April 2005 marked the one-year anniversary of VOA’s Radio Ashna (“Friend”), a contemporary, innovative 12-hour broadcast in Dari and Pashto to Afghanistan during prime time in the evening and throughout the night.
Tuning in to Ashna, Afghan audiences can hear the full range of programming – from reliable, in-depth news to poetry, music, sports and entertainment. Among the most popular programs are the daily Dari and Pashto call-in shows featuring Afghan experts, officials and others. These shows offer listeners an opportunity to express their opinions on an array of issues. “The call-in programs strengthen our connections with our listeners. They also keep us informed about what is important to our audience,” says Radio Ashna director Katherine Wood.
Another audience favorite is a late night cultural program, during which enthusiastic callers request their favorite poems and songs, and sometimes even recite their own creative work. Radio Ashna has also been listening to its audience, using feedback to improve its news, sports, youth, and feature programs.
Radio Ashna has a broad reach throughout Afghanistan. Unlike Afghanistan’s domestic radio stations, which broadcast to limited local areas, Radio Ashna has gained a nationwide following through its combined shortwave and medium wave transmissions, as well as FM frequencies in five major Afghan cities: Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Jalalabad, and Mazar-e-Sharif. (For detailed frequency information, see page 52 in the South & West Asia pdf. For more information on the programs and services, you can also visit the web pages www.VOANews.com/Dari and www.VOANews.com/Pashto.)
Tune in and give Radio Ashna a try. We hope you’ll feel the same way about Ashna as Afghan writer Hahatullah Rafiqi does: “Once you listen to it, you cannot leave it.”