On July 3, a new venue opened its doors to the public in the Beirut neighborhood of Mar Mikhael. It’s called Radio Beirut, and serves as a base for live music performances, exhibitions, and workshops, as well as a casual hangout and bar. It’s a unique concept with infinite possibilities, a tried and true all-around cultural hub.

According to project manager Menna Maassarani, Radio Beirut is the brainchild of Jihad Samhat, a Lebanese-American from the south of Lebanon, who became increasingly dissatisfied with the state of mainstream radio in the country and decided to take action. Thus, Radio Beirut was born. As Maassarani put it: “Radio Beirut is a three-pillar project: a venue, a radio station, and a website. It aims to serve as a platform for alternative music artists in Lebanon, the region, and also worldwide to some extent.”

Radio Beirut is the only nightlife venue that broadcasts its music live onto its own online radio station. It may sound like a counterproductive selling point, but you don’t even need to be at Radio Beirut to enjoy its vibe. In addition to live DJ sets and performances, the station also broadcasts a selection of fine local music. According to Maassarani, the station is still currently in the test phase, but should be officially launched in two months time.

Radio Beirut is also putting together a social media website, which aspires to be a place for artists to communicate, interact, and network. Users can create profiles, either as artists or just as listeners, and upload their own music, photos, and videos, and ultimately promote themselves and their upcoming events and releases. This way, the whole alternative scene can be active online in one space all on its own, as opposed to being scattered throughout MySpace, Facebook, and Soundcloud social networks. However, members of the site must abide by certain guidelines, as it will be moderated by a code of ethics prohibiting hateful or abusive comments and attacks on political or religious beliefs. Radio Beirut supports freedom of expression and does not aim to censor, but merely seeks to ensure civility and mutual respect between individuals, something Lebanon hasn’t been able to grasp since the dawn of time.

It is worth mentioning that Radio Beirut is not the first to take such initiatives in Lebanon or the Middle East for that matter. The first official online radio station in Lebanon was Vibe Lebanon, established in 1998 by local electronic music DJ and producer Ceasar K, who actually pitched in to help establish Radio Beirut’s online station. In addition to that, multiple online radio stations playing authentic Arabic music have been set up, most notably the Jordanian Radio Arddi, which is well worth a listen.

Want to know more? Check out Radio Beirut online.

Tune in, log on, Radio Beirut
 

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