People celebrated World Radio Day, which falls on February 13 every year, and coincides with the launch of the first broadcast of the UN’s Radio in 1946.
When Saudi Radio launched its official broadcast on October 1, 1949, it was able to play a substantial role spreading cultural awareness and information to the public, as well as being an important medium to deliver news.
And through radio, Saudi women were able to get involved in the broadcasting industry and get into presenting.
Therefore, many people still remember the voices of the very first female broadcasters and announcers who had a large listening audience at the time.
Let’s take a look back at the Saudi radio presenters who marked Saudi women’s role in media, and paved the way for generations.
The first Saudi female voice to brace the airwaves in the early 1960s was Najdiyah al-Hejailan who was the sister of Saudi’s ex-minister of information and broadcasting, Jamil al-Hejailan.
She was encouraged and trained by her husband, Abbas Ghazzawi, who worked as the general director of radio and television.
Even though she did not study media, she took media courses at the BBC and in Italian television and took the up the task of editing foreign programs.
Najdiyah worked in radio for four years, where she presented the program ‘Happy House’ and ‘Good Morning’.
Fatina Shaker began working in radio at an early age, around the same time as al-Hejailan.
She was the first Saudi woman to work in the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs after receiving her bachelor's degree from Cairo in 1962.
Shaker continued her education, and received her doctorate degree in Political Sociology from the US in 1972.
Shaker is considered one of the founders of the popular Sayidaty magazine, and the magazine’s first editor-in-chief in 1980.
Asma Zazue, popularly known as ‘Mama Asma’, was the first Saudi woman to present a children's programs on the radio, where she began work in radio broadcasting in 1962 with her colleagues al-Hejailan and Shaker.
More than a decade before appearing on Saudi radio, Zazue was an announcer in the Arabic department of All India Radio in New Delhi.
Zazue presented children's programs until 1985, and was honored in 2006 at the ninth Gulf Radio and Television Festival in Bahrain.
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