Saturday, July 08, 2006

In all frankness

This is the title of a live morning talk show on Radio Fann. Radio Fann has wide listenership outside Amman because it is the only FM station that broadcasts outside the greater Amman area. Bisaraha ma’a il Wakeel has become a staple for many Jordanians during the morning commute to work. It features a gregarious host, Mohammad al Wakeel, who enjoys loud belly laughs, and using an especially heavy Jordanian accent. In fact, the laughs seem designed to lighten up the Jordanians' legendary scowls.

While the show features the usual mix of music (often with Wakeel annoyingly talking over it), news, press headlines and wise cracks, the most intriguing aspect of the show is the call ins. People are invited to call in and air their complaints, in a format similar to the old radio Jordan show “il beth il mubashir (on the air)”. These can include complaints about stray dogs, the water being cut off, busses not adhering to their prescribed routes or people in need of help for costly operations or medical care. After hearing people’s problems, often after asking what the person has done to remedy the issue, al Wakeel calls the government person in charge and tells him about the problem. The typical conversation with the official starts with the usual pleasantries. After that, Wakeel either tells him the problem or plays the taped call back to the official. The official either knows about the problem and explains its details, asks for time to ask about the problem or asks the person with the problem to visit his office. Sometimes Wakeel bluntly interrogates the official about specific details, which is the trademark of the show (that is why they call it bisaraha; in all frankness).

Sometimes officials try to evade his calls. This is a bad mistake, as such behaviors elicits al Wakeel’s scorn, and is worse PR than actually facing the issue.

Many times, the problem is followed up a few days later on the air. In humanitarian cases, many people volunteer to donate the costs of expensive operations or wheel chairs. The other day Al Wakeel mentioned that the rate of success in solving issues through the show is 70%.

If democracy is the ability to hold officials accountable and make government responsive to the needs of the citizens, I would say that such programs are good indications that Jordan is on the right track. It is unfortunate that many people find that the only way to solve their problems with unresponsive officials is by embarrassing them on the air, but it is an avenue that is useful and makes officials feel that some pressure to solve problems before they are aired for the entire country to hear.

Bravo ya Mohammad al Wakeel (please stop talking over the music).



At 7:37 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I remembered the guy. Once he had a TV show, I think it was eith Hot or Direct Line. The guy is brutal which what beurcratic officials need to move their butts on their warm chairs and do some work.

At 10:10 AM, Blogger salam said...

Great show..

At 4:04 PM, Blogger Pink Liberty said...

I saw a Facebook post of his shared by a friend, it was visual illusion so I posted it on a kids website, so thanks for giving an introduction to him


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