In Cairo, underground stations broadcast back-to-back 6 minute educational radio programmes for commuters to listen to as they wait for their train.
We have covered some interesting broadcast innovations such as this Californian drought-themed radio station that encourages listeners to take short showers, and these sidewalk listening posts that broadcast album previews. Now, in Cairo’s undergrounds stations, Kemet Radio is broadcasting short, educational radio programmes for travellers to listen to while they wait at the platform.
Kemet is a hieroglyphic word meaning the black land, referring to the Nile soil. The service began to hit the airwaves three months ago. It’s mission statement according to Ahmad Meshal, the executive officer of the radio service, is to use the metro public address system to spread culture among the passengers, developing passengers’ awareness of the country’s history and traditions. Up to five million people use the Cairo metro every day, making it an ideal platform for spreading messages. Each broadcast is short, not exceeding six minutes – the usual interval between trains. Programming includes listings highlighting Egypt’s folk arts, cinema, cuisine, mini-dramas and economic development. Editorial policy excludes divisive issues, choosing only topics that will unite the country’s diverse population. The radio service runs for 18 hours starting from 7 in the morning. Since its launch in October, the broadcasts have been limited to stations, but there are plans to make transmissions available on trains too.
The Egyptian government has recently disclosed a plan to increase Cairo’s metro ticket price, revealing that the service incurs an annual loss of around EGP 350 million. The radio is educational but also offers the possibility of future revenue through advertising. Will underground services in other cities adopt the idea?