|CASABLANCA, Morocco — Atlantic Radio FM
owned by the Eco-Medias group, seems to have found its niche by targeting the
upper crust of Morocco’s main cities.
As part of a group that owns two daily
newspapers the “l’Economiste” and “Assabah,” a weekly publication in Burkina
Faso, “l’Economiste du Faso,” a printing house, and the École supérieure de
journalisme et de communication journalism school, it seems only natural for
Atlantic Radio’s format to revolve around economy and business.
Based in Casablanca, the station,
which broadcasts to 21 locations on the same number of frequencies, is
upgrading its facilities and revamping its programming strategy.
As part of the overhaul, in November
2013 the group hired Sébastien Nègre — a veteran radio journalist with
experience in Tunisia, Mali, Canada and France — as the station’s
editor in chief and program director. Catering to Morocco’s 30- to 50-year-old
urban elite, the station today has approximately 200,000 listeners, located
primarily in the larger cities of Casablanca, Rabat, Meknès, Fès, Agadir, Tangier
With the goal of “energizing its
programming and increasing its audience,” the station has introduced innovative
programming such as “Les Experts” (The Experts), which offers advice to
listeners on various problems and conflicts in their lives.
Faïçal Tadlaoui in the main studio
presents “Les Experts.”
Photos by Jarfi
Atlantic Radio also covers important
cultural events, including the Salon du livre de Casablanca (Casablanca Book
Fair) and themes like sports economics during the Hassan II tennis tournament.
Other shows on tap include “Les Décodeurs,” which analyzes current affairs. In
the evening the station airs “Disque d’or,” a rock, blues and jazz program
followed by a show featuring Moroccan music.
According to Nègre, part of the
station’s positioning strategy is to allow listeners to participate in the
discussion, to give their point of view on current issues. This, he says,
results in increased audience interaction, loyalty and goes beyond just the
news. In addition to revisiting its program lineup, Atlantic Radio, which
attracts the likes of banks, restaurants and airlines as advertisers, is in the
process of modernizing its image and improving overall broadcast quality.
The Moroccan radio landscape is still
in its youth with private radio broadcasting only having been authorized in
2006 and there are still no of community radio stations. Like Atlantic Radio,
some 15 other private stations are working to captivate listeners in a land
where today less than 40 percent of the country’s population tunes in to radio.
Boasting 34 full-time employees of
whom 21are journalists, this bilingual — Arabic and French — station
uses the synergy between the different holdings within the Eco-Medias group to
put its best foot forward. It also partners with Radio France International and
Monte Carlo Doualiya for the exchange of international news.
Adil Rami in Control Room A during
the show “Nawadahlyk”
“We are considering producing a
combined Atlantic/Monte Carlo Doualiya broadcast,” hinted Nègre, aware of the
potential of the station, which can also be accessed worldwide via streaming.
Atlantic Radio has a main studio, a
smaller studio dedicated to the production and recording of short information
breaks, two recording booths and two control rooms.
studios are fitted with beyerdynamic headphones and Shure SM7mics.
The switching system allows the station to shift between studios and to manage
various broadcasting aspects such as the control of muted mics and audio signal
delivery all the way to satellite transmission.
The station also uses Netia
Radio-Assist 8.2 in its studios. “The most recent version of Radio-Assist 8.2
offered quite a bit of improvement as regards the management of our programs
and supplies fluid communication with the RCS Selector for music scheduling and
RamCom for ad management,” said Rachid Mounaouar, information technology
director for Eco-Médias.
Mounaouar, who has been with the group
since 2007, is streamlining the station’s technical facilities. Audio
processing is an important area for Atlantic Radio, he says, explaining that
they decided to upgrade to an Omnia.9 processor, leaving in place the previous
processor as a backup.
of the broadcasting sites is equipped with an Audemat Digiplexer 2/4 and we are
extending the audio processing to produce sound quality that meets our
audience’s expectations,” he said.
A small robot provides database
content backup. It also edits the log file after each operation and informs the
system administrator via SMSs or email in the case of a problem.
Atlantic Radio’s audio — from the
launch of the station in 2006 up to February 2010 — was stored on DVDs in
duplicate using the Netia Radio-Assist archiving solution.
More recent material, from February
2010 to present, is managed by the station’s LaCie 5big NAS Pro storage system,
a solution consisting of five hard drives of 2 TB each, forming a RAID5 system
with a spare disk in case one of the disks crashes. The station is planning to
transfer the existing DVDs to the 5big NAS Pro.
(L-R) Director Rachid El Wali,
artist Hicham El Wali and Chourouk
Gharib in the main studio presenting the
Public-service broadcaster Société
Nationale de Radio et Télévision hosts 17 of the 21 Atlantic Radio transmission
sites, while telecom operator Meditel manages the other four Ecreso
transmitters, which are used for the smaller remote cities, such as Taroudant
Atlantic Radio also broadcasts via the
Atlantic Bird 7 satellite. In case of a satellite problem, the station relies
on a solution that switches to ADSL with a tiny offset of 5–6 seconds. A
playlist packed with 18 hours of songs and jingles takes the relay if both the
satellite and ADSL fail.
“We constantly log our programs,” said
Mounaouar. “The Haute Autorité de la Communication et de l’Audiovisuel requires
us to have a minimum of 365 days of broadcasts available at all times.”
Atlantic Radio, part of one of
Morocco’s main media groups, appears well placed to conquer an affluent
audience and to position itself as the main radio station in the business and
Emmanuelle Pautler reports on the industry
for Radio World from Paris.