The Persian New Year – Nowruz – was March 20th and VOA Persian, as usual, went all out. Its eight hours of special Nowruz programming began at 5 PM Tehran time and took viewers to Stockholm for Chahar Shanbeh Souri, a festival of fire, and to New York for a performance by renowned musical guests at the service’s New York studio. It also had a holiday message from President Obama and an exclusive interview with Secretary of State John Kerry.
While Iranians around the world celebrate Chahar Shanbeh Souri, the Stockholm celebration has come to be especially famous. Saman Arbabi, of the Persian Service’s OnTen program co-hosted the event with Farshid Manafi of RFE-RL’s Radio Farda and the internationally famous Iranian singer Mahan Moin.
Coverage from New York included an in-studio performance by Iranian singer-songwriter Mohsen Namjoo, whose music is a blend of blues, rock, and Iranian folk music.
Members of the VOA Persian Staff also got in on the celebration, going head-to-head in a Persian quiz segment. The Persian staffers also showed off their own musical skills, producing and starring in their own original musical video.
At 7 PM Tehran time, the service aired President Obama’s special Nowruz holiday message for Iranian audiences. If the government of Iran meets its international obligations, the president said, “then there could be a new relationship between our two countries, and Iran could begin to return to its rightful place among the community of nations."
Later in the program, viewers saw an exclusive interview the Persian Service did with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who, in addition to discussing such issues as events in Ukraine and negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, offered Nowruz greetings and the hope that “we can resolve the differences between Iran and the United States and the international community.”
VOA is one of the most popular international broadcasters in Iran. Audiences can view VOA television programs on direct-to-home satellite, streaming sites, and a host of social media programs.