Murdjajo FM Hits Airwaves

View of the city of Oran from Murdjajo mountain
ORAN, Algeria — Murdjajo FM — named after the historical mountain surrounding Oran, Algeria’s second largest city after Algiers — began broadcasting online Aug. 9.

Although a January 2012 information bill waives restrictions on individuals and private companies investing in the audiovisual field, implementation laws have not yet been released. According to Nacer Mehal, Algerian minister of communication, they are expected within the next three months.

Murdjajo station founder Khaled Boudaoui decided nevertheless not to wait for the official authorization to launch his first Web radio station.

Sea and Music 

In his informal introductory address to the station’s e-audience, Boudaoui presented himself as a casual, sea-loving guy. He explained that he lives in city of Ain Turk near the sea and that the water is his refuge and guide in life. He also said that the sea has taught him the spirit of adventure, discovery, sharing and caring.

Before launching the station, Boudaoui, who has worked as a journalist and program manager for Wahrai Radio as well as producing a weekly radio program entitled “Classic-Raï,” reached out to citizens (through direct contact and Facebook) to find out what they, particularly youngsters, thought about the project to gather their input.

“The first impressions from the public were positive and really encouraging,” Boudaoui said. So he decided to launch the project. The next step, though, was to find the right people for the adventure. And that is exactly what they did.

Composed of five employees, Murdjajo FM, Boudaoui says, has the necessary “human potential.” In addition to Boudaoui, who is in charge of programming, there is a journalist, an assistant, a Web radio coordinator and a website designer.

“We plan to recruit more producers as we launch further programs,” said Boudaoui. “Thirty percent of our programming comprises local news, so we are training youngsters to produce news programs, collect and record ‘vox populi’ on different issues. We are looking for people who are able to innovate and propose interesting and attractive programs,” he said.

Economic model

The Murdjajo FM endeavor is based on a model that favors a partnership scheme with several communication agencies.

“Initially,” he said, “advertising on our site is free. Then we will see how we evolve, how the public reacts to our programs, and also what the real demand for publicity on Internet radio is.”

Boudaoui said that while station employees are not yet “experts” in managing a Web radio station flawlessly, they are dedicating massive energy to learning and hence improve the entire experience. As such, he adds, the station has already had two training courses with French and Moroccan companies so staff could learn about various multimedia techniques including production, voice-over recording and editing.

Music makes up the other 70 percent of the station’s total programming with a focus on local, national and international musical genres. Boudaoui also produces a music program called “Nostalgia,” which airs every Sunday at 10 p.m. local time and highlights national and international hits from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.

Other programs include “Labyrinth,” which deals with pertinent issues of everyday life in Algeria — violence in stadiums, traffic jams, sound and air pollution. During this program, presenter Farid Bouhitem talks directly to people in cafés and public places, giving them the opportunity to express their concerns freely. The station also intends to launch programs focusing on women’s issues, as well as youth and sports shows.

The road has been long for the station, considering that just a few years ago ADSL technology, for example, was nonexistent in the country. Today, Murdjadjo is accessible via the Internet and is waiting for 3G to be approved by the Conseil de l’autorité de régulation de la poste et des télécommunications, the Algerian Authority of Regulation for Posts and Telecoms.

French firm OVH, via its representative in Setif, hosts the Murdjadjo website, while servers located in Belgium handle the streaming of its programs.

“We thus are obliged to comply with the Belgian rules of broadcasting and copyrights,” said Boudaoui. The Société Belge des auteurs, compositeurs et editeurs (SABAM), the Belgian society of authors and publishers, looks after the questions of authors’, producers’, scenarists’ and publishers’ copyrights.

Persistence pays
One week after the launch of Murdjajo FM, Boudaoui affirmed that the station was running smoothly and working gradually toward conquering Internet listeners in Oran and elsewhere.
“We have already set up a connection that enables listeners to contact us via Skype and telephone, to submit their requests and comments,” said Boudaoui. “Ultimately, our future goals include creating a conventional FM radio station.”

The organization plans to submit the necessary applications to the Algerian authorities in due time, he explains. “Murdjajo FM seeks to reach additional cities in Western Algeria and, eventually, even extend its presence to other regions of the country and throughout Maghreb.”

Laid Zaghlami reports on the industry from Algiers, Algeria.

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