Lone Star Muslims: Transnational Lives and the South Asian Experience in Texas

By Ahmed Afzal | Go to book overview

6
“Pakistanis Have Always Been Radio People”
Transnational Media, Business Imperatives, and Homeland Politics

Radio is a ubiquitous presence in Pakistani public life in Houston. For the Pakistani community that is dispersed throughout the greater Houston metropolitan area, radio is a site of connectivity and convergence that transcends boundaries of class, gender, generation, and geography. In 2001, there were fifteen Pakistani radio programs on the air (see tables 6.1 – 6.3), a high number even for a city with one of the largest Pakistani populations in the United States. A decade later, in 2011, the number had increased to more than twenty programs. As an assemblage of “expertise, material circuitry, listening practices, and sound” (Bessire and Fisher 2012: 20), radio exceeds “any singular heuristic and entails putting multiple interpretative frameworks to work” (ibid.). Pakistani radio in Houston, for example, may be conceptualized as a community-based initiative, a business venture intertwined with the transnational Muslim heritage economy, a mass-mediated practice of diasporic nationhood and transnational religious belonging, or a practice of cultural citizenship.

The Houston-based Pakistani radio programs provide a number of benefits: news reports focusing on culture and politics in South Asia, the Muslim world, and beyond; culturally specific entertainment such as airplays of Indian and Pakistani songs and music; information about local South Asian businesses and services and a calendar of local South Asian cultural and religious events; and a venue for advertising South Asian ethnic businesses based in Houston.1 Mohammad Omar, whose narrative appears in the preceding chapter, routinely appeared on these radio programs as an invited panelist or as a promoter for an upcoming event of the Pakistani American Organization of Houston.

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