The Jordanian FM radio spectrum is becoming crowded. But with what?

18/10/2005

MEDIA | Ahmad Humeid goes airwave surfing

It started when I was trying to find an empty frequency on my wife’s car radio. She has an iPod that she would like to listen to in the car, so I got her a little FM transmitter (called the iTrip) that can transmit audio to a car radio.

I thought this would be an easy task. Boy was I wrong. As I scanned the airwaves I discovered that Jordan’s FM radio spectrum has become quite crowded. So instead of concentrating on finding a free frequency for the iPod, I ended up surfing the airwaves and discovering what’s out there. (Eventually I was able to get the iPod playing on the radio but only after extending the iTrip’s antenna which is was concealed by a sticker, but that’s a different story).

The Israeli occupation!

I live in an area of Amman that is exposed towards the west. When the new private radio stations started broadcasting around a year ago, I could hardly receive some of them in my house. My car radio was better, but it too was experiencing a weakness of signal from a certain local music station I sometimes listen to.

But what my airwave surf exposed was that I was able to receive a dozen different Israeli radio stations loud and clear. I could also receive some Palestinian radio stations. In fact, every time I drive up toward the Suweileh area, which is very exposed towards the west, the interference from Radio stations from across the river becomes so powerful that it drowns out the BBC’s Arabic service.

It seems that the Israelis are using excessively powerful transmitters for their multitude of Radio stations. This is doubly annoying. First, there is the problem of interference and secondly is the fact that these Hebrew language stations are totally useless for Jordanian listeners! What the Israelis are gaining from polluting our airwaves is beyond me.

I am no radio policy expert. But it is my presumption that issues like the power of radio signals are regulated by international treaties and policies. Our local radio industry is booming with more than a dozen stations licensed and maybe more to come. The interference coming from across the western border seems to me like a real problem that affects our nascent radio listening industry (have a look at Nasimjo’s radio guide for a radio hobbyist’s list of FM radio stations in Jordan).

Music overload

Another thing that became very obvious to me during my radio surf was that music stations are swamping the airwaves. Both Arabic and western music stations are dominating the scene. One exception is the newly launched Amman Net Radio (on 92.4 FM, also on ammannet.net), which covers news, local politics, culture, media and sports.

Music oriented station are something delightful to have. But it’s time we, the listeners, are offered a more balanced radio diet. Top 40 and oldies stations are fine. But how about some interesting talk radio for example.

Of the new English language stations, only Play 99.6 has managed to put live Djs on the air, if only in a limited manner. If people only wanted to listen to a playlist of songs they might as well just listen to their own music collections from CDs or an MP3 player.

The music oriented radio market is indeed becoming crowded, without much differentiation between stations. Most of the new stations’ licences actually state that they are not to broadcast news. In time, I hope that these stations will evolve beyond their current formats into something more colourful and sophisticated.

Public Radio please..

The role of Radio Jordan’s English service is not to be forgotten. Currently, Radio Jordan seems to be stuck in a major way. As a government run media channel (read: tax payer supported) it has the opportunity, even the duty, to become more of a public service radio, instead of the shapeless mishmash of music and some news it today broadcasts.

The irony is that Jordan’s radio industry is being born when the global radio industry is busy getting re-born. If only our local radio industry would start seriously looking at the dramatic transformations the global industry is undergoing. Podcasting, for example, is only one year old but is already becoming a significant medium (Yahoo just launched its podcasting site this week). There is a wealth of content out there that Radio Jordan and others could re-broadcast or licence. This will surely make for a much more intelligent, and enlightening listening experience.

9 Comments

  1. Amanda says:

    Dude, I agree with all the above. What crap all those new radio stations broadcast!

  2. Basem says:

    Excellent article!

    a couple of issues quote my attention:

    1:

    The Israeli occupation as -righteously referred to-, extends to the exploitation of the airwaves and frequency spectrum, to the dismay of not only the odd ipod -equipped with iRide- owner in Jordan, but to a serious consequences on our national mobile operators who are literally suffering from interference from our unwelcomed neighbours.

    2:

    Truly, in Jordan, FM Radio stations are either the echo of -dare to say blatant- officialdom or -more recently- a continues stream of music and ofcourse, the no-frills continues Quran recitation!

    I long for the days of BBC Radio 4 in Britain; it hosts diverse content that one wouldn’t have imagined that radio -in light of the above background- can be that informative & essentially entertaining. (I tried to listen to its internet live stream, but its not like the real thing, is it not?)

    It is flattering to know that we have a couple of “serious” stations now, especially that BBC-Arabic quote the Monte-Carlo deficiency of excessive and extended music hours.

