that Radio Azadi is the most popular and trusted media in Afghanistan. Besides being a leading source of news, its programs provide reliable information on the war on terror and extremism, corruption, warlordism, narcotics, human rights and other major socio-economic issues.
  • Trained videojournalists produce 15-20 videos and photo galleries each month for distribution via the Internet, documenting major political and social events and the lives of women, youth and internally displaced people.
  • Working with a local mobile company, Radio Azadi’s free SMS news alerts reach 300,000 subscribers four times a day. In addition, people can send free of charge their SMS texts and photos. As a result, Radio Azadi receives over 300 messages a day from Citizen Journalists.
  • Approximately 49 percent of the Afghan population is between the ages of 25-45. “New Thoughts” and the “Colors of Life” are feature programs that profile youth and discuss issues of concern to young people in Afghanistan.
  • Call-in shows and roundtables are central to Radio Azadi's programming. As a result, despite decades of violence, it has established a culture of debate and discussion among its listeners on major national and international issues. Through its unique program “In Search of Loved Ones,” Radio Azadi helps reunite families who have lost relatives to violence and war.
  • Radio Azadi has led the way in reporting on domestic abuse and women rights in Afghanistan. Radio Azadi was first to report in 2012 on a 16 year-old girl who was tortured by her in-laws. The girl, whose story was then picked up in national and international media, is now free and in a shelter receiving education -- and an Internet café for girls has been named after her.
  • In the run-up to Afghanistan’s presidential elections in 2009, Radio Azadi’s Akbar Ayazi hosted President Hamid Karzai and two of his leading contenders in Afghanistan’s first-ever televised presidential debate to feature an incumbent president.

Updated: 9 June 2015

From Our Off-Mic Blog

Radio Azadi radio distribution in Khunar province

Radio Azadi Distributes 20,000 Radios In Afghanistan

RFE's Radio Azadi has distributed nearly all 20,000 solar-powered, hand-cranked radios to Afghans across the country. More

Facts & Stats

30.55 million (World Bank estimate, 2013)

Most Common Languages:
Dari, Pashto, Uzbek, Turkmen, Balochi

Press Freedom Index (Freedom House):
Not Free, ranked 148 out of 199 (2015)

Press Freedom Index (RSF):
122 out of 180 (2015)

Corruption Index (Transparency Int.):
172 out of 175 (2014)

Global Peace Index (IES):
161 out of 162 (2014)

Human Rights Watch:
Report on Afghanistan (2015)

Amnesty International:
Afghanistan Report (2014/2015)

Meet RFE/RL's Afghan Service

RFE/RL – A video grab of Radio Free Afghanistan’s Hashem Mohmand, from the briefing on Afghan-Pakistani security, Prague, 01Jul2008

Service Snapshots: Hashem Mohmand

Hashem Mohmand is the Director of RFE/RL's Afghanistan Service. We sat down with him to discuss his beginnings as a journalist. More