The takeover of VOA’s FM and medium wave (AM) transmitters by the Taliban, breaking a multiyear contract, is a blow to the large audience that turns to Radio Ashna for uncensored news and information. VOA broadcasts provided the people of Afghanistan uncensored perspectives and hope. They gave ordinary Afghans a voice through call-in programs and discussion shows about subjects censored by domestic media. On VOA programs, topics ranged from the increasing isolation of Afghanistan’s current government and the second-class status of women and girls as a result of the Taliban’s policies to the persistent economic failures that have diminished the quality of life in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. “Many programs were anchored by women,” said Acting VOA Director Yolanda López. “Removing VOA from the domestic airwaves will not silence us. It will only increase the importance of serving the captive audience inside Afghanistan.”
VOA broadcasts currently reach 7.3 million adults per week in Afghanistan, about one-third of all Afghan adults. Nearly half of that audience is through radio, so these recent actions by the Taliban make our job more difficult. Fortunately, VOA has other means of serving its large audience in Afghanistan, including a 24/7 TV satellite channel (Yahsat channel 469), short wave radio, a medium wave radio station in Tajikistan at 972 khz, and our websites (darivoa.com and pashtovoa.com) and social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. We are actively exploring additional ways to provide our content and fulfill our mission of serving our audience in Afghanistan.