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East Meets West on Sesame Street

On July 18th, 88.9 WCVE Public Radio’s Vice-President Bill Miller, News Director Wayne Farrar and I hosted visitors from Pakistan and the US State Department. Freelance writer and Islamabad radio host Murtaza Solangi, radio executive Zulfiqar Ali Shah and State Department producer Peter Spatharis were here as part of the State Department’s Co-op program which brings international media personnel to the USA to visit media outlets and report on a variety of topics. 88.9 WCVE was chosen as one of the host stations partly because of our mission, “The Community Idea Stations use the Power of Media to Educate, Entertain and Inspire.”

Shah and SolangiBill, Wayne and I were interviewed in our large production studio about how 88.9 WCVE embodies the goals of our mission. Bill gave an overview of our role in the communities we serve and noted that individual members and local corporate supporters provide the largest portion of our funding. He discussed our mix of programming from NPR and other distributors and music programs created and produced by WCVE as well as our separate HD2 all-talk station.

Mr. Solangi and Mr. Shah were particularly interested in WCVE’s use of social media. Bill spoke on how our Facebook, Twitter and website pages, along with letters and telephone calls, allow interaction with our audience.

Wayne discussed the importance of providing international, national and local news as well as analyses and features that impart unbiased, fact-based reporting. He highlighted WCVE’s coverage of local Senate elections and noted that WCVE Capitol News reporter Craig Carper has had many reports picked up by NPR.

When I was asked to give an overview of my job, I mentioned Artsline and my book reviews and how I strive to bring cultural and ethnic diversity to both. I also discussed my creation of book giveaways at WCVE’s annual Explore the Outdoors family-friendly event and international events such as World Book Night.

Shah and SolangiBefore and after the interviews, we got to know one another a bit and laughed with Mr. Shah at his new nickname of  “Doctor Z” acquired from someone at another radio station in the USA because Mr. Shah is the CEO of Hot FM 105 in Karachi, part of the largest FM broadcast network of Pakistan. All of our visitors were gracious about my limited command of the Urdu greetings I had practiced for weeks. I probably set Pakistan –USA relations back many years with my flat, American-accented Urdu, but our visitors offered no criticism -- just warm smiles and perfect English.

After a brief tour of our radio facility, the trio had to return to Washington, D. C. Bill, Wayne and I enjoyed our time with these talented, affable and witty visitors and wish they could have stayed longer.

Our time with Mr. Solangi, Mr. Shah and Mr. Spatharis was an honor as well as a means to inform others about what 88.9 WCVE Public Radio does and a primer on public broadcasting in general. Equally important was the opportunity for professionals in the same field to work together, if only briefly, in an atmosphere of camaraderie, genuine curiosity and mutual respect for our different cultures.