Ameera Fouad tuned in
From a tiny apartment armed with three computers, thousands of listeners await to tune in to their unique young programmes online -- Radio Tram -- Alexandria's first independent online radio.
Dina Asser, a 25-year-old post-graduate English law student, along with Salah El-Haggag and Omar Hatem were among the first youths to launch the first online radio station in Alexandria. Radio Tram, or The Underground Voice of Alexandria, is a highly celebrated, independent online radio station founded in Alexandria in April 2011.
"Just after the 25 January Revolution, all of us needed something different," Asser said. "We needed to purify our ears and to listen to different music, different programmes and to presenters as young as us. Whenever we turn to any radio station, it doesn't represent us, the youth of this revolution."
Just like its title, one can find programmes like Cabinet, an art underground music database presented by Karim El-Sheikh offering a wide platform for unravelling young talents like composers, song writers, bloggers, photographers, cooks and every single talent one's mind could unleash.
Chaise Longue (long resting chair) and Kobayet Shay and (cup of tea) are two of the foremost programmes that have engrossed thousands of listeners, if not millions. Chaise Longue is a mock-up of its name. As suggested, it should provide a relaxing atmosphere to its listeners. However, it tackles important issues and societal problems we are living through like AIDS and how people view patients who have AIDS.
Kobayet Shay spotlights social magazine headlines and holds tightly to intriguing problems like marriage, relationships and unemployment and tries to discuss them thoroughly in the Alexandria community. The Chill Out Show, as it sounds like, is exactly what one feels after tuning in to its one-hour duration. Phobia, another programme, tackles suicidal issues and other psychological concerns that we all fear but are afraid to discuss.
"What makes the station distinctive and has gained popularity in no time is the unknown people we usually present to the microphone: craftsmen, secondary school students, Arabic professors, anonymous writers, the neighbourhood policeman... anyone could be here. We do not need famous celebrities to talk about famous things. We need ordinary people talking to ordinary people like you and I discussing ordinary problems. Streams of waves were never meant to be only for celebrities, and that's what we are trying to accomplish here. If we can make every human's voice heard, that's our real passion and dream," says Asser.
Talking about difficulties of a deteriorating economy, and in the midst of worldwide layoffs, Radio Tram founders are actually tightening their belts and going to the basics. "We don't have money and we don't have advertisements," said Asser. "We knocked on the doors of many factories and agencies but no one wants to put their money in a newly born revolutionary radio station.
"I heard Paul Creasman, associate professor of communications at Southern Wesleyan University in the US saying that the whole industry of broadcasting is at a crossroads. The audience is dwindling, and they have to figure out what to do. But the web is not the answer because older audiences don't use the Internet, and younger audiences will go to the web for content, but they'll probably be less likely to donate."
Nevertheless, for Radio Tram, the young ones and the revolutionary generation are who actually share, participate and support their baby.