The first thing I am asked about Da Saba Storay Radio – by non-Afghans of course – is what does it mean? The short answer is: it means Morning Star Radio.
But there is a longer answer. In Afghanistan, before all the wars started – though the warning signs were clear for all to see – during the time of Sardar Dawood Khan, one song was very popular on Kabul Radio. It was a song by Ahmad Khan and it went like this:
Ay da saba storiya kala ba khejhegee tuh?
Oh morning star, when are you going to arise?
This song has often been on my mind in the intervening years, as Afghanistan lurched from one crisis to another. Morning Star, when ARE you going to arise? When is there going to be hope for Afghanistan? How long can things continue to go from bad to worse?
This sums up the aims and character of Da Saba Storay Radio. It is looking for new hope in Afghanistan. And according to the motto “Traditional Solutions for Modern Problems”, it is doing this by tapping into national and religious traditions in the consciousness of the population at large.
Transmission of Da Saba Storay Radio programmes has already begun on FM87.7. Though the transmitter is in Jalalabad, calls were received and the signal was audible as far afield as Kunar, north of Jalalabad, and Charikar north of Kabul. This augurs well for Da Saba Storay’s intention to be heard and popular in the border regions.
Listeners to PACT Radio programmes will know that PACT Radio puts on 12 hours programming daily. This programming is a mix of religious, topical, talk-back, cultural and entertainment-education (drama) programmes. For the time being, the main programmes to have gone on air are religious programmes, produced in Jalalabad. The main features of this religious programming is its topicality – it seeks to address current issues in the light of age-old religious traditions – and its focus – each programme deals with and seeks to address a particular issue in society.
Also on air in the first transmissions from Da Saba Storay Radio was the highly popular Da Pulay Poray Drama, in which current issues in border society are depicted in the form of storylines that are both educational and entertaining. Da Saba Storay Radio is to a considerable degree modeled on its BBC domestic counterpart – Radio Five Live – while of course being adapted and tailored in accordance with the needs and conditions of Afghan society. Indeed, Da Saba Storay Radio has been labelled “a Five Live for the border regions”. Like Radio Five Live, Da Saba Storay Radio puts on regular travel news. This feature is called Tag-ra-Tag. Where is there a road-block? Where has there been a landslide? Which roads are dangerous, which ones are safe? The type of issues covered in Da Saba Storay travel programme are a reflection of Afghan society. According to the tried and tested Five Live formula of “news and sport”, Da Saba Storay Radio also gives a lot of importance to sport and has a regular sport update programme called Lobghary.
Da Saba Storay Radio has an extensive network of reporters and production bases throughout the border regions. With Da Saba Storay Radio in its early stages, it is still working on networking its main centre in Jalalabad with other production centres. Once this has been achieved, Da Saba Storay Radio will be in a position to increase its transmission time to the 12 hours programming currently available to it, and to which listeners can still tune in on www.pactradio.com (listen live). Da Saba Storay Radio will then work to transmit all day and all night, even Inshallah until the rising of the morning star.