Interview with Arjen de Wolff, Director of Radio Zamaneh

Arjen de Wolff is the new director of Radio Zameneh, accepting the position from his predecessor Ruth Kronenburg. Radio Zamaneh sat down with its new director for a conversation. After expressing his appreciation for the tireless efforts of all the journalists who have been active in Zamaneh to this point, Arjen de Wolff emphasized that the biggest challenge facing Zamaneh in the coming months is to become economically self-sufficient, while also expanding its media production by exploiting the potential of citizen journalism and recruiting more citizen journalists.

Q – As a Dutch citizen, what was your motivation and interest to become the director of a Persian-language radio station?

A – I lived in the Caucasus and the Middle East over the past few years, working on issues related to democracy, good governance, human rights and press freedom. Working for Radio Zamaneh means I can combine my experience in these areas, my love for Iran and the wider region, and the pleasure of, after so many years, being back in my hometown of Amsterdam.

Q – How familiar are you with the Persian language and culture?

A – Iran boasts an incredibly rich historical and cultural heritage. It’s a proud country that has always played a dominant role on the world stage and has produced many important thinkers, artists, writers, scientists and musicians. I feel honoured, through my work at RZ, to be associated with Iran’s great past and a future brimming with potential.

Q – Radio Zamaneh receives funding from Dutch government. Does this mean Radio Zamaneh is expected to follow Dutch government’s foreign policies? To what degree do you see Radio Zamaneh as an independent media outlet?

A – First of all, it is fortunate that RZ receives its funding from a variety of sources, not just one. Secondly, there is an important difference between state media and public media. State media are funded by one particular government and find that their content, and their administration are under direct political control. In contrast, public media may be funded through the state but never by the state. And there are structures, agreements and administrative bodies in place, all open to public scrutiny, which ensure that the state can in no way influence how a public media outlet is managed or what it broadcasts or publishes. This very important distinction guarantees that a public media outlet works for the benefit of the public, not politicians. At Radio Zamaneh, we make all our decisions, editorial or otherwise, in complete freedom and without any government or other political interference. As such, RZ is one of the few Iranian media outlets world wide that can truly be called independent.

Q – Why was it necessary to change the director of Radio Zamaneh at this time?

A – RZ is now moving from its first, formative phase, in which my predecessors did a great job building this station, into a second phase where we will focus on sustainability and diversification of our activities.

Q – Will the change of director mean a change of direction for RZ ?

A – Certainly not. RZ, through the efforts of all those who worked here and still do, has become known for its quality, its in-depth approach and its independence. We have a reputation to defend by broadcasting the voices of those who are silenced and oppressed, and by sustaining the culture and philosophy of free-thinking Iranians. Of course, we will always have to be the most critical judges of our own work, listening to our audience and constantly renewing and improving ourselves.

Q – Do you have any message for the RZ audience?

A – The success of any modern media outlet relies on the involvement of its audience as contributors and citizen reporters. We aim to expand RZ as a truly open and inclusive multimedia platform. Please keep on following our work, but also become as active and involved with us as you can.