On March 19th, 2020, five friends had a discussion via facebook about the situation in the world and Western Asia, the role of communication, and music; by the next day, they had already started Radio Alhara (Neighbourhood Radio). Partnering with Yamakan Radio, who have programs based in both Beirut and Tunis, Radio Alhara became the third station in this expanding network. The project itself was already inspired by Radio il Hai Beirut and Radio Alhuma Tunis, which were in turn inspired by Radio Quartiere Milano. Alhara is a communal radio station and while it began in Bethlehem and Ramallah, it aims to extend to other places in Palestine and throughout the world, and serve as an open platform for listening, discussing, and chatting. The founders hope this is the beginning of a collective space that will continue once this worldwide crisis is over.
According to Anastas, one of the founders, Radio Alhara’s programming and content are organized in an organic style, with the submission of unsolicited material encouraged through the radio’s website or dropbox. Guests like the curator Reem Shadid and artist Basma Alsharif have been invited to curate. Just listening to Radio Alhara provides a feeling of unpredictability, of excitement, where tuning in is a complete surprise; this appears to be the point. Japanese ambient, Afro Funk, the Beatles, obscure hip hop, free jazz: musicians are simply playing what they feel like listening to. While Radio Alhara has emerged in a time of isolation and boredom, it’s going a long while to bring listeners together, wherever they may be.
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