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Service Snapshot: Farshid Manafi

Pas Farda's Farshid Manafi at the helm.
Pas Farda's Farshid Manafi at the helm.
Farshid Manafi, host of Radio Farda's wildy popular talk show "Pas Farda," pushes back against Iranian censors with his critical eye and gimlet wit. Reactions from his listeners are a testimony to his success.

Farshid has been a well-known Iranian personality for some time. But five years ago, his lively programs on state television and radio were shut down by censors, and he was fired.
There is no substitute for truth, and we at "Pas Farda" try to provide that every day in a fun and unique way.

Banned from Iranian airwaves, Farshid joined RFE's Iranian service Radio Farda and created “Pas Farda” (Farsi for 'The Day After Tomorrow'), which has been on-air five nights a week for a little over a year. A satirical production skewering both political and social mores inside Iran, “Pas Farda” provides a breath of fresh air in a media climate devoid of critical voices.

For Manafi, no subject is off the table. Segments of the show poke fun at the regime, and the religious fundamentalism that permeates public life in Iran. A popular recurring character is a mullah who gives decidely tongue-in-cheek guidance on such issues as how to avoid immodestly-dressed women, as well as how to live a long, fulfilling life according to the leaders in the government.

The show continues to be a hit. Tens of thousands of Facebook fans and hundreds of daily comments and calls are a clear sign that "Pas Farda" has hit a nerve.

We sat down with Farshid for a quick chat about his program. Also, check out the brief video clip showing Farshid in action. Farsi speakers can follow Farshid on Facebook or on Radio Farda's site.

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How do you choose content for the show?

: We just take a look at what's going on in Iran and choose our topics accordingly. The Iranian government and authorities never fail to provide us with fodder for the show, so we never run out of things to talk about. This week we will be focusing on corruption and the Revolutionary Guard’s propaganda efforts.

How do you know your show is making an impact?

FM: Due to censorship and political repression in Iran it is very difficult to measure the exact reach of our program. But we have strong indicators that “Pas Farda” is making quite an impact. Our show's Facebook page has about 35,000 fans, and we often receive hundreds of comments when we're live on the air. And despite the censorship, Radio Farda's website receives millions of visitors each month, many of them through proxy servers. People send us emails, SMS and telephone messages, and they tell us that they love the show because it is one of the only sources that provides real commentary about what is happening in Iran.

How did you become the host of Pas Farda?

FM: I have been working in radio since I was 18 years old. I really love my job and want to make a difference for the Iranian people. Five years ago I had one of the most popular programs on Iranian state television and radio. Because of the show’s honesty and content the government showed up one day and shut down production. Now I am glad to have the opportunity here at Radio Farda to talk to the Iranian people freely and without any censorship. There is no substitute for truth, and we at "Pas Farda" try to provide that every day in a fun and unique way.

“Pas Farda” airs on RFE/RL from 9:00 to 10:00pm Tehran time, Saturday through Wednesday.