Radio Mustaqel: Online radio dedicated to alternative ‘rebellious’ Arabic songs

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(Photo: Handout from Radio Mustaqel)
AMMAN — While modern Arabic songs are widely popular and inhabit the airwaves and online streaming services across the Arab world, alternative Arabic songs, aren’t as widely prevalent, even though they have their own listeners and admirers.اضافة اعلان

Anas Al-Hourani, a radio man who is passionate about alternative songs, decided to create the first mobile radio app that plays only alternative songs. “Radio Mustaqel”, which means “independent radio” in Arabic, can be found on Android and IOS mobile app stores. It plays alternative songs 24 hour a day.

“It is an independent radio that only cares about Alternative Arabic music. We aim to provide Arab Youth, who are (restricted) due to the problems of our generation, a chance to express themselves in a safe space,” Hourani told Jordan News.

“I’ve listened to alternative songs since more than 10 years ago, and I have always been dreaming of a radio that is limited just to alternative songs. However, I never imagined I would be the first to make this happen on the ground,” he added.

Hourani believes that “radio will never die”, and while music is available online, listening to these songs on the radio is different. “The radio can surprise you, and you might listen to a song on radio that you had not listened to for years — I wanted to get this feeling with alternative songs,” he said.

“I believe that this type of song has a large audience, especially in Jordan and the Levant, however, its audiences are oppressed. They have always been eager to have a platform that gathers all their favourite songs in one place,” Hourani said.

Hourani pointed out that digital transformation started to take over the world, and that is one of the main reasons behind choosing to make “Radio Mustaqel” an online radio app.

“At first, I chose a specific playlist of alternative songs to play with my friends as a pilot… I was overwhelmed by their positive feedbacks” Hourani said. He said that the lockdowns due to the pandemic, and the positive feedback he got from his friends pushed him to make it happen.

“I believe that I was lucky enough to fully benefit from the lockdowns. It was a chance for me to do intensive research about alternative songs and singers, and even the problems these song might face,” he said.

He said they try to be as selective as they can while choosing their playlist, especially since some songs exceed certain “barriers and limits” in the Arab world, and face many obstacles. “We shall not forget that this type of song is basically rebellious and insurgent,” Hourani said.

He said that dealing with the audience of this particular genre in generally hard. “Those people know exactly what songs they want to listen to, and search intensively for specific songs that talk about them and their stories. I always welcome their suggestions and recommendations,” Hourani said.

By listening to listeners’ suggestions and accommodating them in the playlist, he makes them feel part of the whole process. “This makes me happy and strengthens our affiliation to (the project), and encourages us to move forward and keep going,” he said.

Hourani revealed that the radio had not received any financial support yet. 
“This project is funded from my own budget, neither governmental nor private entities have offered to support us. However, I still hope that someone would support us one day so we can develop and give more,” he said.
Although the online radio app is still brand-new and is still on its trial run, it has received more than 20,000 users up until last month.

“I am overwhelmed by the feedback and how the radio has succeeded in reaching a large number of people in a short time, without even having to advertize about it,” Hourani said. “It’s all just word of mouth, people liked the idea and shared it with their friends.”

He believes that this type of songs harmonizes with the mentality of the new generation; therefore, he expects the number of listeners to grow accordingly.
“The theme of these songs is insubordination, so is the new generation who reject and defy the barriers and obstacles that the Arab world sets for them,” Hourani said.

“In the next phase, when the radio kicks off officially, it will present various programs. However, just as the theme of our radio focuses on divergence, our programs will be different too,” he said. 

He said that according to studies and statistics, Jordan is a pioneer in this type of song and he stressed the importance of supporting local talents.

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