Radio Azadi

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Radio Azadi
Radio Azadi pashto logo
FormationJanuary 2002
PurposeBroadcast Media
Official language
Pashto, Dari
OwnerUnited States government
Parent organization
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Radio Azadi (formerly Radio Free Afghanistan) is the Afghan branch of the U.S. government's Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty's (RFE/RL) external broadcast services. It broadcasts 12 hours daily as part of a 24-hour stream of programming in conjunction with Voice of America (VOA). Radio Free Afghanistan first aired in Afghanistan from 1985 to 1993 and was re-launched in January 2002. Radio Azadi produces a variety of cultural, political, and informational programs that are transmitted to listeners via shortwave radio, satellite and AM and FM signals provided by the International Broadcasting Bureau. According to Radio Azadi, their mission is "to promote and sustain democratic values and institutions in Afghanistan by disseminating news, factual information and ideas".[1]


The U.S. Congress appropriated funding for broadcasting to Afghanistan in December 2001 as part of an effort to build a peaceful and democratic country, following the U.S.-led ouster of the Taliban regime. Radio Free Afghanistan has since built a substantial audience in Afghanistan, with surveys showing it as the most popular radio station in the country. Radio Azadi produces a variety of programming—from special programs for youth and women to political satires and music and literary programs.

Recently Radio Azadi conducted a joint seminar with Kabul University's School of Journalism on “Media and Democracy. Samiullah Mahdi is the bureau chief of Radio Azadi in Afghanistan since 2019."[2][3]

Media environment in Afghanistan[edit]

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty journalists in Afghanistan are under constant threat of intimidation from warlords, the Taliban, and other extremists. Attempts have also been made to tighten media control in the name of "respect for Islamic values." Concurrently, the number of private television and radio stations has grown in Afghanistan, leading to increased competition among media operating in the country.[4]


Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty first launched this service on October 1, 1985 during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (1979–1989). Its purpose was "to bring objective and uncensored news and information to the population and resistance forces of Soviet-occupied Afghanistan."[5] The service initially consisted of twice-weekly thirty-minute broadcasts in Dari and later expanded to hour-long broadcasts five days a week in Pashto and Dari. Radio Free Afghanistan was the first expansion of RFE/RL's broadcast area in thirty years.[6] Broadcasts stopped in 1993 for budgetary purposes and began again in 2001 following the U.S. Invasion of Afghanistan. Congress authorized the appropriation of eight million dollars in operating costs for FY 2002 and nine million dollars in capital costs that would fund the construction of a new shortwave transmitter in Kuwait.[7]


In May 2002, U.S. First Lady Laura Bush addressed the people of Afghanistan in a speech delivered from the Prague headquarters of RFE/RL.[8]

The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. recently launched a new exhibit named "Voices From Afghanistan" showcasing some of the thousands of handwritten scrolls and letters sent by listeners.[9][10][11][12][13]

Recent awards: David Burke Distinguished Journalism Award for “enormous courage in continuing to deliver the news to their fellow citizens”; two National Union of Journalists of Afghanistan awards for aiding the reconstruction of Afghan society through balanced and objective reporting and Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries award for excellent in reporting.[14]

In the run-up to Afghanistan's presidential elections in 2009, Radio Azadi hosted a historic presidential debate featuring President Hamid Karzai and two of his leading contenders. It was Afghanistan's first-ever debate to feature an incumbent president and was televised on Afghan national TV.[15]

In 2009, Congress appropriated six million dollars of additional funding to allow Radio Azadi to begin broadcasting to the Pashto-speaking border regions on the Afghanistan–Pakistan border.[16]

In 2009, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded to questions submitted by listeners in Afghanistan during an interview in Radio Azadi's studios in Prague.[17]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-23. Retrieved 2012-04-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Noticias De La Radio Website
  3. ^ Radio Azadi Fact Sheet.
  4. ^ Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, 2009: 149th/175. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-11-22. Retrieved 2010-04-21.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ James Clarity and Warren Weaver, "Briefing; Come In, Afghanistan," The New York Times. October 1, 1985
  6. ^ Sosin, Gene, Sparks of Liberty: An Insider's Memoir of Radio Liberty (University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999):196.
  7. ^ Senate Report 107-125- Authorization of Radio Free Afghanistan. The Library of Congress.14, December 2001
  8. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-11-22. Retrieved 2010-04-21.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ Library of Congress "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-04-25. Retrieved 2010-04-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ PBS
  11. ^ Washington Post
  12. ^ BBC
  13. ^ Voices From Afghanistan.
  14. ^ Broadcasting Board of Governors Website
  15. ^ Afghan Press Online "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-04-24. Retrieved 2010-04-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ Washington Watch
  17. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-11-22. Retrieved 2010-04-21.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)