SouriaLi: New online radio station seeks to unite Syrians – By Katherine Jane O’Neill
“It’s not just a radio, it’s a radio carrying the Syrian voice,” this is the way courage is brought back to the hearts of the passionate and the hopeful Syrians. Despite all dangers, threats, and forceful departure of their homeland, a group of Syrians from different professions as well as the media industry rise to influence and motivate others who have lost elements of hope.
An online Syrian radio station is birthed from the hearts of those who still believe in a colorful Syria and its wise people who accept their differences to come together and rebuild a new, powerful country which team members of the radio believe this to be possible through delivering positive informative media.
SouriaLi is the newest Syrian online radio station which carries a social political angle to establish a mutual understanding and awareness ground and let as many qualitative colorful and peaceful voices speak among this silent grey war.
The name holds double meaning, “SouriaLi” in Arabic is translated to “Syria is mine”. The second meaning refers to the term “surrealism” reflecting the current devastating situation in Syria.
It is apparent that the radio station is biased to the side of national interests of Syria with a mission and dedication to working with Syrian people in deploying an advanced level of awareness in civil society, active citizenship, communication, women-empowerment and youth-motivation through high quality music, performance and public affairs programming that tends to inform, educate and inspire the future active individuals in the future Syria. The team of SouriaLi have looked beyond the idea of disagreeing with different notions, and decided to use the differences in thoughts to add a twist to the station, as listeners talk about anything and everything they desire.
“We are trying to build a society that can live together accepting their differences before their similarities,” explained one of SouriaLi founders, Iyad Kallas, who is Syrian entrepreneur who left the country three years ago because of the mandatory military service in the country. “We are building with Syrian hands for a better Syrian future,” elaborated Kallas.
Unlike other local Syrian radio stations, SouriaLi is free of the government control, unmonitored, unfiltered from the people’s voice, as the team believes the radio is more than the average radio, it is Syrian’s daily, political and social struggles; something which is taboo, to some extent, to be discussed on air in Syria.
SouriaLi will tackle the daily simple life of every Syrian’s creating spontaneous interactivity to express freely all points of views, which will be devoted to the idea of freedom and subjective criticism as far as the present and future Syria is concerned.
Caroline Ayoub, who was detained by the Syrian Regime for one month and was released for health reasons, was one of the main contributors to bringing the dream of a free Syrian radio come real, “we wanted to do something new and different to the silent majority who’s always been scared of changes.”
With 15 members operating the station from different parts of the world, SouriaLi was established. “It is a miraculous thing,” said award winning Syrian radio host and producer Honey al-Sayed. “It’s not an easy thing to establish a media entity over Skype, but that’s how much passion we all have for Syria and that’s how much passion we have to make this happen because it is very vital and important for Syria to do this today.”
Although Sayed’s background is communication media, other team members have no experience in media; however, they believe an effective and positive Syrian media is one of the key elements to rebuild a strong and stable new Syria.
“Syrians are the ones who will rebuild Syria. It is critical that we are positive that we provide messages of freedom and democracy and people are no longer afraid of these ideas,” explained Ayoub with a hopeful tone.
Although the radio operates from outside Syria, shows are aired in Syrian time and vary between musical, entertaining and many diverse interactive programs.
“It carries diverse programs and music to suit the colorful mosaic of Syria — it is life,” said Sayed. “This is what Syrians miss today, life… there is no life in Syria so we want to bring it back to them.”
One week into launching the station, the team has received tremendously positive feedback from listeners: “We had shows that were downloaded over 500 times,” said Ayoub with excitement.
Each team member struggled directly or indirectly with the Syrian regime, motivating all members to help Syrians inside the country to rise with hope and power.
Sayed concluded: “Whether the regime stays or leaves our radio stands and will continue to grow.