Cultural Frequencies: Fostering Community and Promoting Diversity through Beur FM

Kate Reutershan


The radio station Beur FM serves as a site of exchange dedicated to the sounds and ideas of many different music communities centered in France. Beur FM is headquartered in Paris, France and broadcasts through 17 different frequencies to regions throughout the country. The stations website also provides listeners with broadcasts devoted specifically to Ra Moroccan, Oriental, Kabyle, and even Ramadan music, in addition to live daily programming. Committed to creating a radio station for la France daujourdhui (the France of today), Beur FM asserts a threefold goal in addressing its diverse audience: to inform, to entertain, and to cultivate community. In this way, the radio station acts as a means for generations young and old not only to learn about their multi-sited cultural heritage, but also to exchange ideas within the public sphere of contemporary French society.

In this paper, I will explore how Beur FM is significant to its listening community and to contemporary French society as a whole. With Frances complicated history of colonial relations, and the great influx of immigrants permanently settling within the country beginning in the 1970s, notions of citizenship and what it means to be French are no longer easily defined. I will examine how this radio station serves as an active agent in these social debates concerning policies of inclusion/exclusion, and in the negotiation of identity among immigrant and other diverse communities in France. By engaging in discussion with listeners through the open forums available on the website, I will investigate their perceptions of the stations role in society and the meanings they derive from its self-declared position as the radio of the new generation. I will also compare how Beur FMs current commercial image and success relates to that of its predecessor, Radio Beur (a community station that was established in the early 1980s). Drawing on this comparative analysis, and combining it with current scholarship and listener input, I will show that Beur FM provides a unique space for forms of cultural expression and exchange based in France, both on the air and on the web.

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