Listen Up! We need diverse voices on UAE radio right now

Listen Up! We need diverse voices on UAE radio right now

I’ve fallen out of love with mainstream radio in the UAE so I usually stream an Apple Music playlist while driving. Sometimes I listen in to check out what’s new but I’m quickly reminded why I prefer streaming and this morning was no different. 

It’s Doja Cat…

I tuned in just in time to hear the radio personalities discussing Do-Jo Cat – nope, that’s not a typo. That’s exactly how her name was pronounced. The conversation, which was about artist collaborations, was also a build up to her latest song, which was announced as “Like That” by Do-Jo Cat featuring Gucci Mane. They must’ve said her name wrong at least four times in the space of 60 seconds but sadly this was on brand. I was reminded of a time earlier this year when a host referenced MIT, one of the US’ most prestigious universities, as Mit University. It’s all very disappointing. 

I lamented my frustration in a tweet, noting that we need American representation on UAE radio to pronounce our artists’ names correctly and convey proper cultural context. 

In no time, others weighed in about how UAE radio lacks diversity in general. The estimated population here is 9.89 million with expatriates making up 88.52% while Emiratis make up the remaining 11.48%. The expat community is comprised of residents from across the globe and on air radio talent should be a reflection the population. 

Why does it matter? 

Data from Nielsen’s UAE Radio Audience Measurement in 2019 showed that radio listening remains high across the country with 7.88 million listeners each week. According to the report on average Indian expats spend eight hours and 59 minutes per week listening to the radio while East Asians clock seven hours and 56 minutes each week with westerners coming in at seven hours and 28 minutes per week. Surely, we deserve balanced, culturally adept professionals hosting shows that we spend that much time listening to. 

Where do we go from here?

tam on the radio pearl fm

I’ve had the pleasure of appearing on popular radio shows in the UAE as a guest and I believe the way forward is more of that, please. Text, tweet and tag radio stations in content created by diverse voices that you think would make for good airplay. Let’s simply support each other into these roles. 

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