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QF Radio

QF Radio/Facebook

QF Radio

Qatar Foundation’s Arabic and English radio stations have officially closed up shop after seven years on the air.

Presenters bid emotional farewells to fans on Twitter yesterday, thanking them for their support.

Speaking to Doha News, presenter Laura Finnerty said:

“There’s been a ton of support and well wishing from listeners, and they were the ones that made it worth waking up at 4am every day.

Qatar’s audience is wonderfully unique as was QFR’s output. For me personally, I’ve had the most fantastic 5 years here, working with amazing people.”

New focus

QF had first announced plans to shutter the stations in June.

At the time, Mohammed Al Beshri, QF media center manager, denied that the decision was due to cost-cutting.

Rather, he told Doha News that the organization was refocusing its media operations to put more emphasis on social media.

The two stations had 19 staff, and at least some of them will be leaving Qatar. However, others have found different jobs within QF itself.

Origins

QF Radio was initially launched to educate residents about goings-on at the foundation.

Since 2009, both stations underwent several program revamps, including one that took it off air for nearly a year in 2013.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

OCV Photo / Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

At that time, around a dozen people were fired to make way for more QF-oriented content, and listeners heard mostly classical music until the stations relaunched in October 2014.

The closures comes as a blow to many local radio listeners, who often complain about a lack of options in Qatar.

The government has previously pledged to issue more radio licenses, but these have been historically hard to secure.

Thoughts?

 For illustrative purposes only

OCV Photo / Flickr

For illustrative purposes only

After seven years on the airwaves, Qatar Foundation‘s Arabic and English radio stations will end their operations in October, the organization announced yesterday.

The stations will enter a “transitional phase” over the next four months and will broadcast “past and current successful programs” before ceasing all transmissions at the end of October, QF said in a statement.

Mohammed Al Beshri, QF media center manager, denied that the decision for the closure was due to cost-cutting.

Instead, it is part of an organization-wide refocus on its media operations, particularly favoring social media, he told Doha News.

He said he “hoped” that none of the 19 members of staff currently working on the channels will be laid off.

“Our plan for the next six months will be to try to find all the staff other jobs in the foundation. We hope that no-one will lose their jobs,” he said.

“Why should we invest more money when we have experienced media staff at the radio station? Media roles are changing right now. We want to concentrate on social media and other roles which operate better than the radio stations,” Al Beshri added.

At the time of their launch, the stations’ aim was to educate Qatar residents about the work of QF.

“I think we succeeded – everybody knows about QF now. It is the right time to shut down the stations at the end of October,” he said. And he paid tribute to staff working on the stations, who he described as a “talented team”.

Since the stations launched in 2009, QF has grown “exponentially”, QF said in its statement announcing the closure.

“As the organization enters a new phase of sustainable development and builds on its foundation and past achievements to deliver more focused results, as part of the country’s drive to achieve Qatar National Vision 2030, it must continue to be more efficient and beneficial to the public, and evolve the way it communicates with its audiences,” it added.

The stations will continue broadcasting programs on their Ramadan and summer schedules. This is likely to include repeats as its programming winds down.

Program revamps

The English and Arabic language radio stations – which operate on 91.7FM and 93.7FM, respectively – have undergone several overhauls, most recently last summer.

When it went back on-air in November last year, the schedule included more programs but fewer live shows.

 For illustrative purposes only

Chantelle D'mello

For illustrative purposes only

At the time, producer and presenter Laura Finnerty said the shake-up was part of an effort to include more QF experts and make the content more appealing to a younger audience.

It had been the second revamp in a year. At the end of 2013, programs were suddenly cancelled and around a dozen people were fired in what was said at the time to be a plan to make way for more QF-oriented content.

For the following 10 months, listeners heard mostly classical music and community interviews, until a re-launch was announced in October 2014.

The stations’ closure is a blow to local radio listeners, who often bemoan the lack of choice in Qatar.

Despite pledges by the government to issue more radio licences, entrepreneurs have previously spoken of the difficulties in securing broadcasting rights.

Will you miss QF Radio? Thoughts?

OCV Photo / Flickr

After 10 months of airing mostly classical music and community interviews, QF Radio’s English- and Arabic-language stations are launching a new show schedule.

The Qatar Foundation-funded stations have been in flux since December, after several of its programs were suddenly taken off air amid a shakeup that resulted in the firing of at least a dozen people.

Now, after months of discussion, the stations, which are on 91.7FM and 93.7FM, are back with a new community focus, and a mix of shows and music from all over the world.

One of the new programs, for example, is “The Debate Show,” in which Education City students discuss current events with a live audience. The program will air from 7 to 8pm on Sundays and is hosted by local comedian Hamad Al Amari.

Other new programs include:

  • Connect, a weekly show about trending topics on social media;
  • Creative Endeavors, in which students and faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar explore how creativity enriches lives through interviews, discussions and events;
  • Inside Music, which will be produced and presented by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and educate listeners about the history of classical and world music; and
  • The Silver Screen, which will explore cinematography of classic and newly released movies through interviews with actors, directors and others.
Laura Finnerty

QF Radio

Laura Finnerty

Nabil Al Nashar

QF Radio

Nabil Al Nashar

Each will debut in English and Arabic.

QF Radio is also re-introducing the popular afternoon “Drive Show,” which will once again be hosted by Nabil Al Nashar from 3:30pm to 4:30pm.

Additionally, the morning show “Rise,” which Doha News is featured in once a week, has been extended again to two hours, airing from 6:30am to 8:30am with hosts Scotty Boyes and Laura Finnerty.

Trying again

Many Qatar residents – especially those stuck in traffic – have long complained that English-language radio stations here leave much to be desired.

One reason for this may be a lack of competition.

Dave Clausen/Flickr

In 2012, the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage pledged to award more licenses to private companies to launch radio stations, following the passage of the new media law. But that law is still under consideration, and licenses remain difficult to obtain.

That leaves residents with a handful of options, including listening to Al Jazeera English on the radio, or tuning into QBS Radio. French station Oryx FM also plays the occasional English-language song, as does US-based Radio Sawa.

Due to the lack of listening options, when QF Radio relaunched in February 2013, the station received a warm reception. At the time, “shows on innovation, technology, sport and current events” were promised.

But less than a year later, most of the shows were taken off air. QF Radio officials did not comment on the move, but employees at the time suggested that management wanted shows to focus more on QF itself.

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

No Justin Bieber

Speaking to Doha News this week, Boyes said that he was excited about the changes, and expressed confidence that the programming wouldn’t have to be retooled again.

Scotty Boyes

QF Radio

Scotty Boyes

“Of course, we’re all pretty nervous about how the audience will respond, but that just comes with the territory when you’re creating something from nothing and laying it out for everyone to judge…

The direction we are taking with the station is as a direct result of countless meetings and proposals with all concerned parties and QF management. I’m confident we are satisfying the vision of those involved in the decision making process and I think once the ball is rolling that QF Radio will be an asset to the community and to Qatar as a country.”

With regards to the music that will be played on the station, Boyes said that current pop hits wouldn’t be featured. He explained:

“You can expect a wide variety of music from around the world and various genres. For those looking for the latest Justin Bieber track, they will be disappointed….

But we are trying to strike a delicate balance of good music that is both entertaining and also teaches you something about the world, a people, and their culture. Ultimately, we are a talk radio station, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun and keep people coming back for more with a wide variety of entertainment.”

Do you plan to tune in? Thoughts?