    Here in Saudi, I find myself unwillingly hooked on -with utter guilt- NPR and AFN, a combined radio service offered by the American forces on FM for the sheer entertainment of their forces in the region…

    but I can’t help it, with my daily dosage of 2-3 hours driving , being able to listen to a host of top US nation wide talk-shows and “legendry” anchormen -and women- along with the 1 & 5 minutes in-between-shows sound-bites and nuggets; it is all but too entertaining and informative for my ears, plus a hint of “know thy enemy” motto as a cover-up.

    3:

    Maybe I am not aware of the whole scene, but I think we should opt for a catalyzed radio “evolution” rather than catching up with the radio “revolution”, the latter have some signs but it is not yet clear how it will work out, I would have thought that adapting proven industry practices is more appropriate.

  3. nasimjo says:

    I’ve spent 2 days wanting to comment on this post & finally did ;)

    its been about a month for me wanting to post sth about Jordanian FM stations in jordan… i hope i will do that soon..anyway, lets see what do we have here 1st.

    Most of the Radio Stations on the Ammani spectrum are … a shame!
    i just cant understand the benifits those non-stop music station owners are getting, Mazaj,Ahlen,Beat,Mood,Rotana …. promos? 0900 lines ? do those really get the costs of their stations ?!! cant they get the idea that a radio station is not about getting a coupla PCs with music all over it & high school students working for 100 JDs a month?!!

    a radio is part of a community, and thats what those stations are lacking despite their popularity,

    I would have found it awesome for a station like Mood to have live shows,, & even “after midnight Dr love” shows,,,, but they aint getting it!

    getting to other stations, Play 99.6 , in its exactly 1 year on the air, got well into the community, & got deeply into people & kids’ life… excluding my negative view of the music their playing getting into kids minds (I wont discuss that here,ill do it on my blog!)… they did great job for the past year.

    Amman net is truly the most station i respect from the arabic stations spectrum that i’ve abandoned… Radio amman net proved even before getting the license of broadcasting news & political shows that a radio station can fight for the community and be (A RADIO STATION) with the least possible costs!

    getting to Radio Jordan Broadcasting, the main arabic seervice & radio Amman FM owned RJB had a positive restructuring plan… those stations got more into the community and improved the interactive shows…. There’s even a major change in their way in dealing & analyzing the news (Finally).

    Jordan FM (The English service of RJB) is also doing well regarding people interaction, there are 2-3 evening interactive shows (one of which is a Dr Love show!) , and the only station with interactive music… with LC (Listeners choice) being the English radio show with the highest rating upon all radio shows on western English stations in Jordan… people can express their self in music, so why on earth do those private stations jamming our kids minds with pornographic Rap & RnB music!!! A question for Play & Beat FM owners!?

    Jordan FM was and still jordans voice to the world ,,, the wave of 11690 khz on the SW is proudly attracting a lot of SW fans all over Europe, a google search can demonstrate this..
    Still in my opinion , Jordan FM’s way to interact with SW lsners was better in the past, the policy of playing East Vs West music in the afternoon (which is the period of SW transmission) showed its failure, a prove of that is LC’s Sunday show which gains most of the interaction from SW lsners.

    About the Israeli stations, I guess its about mostly about they having a lot of stations of the air, the topography of our country facing theirs is the reason of this interference, they in power there stations’ transmission in order to get to the hidden sides of the eastern hills of their towns and Cities so this transmission gets loud and clear here in Jordan.. while most of the new private stations in amman have poor transmissions not giving a damn about their coverage..! as simple as that! That also explains why you can hear emails on Jordan FM from Jerusalem for example & not hearing them on Play!

    in short, for me : RADIO = COMMUNITY PEOPLE INTERACTION, even thru music!

  4. Jordan: FM radio spectrum

    Ahmad Humeid says that the Jordanian FM radio spectrum is becoming crowded. But with what?

  5. Nadim Attieh says:

    Nasimjo… Who are you?

    Most of the Radio Stations on the Ammani spectrum are … a shame? First of all, allow me to ask who are you? Apparently nothing, just looking around some topics to criticize…

    I saw your blogs and you were as usual criticizing radios playing normal upbeat music on that dark day (09-11-2005) well let me ask you this. If someone of your family members has a cancer, you dress up in black and sit and cry next to him? Or you’d do anything to cheer him up?

