The stunning voice on Cairo’s live broadcast is that of Erin Fleming, the host of After Dark, the popular evening program on Cairo’s number one hit music station Nile FM. She has been a buddy for three years now to an audience that wants unwind and chill in their cars or just relax in the tub listening to her groovy tracks. Erin also works as a Sales Manager for Nile Radio Productions as well as in the station’s programming.
Erin studied broadcasting and psychology “it’s important to study psychology in order to communicate with the audience, it’s extremely important”, she says. She has been working for seventeen years in radio, running classic rock radio stations in the U.S. “I had four classic rock radio stations playing classic rock music like that of The Beatles, The Doors and that’s what I did before coming to Egypt”, she tells.
After Dark doesn’t have a script and most of it is inspired from real life “most of my friends here are Egyptians. I don’t want to be on air with a topic that doesn’t provoke thought, I don’t want to ask what color do you prefer blue or red? That’s not a thing I want to do. There was this topic ‘Emotional Infidelity vs. Physical Infidelity’ which grabbed a lot of interest from the audience. We also talk a lot about issues like for instance when the family gets involved in the relationship. I get a lot of e-mails for issues like these”, Erin explains.
When American media is known for being the strongest and integrated media of all, Erin claims that there is no big difference between American radio and Nile Fm, “the difference is when things get done it takes time but the production is actually the same. In America we have specialized radio stations. In America you have the option that if you don’t like the presenter you can switch to another but here you get SMSs like ‘I hate you’ and stuff like that, I don’t want to hear this I want an SMS that would tell me ‘thank you for your show’ or a song request whatever but here you get a lot of that but I got used to it. In every country and in every field there’s that someone who thinks that he could do your job better than you. People are very harsh and very critical here. In the States you have the option of tuning out”, she adds.
One of the benefits of working in radio is being able to get to meet your favorite celebrities and meet up with them “We had Jennifer Love Hewitt last month on Nile FM and she was very down to earth like you and I. We talked about her new book and her new break up she was very candid and I respect that of her. I don’t want to go through a celebrity and ask her about things that would leave a bad image of her, but she was so cool. I haven’t had the chance yet to meet a lot of rock stars as most of them are dead”, she laughs. I met Eminem in the U.S and he was so cool and amazing. He was a kid who was nothing and worked himself up to become the king of Hip Hop. I met Kid Rock, a bunch of football players, Metallica, Crazy Town and Brian Adams. But it’s sad when you meet people and you don’t like them anymore after knowing them in real life, Erin notes.
We can’t ignore the fact that Egypt is different from the Western culture when it comes to relationships and Erin knows that perfectly. I had Marwa Rakha on the show as a relationship expert and new writers in the scene like May Taher of ‘When the honeymoon is over’. I also liked ‘Cracking the Code of the Egyptian Relationshit’. I’m thinking of writing a book about relationships from the perspective of the outsider I think that would be nice. The things I went through as a foreigner, it’s nothing that I could deal with at home. Western men aren’t vulnerable when it comes to relationships when you’re out there and someone likes you he won’t be shy to tell you he will come up and say ‘hey how you doin’?” But men here are more insecure when it comes to relationships. Men and women both have insecurity issues. And it’s no one’s fault it’s the way they’re brought up. We were more independent at a younger age, we lived by ourselves and went through a lot and through our independent way we came to learn many things, but it’s different here and there is nothing wrong with that it’s just how the culture is”, she comments.
Erin has her very own outlook on Egyptian marriage routines “Egyptians live with their families till their late twenties because marriage is difficult here. That’s a lot for anyone the wedding expenses, how are people going to do that? The parents work for their children and that’s what I like about Egyptian families, abroad you have to save your own money. I won’t spend 50 grands on a wedding which is a one night event while I could spend 10 grands and have all the people I love around me and use the other 40 grands for a car. There are TV shows that talk about these issue like Bridezillas and when people spend all that amount of money on their wedding dress and get a divorce at the end it won’t be nice saying ‘oh that was a great Vera Wang dress which I wore for one night and got divorced after that!’. People get divorced and say ‘man I wish I didn’t spend so much money’. My sister spent a lot of money on her wedding and years later marriage didn’t work out”, she adds.
Growing up in a Mediterranean home, Erin knew well how some Egyptian women are brought up “I’m half Italian and I grew up in a Mediterranean home. I had a curfew of 10pm and if I showed up 5 minutes late I used to go through a lot of trouble, so I totally understand what a lot of women here are going through. Italians and Egyptians have a lot of similar concepts when it comes to traditions and culture”, she tells.
When Erin isn’t on air she just reads “I’m a nerd” she laughs. “I read five books a week. I read a lot of psychology books and about human behavior in general. I read also for new Egyptian writers and Egyptian poetry. I like to read Mitch Albom he’s a columnist in Detroit, I’m reading his book now ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ in which he talks about his mentor”, Erin tells.
Like myself, Erin is a huge fan of Sex and the City “I think I relate to Samantha, I don’t relate in her behavior but the way she thinks, what she thinks comes out of her mouth instantly and that’s why I like her character. I have one friend like Carrie and another one like Miranda and what makes the show successful is that each character relates to a real woman in real life.
Erin isn’t pro censorship at all, “they edit the kiss you never noticed that?” she thinks that people should monitor what their children watch and not the government. “People come up and say ‘oh, no! I didn’t know that little Johnny was watching’ ok why little Johnny is still up it’s 10pm? I feel bad for a lot of children because they’re forced to grow up around adult stuff. In the States you’re forced to know about a lot of adult things while you’re a child, you don’t have an option”.
When it comes to her own favorite music, she loves old R’n’B. “I love Stevie Wonder. I don’t like new R’n’B of people who sing annoying stuff like Keisha for example, a song called ‘you’re love is my drug’, what the hell is that? Old R’n’B used to sing about real touchable issues in the society, profound topics around us. When Tupac died that’s when hip-hop died. In his song‘From the cradle to the grave’ he talked about real life issues. I also like Eminem and Jay-z. I like Om Kalthoum she has an extremely powerful and beautiful voice. I like Cheb Khaled, he talks about his struggles. I like Cheb Mami and the hit song ‘Setta El sobh’ of Hussien El Gasmy”, she laughs,” I like old Amr Diab’s songs and I sometimes listen to Elissa”.
Known as the Queen of the Dark, Erin is a night person “that’s why I like Cairo, But I watch the news everyday while I eat my breakfast and check my e-mail. It’s important to stay on top of everything. It’s important to know what’s happening in the world”.