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QF Radio to come out of hiatus with second relaunch in a year

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 For illustrative purposes only
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Updated on Oct. 24 to reflect a new relaunch date for the fall season

After spending a few months retooling its offerings, QF Radio has announced it will return to the airwaves on Sunday, Nov. 1 Sunday, Oct. 25 with three times the number of programs on its schedule.

The Qatar Foundation-run English and Arabic language radio stations operate on 91.7FM and 93.7FM, respectively.

They both went back to the drawing board for a second time in a year over the summer, shelving much of their live programming during the retooling process.

The new line-up will include 25 shows – up from the eight scheduled last year. Two of the radio station’s most popular shows – Rise and Drive – will continue to run.

The early morning Rise show will keep its 6:30 to 8:30am slot, and feature producer Laura Finnerty hosting alongside Georgetown University – School of Foreign Service in Qatar senior Sami Wehbe.

Roger Prior also joins the team as a producer. His entrance comes after former Rise co-host Scott Boyes left Qatar to work for a radio station in neighboring Saudi Arabia earlier this year.

Boyes had steadfastly refused to play Justin Bieber on the radio, but that unofficial ban on the young Canadian pop star will apparently be lifted next week, Finnerty said.

Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber

“The music we play has always got to be safe, but we also are aware that half of Qatar’s population is under 30 years old. While we cover jazz and classical, we will also have more contemporary music – as long as it’s appropriate,” she added.

Doha News will continue to feature in the program on Sunday mornings with a rundown of the week’s top stories.

Meanwhile, the popular afternoon Drive program has been expanded to two hours, from 4 to 6pm daily.

In what is said to be an effort to put “more of a QF voice to QF Radio,” the stations will include students, faculty members and staff in its new schedule, which will have an “educational backbone, while also being entertaining,” Finnerty told Doha News.

Instability

QF Radio has been in a state of flux since it first launched two and a half years ago. Just 10 months into its inaugural year, the majority of its programs were suddenly canceled and around a dozen people fired in what was said to be a plan to make way for more QF-oriented content.

QF Radio
QF Radio

For the following 10 months, listeners heard mostly classical music and community interviews, until a re-launch was announced last October.

At the time, QF’s Media Center manager Mohammed Al Beshri said that the focus would be “to plant and nurture strong traditional values within the nation’s youth,” and one way of doing this would be to teach students how to produce and present their own radio shows.

The upcoming season looks set to expand that rationale, as the new line-up features a mix of shows covering topics including fashion, travel, art and language.

New line-up

Highlights of the new schedule are set to include:

  • Around the world in 30 minutes (Mondays at 6pm): A travel program presented by Sami Wehbe covering tourism, culture and music;
  • Style ahow (Sundays at 9:30pm): Covering a mix of fashion, art, design and graphics with students from Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar;
  • Egos, legends and icons (Mondays at 8pm): Legendary icons of the region are discussed and artists studied in-depth by experts from Mathaf Museum of Modern Art;
  • Obla Air (Sundays and Tuesdays at 1:30pm): A new Arabic-English language learning program in conjunction with the British Council; and
  • Innovations (Sundays at 8:30pm): Science and technology show.

Presenter Nabil Al Nashar
Presenter Nabil Al Nashar

After taking stock of the stations’ strategy, Finnerty said that the new season would “give much more attention to and focus on the experts available to us at QF,” while also trying to make them attractive to a younger audience.

“We are trying to share their expertise with the listeners. All our programs will have an educational backbone to them, but they will also be more youthful.

The music will be switched up to engage as many people as possible, but certainly the younger community in Qatar,” she said.

Addressing the station’s multiple retoolings, Finnerty added:

“It has been an important year for QF Radio. We have had lots of changes recently. To the outside, it might seem inconsistent. But over the past year, we have been trying to get the support and built the content.

“In my four years here, I feel very pleased with the direction we are going in.  I am very confident it is the right direction and that there will be consistency going forward.”

There are a limited number of English language radio stations on air in Qatar, with QBS Radio on 97.5FM being the main chat show/community station, while Al Jazeera English has a live audio feed of its TV broadcast.

Residents have repeatedly called for Qatar to have a good quality English station, but licenses to operate new radio stations are difficult to obtain.

Do you plan to tune into QF Radio when it relaunches? Thoughts?

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