KDVS has recently added Al-Jazeera’s English newscast to its morning lineup, playing from 8 to 8:30 a.m., Monday through Friday.
Al-Jazeera, the Middle East’s largest news outlet, has long been available online, but this is the first public broadcast available in the Davis and Sacramento areas.
“Al-Jazeera has the most extensive coverage of the events going on in the Middle East,” said Mike Mastrangelo, KDVS programming director. “For them it’s not some sort of passing fad like it is for some of the American reporting.”
KDVS will not have to pay anything extra for the broadcast because of their affiliation with The Pacifica Radio network, which provides content to all of its members at no extra cost.
“Al-Jazeera is an international voice for the Middle East,” Mastrangelo said. “It’s not just news people in the Middle East watch, similar to Voice for America or BBC. It’s meant to be international.”
The idea to broadcast Al-Jazeera came about when Mastrangelo asked other KDVS employees if they had any ideas about how to fill a vacant time slot. Zack Barnes, KDVS underwriting director, suggested Al-Jazeera after hearing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton call Al-Jazeera “real news” in comparison to what most Americans are watching.
KDVS already programs “Democracy Now! The War and Peace Report” and “Free Speech Radio News” on weekdays, at noon and 4:30 p.m., respectively.
“As a freeform radio station we have a lot of music and DJs, but it’s also part of our responsibility to educate the community,” Barnes said. “Al-Jazeera has often been stigmatized, but they have become more and more legitimized and we wanted to have them on the air because they are accurate and reputable.”
Dean Tayara, a junior managerial economics major who has spent the last three summers in Syria, said he is anxious to see how the broadcast will be received.
“Growing up watching Al-Jazeera, you’re used to the violence and reality that they cover,” he said. “It’s more graphic and it’s not so lobby driven. You get a much more holistic view of what is happening there, and I’m not sure if it will be received well in communities that have been watching American news their whole lives.”
Tayara is thankful and believes the Muslim community will appreciate the coverage, but hopes the newscasts will be executed appropriately.
“If it’s just being used to poke fun and highlight what’s wrong with the Middle East, I think there would be no use,” he said. “That’s not what Al-Jazeera is about.”
So far, Barnes is pleasantly surprised that there has not been any backlash from community members.
“It’s reassuring to know that we brought something to the community and they are actually appreciating it,” he said. “Part of freeform radio is providing outlets for a small population, and we definitely think we’re broadcasting what our community wants to hear.”
ANDY VERDEROSA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.