Four entries submitted by BBG networks earned the distinction as finalists in the 2016 New York Festivals World’s Best Radio Program awards.
The awards were announced last week at a gala in New York.
Middle East Broadcasting Networks
MBN’s Radio Sawa was a two-time finalist. Its entry, “Muslim-Americans and the Fight Against ISIS,” was a finalist in the category of Best Coverage of an Ongoing News Story. Radio Sawa went to the streets of Washington to talk to Muslim-Americans about their experiences in the United States and gathered opinions on the newly announced international coalition to fight ISIL. Many Muslim-Americans were reluctant to speak on-air, but those who did had a mixed reaction to how they felt they have been treated recently in America. The report is a thought-provoking piece that shows how Muslim-Americans are dealing with the fight against ISIL.
Radio Sawa’s entry “Free Zone-Arab Refugee Crisis” was a finalist in the category of Best Current Affairs Documentary. To mark 2015 World Refugee Day, Free Zoneexamined four refugee crises that are impacting the Arab world: Syrian, Palestinian, Yemeni and Iraqi. The program interviewed representatives from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), along with refugees who are struggling every day to survive. Listeners heard first-hand about the unbelievable living conditions, and the refugees’ pleas for help. The powerful program brought to light an overwhelming tragedy striking the region.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
A program by RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz service, “13-Year-Old Aichurok Supports Her Whole Family,” was a finalist in the Social Issues category. It’s a story about 13-year-old Aichurek Sulaimanova, the sole breadwinner for her family in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She has collected plastic bags to recycle at a local market in Bishkek after school every day for the last two and half years, in order to buy food and medicine for her disabled mother and younger brother.
The story sparked huge attention on the Internet. Within 24 hours after it was published online, the Kyrgyz service received hundreds of phone calls and messages from people offering to help. During a follow-up visit to the girl’s home by service journalists, they found that more than 100 people had come to offer all kinds of aid. A local NGO paid the rent of their one- bedroom apartment for one year, and Aichurek is living there now with her brother and mother, who said people are calling from the U.S., Switzerland and Africa asking to send them money. The story also was versioned by Current Time Asia.
A video story on Aichurek versioned for social networks went viral on Facebook, reaching nearly 5.4 million people. Also, the story caught the attention of famed Russian ORT Television network host Alexander Gordon, who invited the family and the Kyrgyz service journalist who did the story, Sabyr Abdymomunov, to Moscow to be featured on his talk show “Muzhskoe/Zhenskoye” (Men/Women).
Radio Free Asia
RFA’s series, “Breaking Free – Stories of Escape From Traffickers,” placed as a finalist in the category of Best Online News. The series documents cases where people escape from labor trafficking and highlights possible solutions. Led by their own will to break free and with the support of local NGOs, trafficking victims speak about their experiences. The International Labor Organization estimates that more than 20 million people work in slavery worldwide. Episodes in the series included:
“Vietnam: Cost of Living” (March 8, 2016)
“Sold to China” (Jan. 22, 2016)
“Fishing Trap” (Oct. 15, 2015)
The series took RFA’s reporters to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. Videos, animations and an E-book are available in Burmese, English, Khmer, Lao and Vietnamese.