Radio first brought Nolla Azar fame. Then it brought her Jesus.
Today she uses it to bring others to him, via a new ministry.
“I know how to get women’s attention,” said the host of Listening to You, an afternoon talk show on Lebanon’s BeLight FM. “I use the same methods here, but for a higher purpose.”
Once working with Dubai-based MBC, one of the largest media companies in the Middle East, Azar returned to Lebanon in 2009 after desiring the warmth of home. Frustrated by the lack of opportunities she found in the local industry, she turned instead to social media and became a celebrated influencer.
Doing a podcast for women, she accumulated 275,000 followers on TikTok, boasting 17 million views. Still, she felt empty, complaining often to her mother about dissatisfaction with her finances, career, and love life.
In 2021, COVID-19 isolation sparked a spiritual search. Maronite Catholic by background, she read books about God, watched religious TV, stumbled upon a new and unheralded radio station, and gave her life to Christ.
Today, she is one of its top-rated hosts.
“When I first came [to BeLight], it was hard to balance between entertaining people and being ‘Christian,’” said Azar. “But it is God who brought me here, and when lifting people’s spirits, I redirect them to Jesus.”
She has contributed to the increasing professionalism among a motley crew that is quickly growing in popularity. BeLight began on Thanksgiving Day 2020 as an initiative of Arabs determined to launch a Protestant-led FM station in Lebanon. Many had backgrounds in TV production, but none in radio.
It began with 90-percent worship music, culled from English-language favorites and the mostly Egyptian-composed praise songs popular in Arab evangelical churches. Over time, BeLight increased its spoken content to almost 50 percent, at first through sermon recordings of Lebanese pastors and eventually developing its own unique programming.
And it has won itself an audience. According to an Ipsos advertising survey from last April, it now reaches 300,000 Lebanese, reeling from economic crisis and political turmoil. Its 7.5 percent market share trails the top-ranked pop music stations (which average 11 percent each), but puts it ahead of longstanding Catholic and Muslim offerings.
“We are trying our best,” said Mireille Eid, host of BeLight’s first talk show, Thought for Tomorrow, broadcasting five mornings per week. “People are happy listening to a message of hope, not just all bad news.”
She has grown with the job. With a sonorous voice but no radio training, Eid’s background was in theater and interior design. But her infectious style and transparent nature invites many to call in—requesting prayer or sharing their stories.
Lebanon boasts 18 official religious sects, with BeLight listeners hailing from many. “Good morning, you beautiful hearts who live in the hope that everything will be more beautiful,” said Sarah, from the Lebanese…
This article was originally published at Christianity Today, on February 8, 2023. Please click here to read the full text.