Calling it a "first-of-its-kind agreement," the Washington Post is reporting today (Dec. 7) that noncom Pacifica Radio is adding the Middle East-based news channel Al Jazeera English to its five outlets nationwide. Stations in New York, Houston and Berkeley, Calif., will begin to carry the audio portion of Al Jazeera's TV news broadcast this week; Los Angeles and Washington will do so next year. Pacifica is the first American radio broadcaster to air programming from AJE, the English-language offshoot of the Arabic-language Al Jazeera network. Read the Pacifica press release here.
Houston NBC affiliate KPRC/Local 2 shot a segment this morning at Pacifica's KPFT. Programming Director Ernesto Aguilar told Current that due to the station's history — bombed off the air by the Ku Klux Klan twice in 1970 — local law enforcement officials were notified of possible protests. There were none.
The Houston Chronicle also covered KPFT's latest programming addition. Duane Bradley, the station's general manager, defended AJE. "It is programming of a high quality that is underexposed in America," he said, "and it certainly falls within our mission to bring in sources of news from different locations to round out media offerings for our listeners, our members and the broader community."
NPR's media correspondent David Folkenflik did a segment on AJE in February 2009, "Al Jazeera English struggles for U.S. audience."