Steve Ahern's report about The third International Radio Forum in ziba kenar

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The Third International Radio Forum was held in Iran on May 2010. Timed to coincide with the 11th International Radio Festival, it was located far from the urban sprawl of Tehran, in a green, leafy resort on the placid shores of the Caspian Sea.


After an evening outdoor launch in the balmy night air, the conference opened with presentations from Dr. Said Reza Ameli and Steve Ahern on the digital issues facing broadcasters. A keynote address from Australian radio documentary-maker Siobhan McHugh was given.

Dr. Ameli tied the technical elements of multi-media broadcasting together, pointing out that broadcasters must engage with new forms of transmission and receivers, or be left behind. His focus was on how new media can help the society achieve its aims.

“Virtual time and virtual networks” now replace the older linear forms of content delivery according to Dr. Ameli, and broadcasters must be aware of how listeners will use time shifting and individual program consumption patterns to consume content in future.

The digital production environment, non-linear editing and personalized reception were three elements identified by Dr. Ameli as key changes facing broadcasters today.

Steve Ahern reported on the latest developments for digital radio in Australia, explaining the importance not only of technology, but of the skillful handling of people and industry politics to achieving a successful move to this new form of distribution. The case study detailed why Australians choose DAB+ and explained the thought behind using a 128 Kb/sec bit stream for the new transmission technology. Both were good decisions according to Ahern. There are now 60 models of DAB+ radio for sale in Australia in over 600 stores.

Siobhan McHugh, well known for her radio history documentaries, chose to showcase her radio series on the Snowy Hydro scheme as an example of the conference theme “Radio: Medium of Hope and Awareness.” The migrant stories from the 1950s, told in McHugh’s documentary, are an example of how radio can create awareness of a changing culture. McHugh believes the medium of radio can be used to spread hope for social improvements through documentaries and features such as the ones she produces.

Media Corp Singapore manager, Veron Yeo, detailed the success of her stations in connecting with audiences through new media. Her colleague, Zakiah Halim, spoke about the success of various fundraising promotions at Media Corp, such as a hugely successful cookbook and a series of educational seminars for senior school students.

South Korean KBS producer, Lee Jinhee, told delegates that Korea is “one of the most wired countries in the world” and that most people “interact, rather than just listen”. Iranian journalist and academic Dr. Hamid Ziaei Parvari said there is nearly 13% internet penetration in Iran.

Iranian Dr. Ghotbeddin Sadeghi focused on Drama in his presentation, telling delegates that characterisation is the most important element in successful drama.

The characters must have the essential elements of “a place in society,” must emphasize cultural aspects and reveal their psychological motivations in any well-constructed drama. “Radio drama is not based on narrative alone, it is about creating characters in various situations” he said; to create great characters, writers must “refer to the hidden features and internal dimensions of the characters to create many layers.”

Similar messages were echoed by Radio New Zealand’s Paul Bushnell, presenting a paper by Adam Macaulay. He also added advice for radio drama producers, reminding them that an important part of their role is to develop the writer as well as the script. In his own paper the next day, he looked at practical examples of how Radio New Zealand had embraced the web, including the creation of a set of iconic radios representing aspects of “Kiwi culture.”

The ABU’s Vijay Sadhu showcased some award-winning entries from the ABU Prizes competition as examples of how radio is changing within time and its efforts to retain the interest and engage the imagination of listeners. Masoud Abedin-Nejad analyzed the features of tabloid journalism and offered advice on where populist entertaining journalism may or may not be appropriate in Iranian radio programming.

An engaging discussion over the role of music in Iranian schedules dominated the final session, with three well known Iranian musicians debating how much music should be played and where ethnic music should be featured in various program types. Dr. Shaahin Farhat made the point that language needs to be translated to be understood, but music can touch your soul no matter what language you speak. IRIB music specialist Houshang Javid talked about the different ethnic and geographic music of Iran and that it should be properly used in folk programs. Ali Azari Arghoon analyzed policies for using folk music in both community-based channels and national programming.

After the formalities of the conference were over, delegates were treated to a late- afternoon excursion exploring Guilan province. After passing paddy rice fields, our coaches lumbered up one of the foothills of the Alborz mountain range. From one point on, we were taken by cable cars further up the hillside, to an area which had spectacular views in the warm afternoon light of the green plains, and the pale blue arc of the Caspian Sea beyond.

Tea pickers were hard at work on the slopes of the nearby hills, cutting the leaves with long shears like hedge clippers, attached to bags into which the cuttings fell. These would be gathered later into piles, and then sun-dried before removal.

The finished product was sampled at several tea-houses around the hillside.

That night, on our return to Ziba Kenar, the closing ceremony was held. The main prizes were awarded along with several musical performances. Other prizes had been presented to local and international broadcasters during separate sessions in the conference, and the evening ended with an address by the President of the IRIB.

Our journey back to Tehran on the following day began after a visit to the Guilan Rural Heritage Museum. Set in a green park, it contained many examples of local houses constructed with traditional architecture.

These buildings had been dismantled at their original sites and re-built here to provide an insight into the culture of this northern province of Iran.


For all of the international speakers, meeting colleagues from around the world, renewing friendships with Iranian broadcasters and forging new ones was marked as the highlight of the conference.


About Us

The International Radio Forum is an opportunity for interchanging views and thoughts among Radio operators and authorities from different countries. It is an opportunity which can lead to the growth and prosperity of the views and thoughts in the unique field of Radio. The Radio of the Islamic Republic of Iran has held five rounds of the International Radio Forum, with the following objectives and missions:


  1. Maintaining and improving the position of Radio in the media sector
  2. Creating a consistent community of scholars for Radio's future development
  3. Raising the role of the Radio in the age of the Globalization
  4. Strengthening the Radio's scientific basis


  1. Identifying the potential capabilities of the Radio as a media
  2. Establishing the interaction among Radio scholars and other researchers
  3. Interchanging thoughts and scientific notions among the contributors
  4. Congratulating new plans and ideas in the field of the Radio
  5. Create the necessary motivation for the agents in the field of Radio programming
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