    Mr. Nasimjo… yesterday was perhaps one of the darkest days Jordan has ever faced. The overall mood was depressing and there was darkness in the hearts of many. Everywhere a person looked there were constant reminders of the tragedy that happened. Every station on TV showed the horror and every radio station silenced it’s voice in solidarity to play classical music which is to them a sign or respect. Some of the radio stations you personally dislike decided to show their solidarity in another way… they did not dim their broadcast nor did they play classical music. Did they do this for popularity or for ratings? NO! And if you think that then you are sadly mistaken. They did this for 2 reasons:

    1) To provide an ESCAPE from all the drama and sadness that was found everywhere in the past 24 hours. They did this to lift the spirits of those who were sad and upset by this nightmare. Music is known to sooth even the harshest of minds in the darkest of moments. They provided an escape from what’s happening for those who NEED it or WANT it. Even if it’s in the span of 3-5 minutes in a track. They would never do anything to disrespect our country for at the end of the day without the listeners and the fellow countrymen… what purpose do they have?

    2) The Second reason they aired their upbeat music was to send a strong message that says there are some aspects of Jordanian life that will never be affected by these murderers. They may bomb and try to put us down… but they will never diminish our will to move on.

    Mr. Nasimjo… With all due respect, you seem to know so much about the music industry as well as the intricate details of the radio world. With such knowledge and data I strongly advise you to open up your own radio station and make millions. You seem to have all the answers. Until then though please do everyone a favor and keep your comments applicable when you yourself have done something CONSTRUCTIVE in the world of FM.

    Oooh! And by the way, if you’d like to discuss it, feel free to add me:

    donutdigger@hotmail.com

    Cheers
    Nadim

  6. nasimjo says:

    … from My Reply post (http://nasimjo.blogspot.com/2005/11/in-response-for-my-review-about.html) on Mr Nadim’s Comment…
    … I say:

    1- My opinions are kept as mine, just like yours are yours.. this was the way i saw it, & this is my review regarding it using obvious facts not thoughts or claims.

    2- My Comment that you might have replyed on in Mr Humeids Post was submitted before those attacks happened, which means there’s a “Problem as i claim” already!

    3- “….If someone of your family members has a cancer, you dress up in black and sit and cry next to him? Or you’d do anything to cheer him up?…” … well, except the fact that a cancer affected human is not considered to be dead, I’m refering to the respect those stations are paying for the country and nation that were hit by those attacks.
    in an ordinary day 100s of people might die in Jordan, With respect to all the families of all those affected by the attacks, I’m saying the the reaction of the radio stations is not to be targeting the family of those mainly, but the situation the country and nation is passing through.

    4- of course not for rating or advs! during those days I didnt hear not even one single adv on those stations that did cope with the atmosphere. while on the other hand, Radio FANN FM had advs even through the Live transmission of the 5th-3rd Circle March!

    5- What a “strong message” is that with dumb and random non stop music! Even my MP3 player had a “stronger message” regarding what happened!

    6- Still wondering why you didnt post this on my Blog! Dont worry, I wont delete it! I’m a person with ethics!

  7. Rick W. says:

    Mate ye’r making a fuss out of nothin’!
    Lately several Israelis have reported not receiving any thing but Jordanian radio stations, which are for some bizarre reason situated close to the borders of Israel/Palestine so simply both the Israeli antenna services boosted their capability for both the Hebrew Israeli Stations and the Arabic Palestinian Stations. I was also able to get my favorite Kiss FM from back at the States in Amman!! Oh, wait… That was via satellite, oups!

    Also, You said and I quote “The Israeli Occupation” !!!!!!!
    What THE F__K?! Just because they have transmitters stronger than god on a Sunday morning doesn’t allow you to use the term “Occupation” referring to airwaves-jam in Amman which is 99% the fault of the Radio Stations in here.

    Also you said and I quote, again.
    “What the Israelis are gaining from polluting our airwaves is beyond me?”
    What are you? 8!?
    No one wants to “Pollute” your air with anything (in a completely unrelated subject yet slightly ironic the pollution level in Amman is heavier than several Midwestern states combined!)
    The next thing you’ll be writing about is Secret-Messages-in-the-Israeli-Radios-trying-to-damage-your-brain conspiracy!
    Yikes! They don’t have to!

    Cheers, and have a nice,’Sane’ and mind-free upcoming weekend!

  8. Tariq says:

    Ahmad help me out..

    What frequency are you using on the iTrip?

    I got one recently and its a nightmare trying to find a free station..

  9. Noor says:

    I Googled “empty fm radio transmission in Amman” and this post came up, I looked for any information that helps me find a free station, nothing, I found nothing!

    Can you help on this one? please? :)

Leave a Comment

  • gravamen