Following what staffers are calling a senior-level directive, Qatar Foundation’s QF Radio has canceled most of its programs this week, to make way for more QF-focused content.
Residents who have been tuning in over the past few days will notice that “Drive,” “Innovations,” “Legendary Artists,” and “The Fashion Show,” as well as regular news bulletins, are no longer being broadcast. Classical music and interviews with QF community members have replaced much of that programming.
However, popular morning show “Rise” continues to air, and QF Factoids – brief segments that explain topics such as glass-making, the origins of the ice cream cone and the komodo dragon, are also being broadcast.
Speaking to Doha News, employees at the station have expressed dismay with the sudden changes, which included the firing of at least a dozen people across the English and Arabic stations.
“Everyone is extremely upset about this,” one employee who requested anonymity said. “We are a family – we built this thing and we are all very close. The morale is extremely low.”
It is unclear why the radio station is suddenly being restructured, but some insiders are blaming upper-level politics for the shuffle. In September, Media Center manager Saad Al-Hodaifi left to become acting executive general manager and channel director of Al Jazeera Children’s Channel. But he returned to QF Radio as a consultant this week, and began the restructuring process.
“We don’t know what the plan is,” one employee said. “The guy who’s come in to make the changes was the guy who set up the direction (of the station) to begin with.”
QF Radio relaunched in February of this year as separate English and Arabic-language stations with their own unique programming. At the time, “shows on innovation, technology, sport and current events” were promised.
But in a shift from that vision, QF management has now said it would like the radio station to focus more on the organization itself, according to employees who spoke to Doha News.
“I see their point – you want to focus more on QF,” one staffer said. “You fund this radio station, so absolutely. But this isn’t the way to do it. You want to expand your brand? You want to enrich it? You want it to be in people’s heads? Drilling it and shoving it down everybody’s throats isn’t going to work.”
Others said they agree that QF should be the focus, but that a balance between educational content and entertainment was key to maintaining an audience.
QF officials were not immediately available for comment.
Residents have long complained about the quality of English-language radio in Qatar, which is limited due to licensing restrictions, with the only options being QF Radio and QBS.
With the new changes, some have expressed concern that the station will lose its growing audience.
“We had something good. I don’t get it. People were listening. Nobody’s going to listen now,” one employee said.
Meanwhile, questions and condolences have been pouring in on Twitter from residents, following an announcement from one of QF Radio’s main presenters that his shows were canceled.
@NabilNashar I'm back listening to effin' QBS… ugh…… good luck habibi…. for what it's worth I loved your stuff….
— Pete Draper, I'm OK (for a) Boomer (@PeterDraper108) December 10, 2013
@NabilNashar really going to miss the show! No more worthwhile radio out there. Back to CDs and iPod. Have a quick recovery for your knee!
— Kirsten Köhler (@kirzzyboy) December 10, 2013
— Atif Safder Ahmed (@atifsafderahmed) December 11, 2013
Meanwhile, one staffer urged: “If you enjoyed QF Radio’s programming, please do get in touch with QF via social media or other means.
Do you tune into QF Radio? Thoughts?