Inside the Syrian radio station that won’t stop recording

Sure, they're in the middle of a warzone, but they're not going to drop the mic

Photo credit: Ryan McGuire

It’s hard to know how to imagine life in Syria. One woman Marie Claire spoke to in Jordan (on the border of Syria) described it as a country ‘of extremes’. ‘It was the best country, and now it is the worst,’ she said – recalling a day when her husband had to cycle home from a friend’s house, while snipers were targetting anything that moved in the streets. ‘I couldn’t breathe until I knew he was safe,’ she explained. ‘That’s no way to live.’

But while she (and millions of others like her) have made the difficult decision to flee the country – leaving their careers, their belongings and their friends behind in search of safety – many Syrians have remained. In the majority of cases, that’s because they can’t afford to leave, or they’re too ill to make the journey. Others, like Aysha’s husband, work as doctors, and feel like they can’t leave those in need behind.

Either way, those people are in need of news – and entertainment. Which is why the team behind Radio Alwan refuse to stop recording. Even when their lives are at risk.

Operating in a similar level of secrecy as Kholoud Waleed, the female editor of Syria’s most underground newspaper, Radio Alwan’s male and female staff record from a hidden location in Istanbul – using technology to broadcast over the border. Some employees remain in Syria, but it’s dangerous work – recently, their offices in Aleppo were stormed by men in masks, and their equipment was stolen. Still, it’s events like this that just make the Alwan team even more determined to continue their work.

‘Syrians are just regular people, war or no war,’ explains scriptwriter Mahmoud in an interview with the BBC. ‘Even through these brutal days they love and they laugh and they live.’

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