The first television interview I did was in 2004 by TV Orient, a cable programming channel that catered to the local Arab and Chaldean community. This was during the release of my first book, The Feminine Art. Later that year TV Orient named my book one of 2004’s greatest accomplishments by a Chaldean American. So understandably, I’ve always had a fondness for this television station.
TV Orient started in 1986 when a reputable business man in the community, Norman Kiminaia, found a need and helped fulfill it. This was the first and only daily TV station in the country that catered to the Arab and Chaldean community. In 1999, Kiminaia left TV Orient to venture into other businesses. Last year, with the growing Arab and Chaldean community in Metro Detroit, he felt that it’s time to bring TV Orient back to life.
According to the U.S. census, there are about a quarter million Michiganders with roots in the Middle East. The city of Dearborn has the largest concentration of Arabs outside the Middle East and Sterling Heights is nicknamed “Little Iraq.”
“There are already hundreds of satellite television channels that cater to non-English speaking Arabs and Chaldeans,” said Kiminaia. “What’s needed is a local cable channel that caters to the new generation as well as the general American public who are interested to learn more about the Arab and Chaldean culture.”
His station currently airs on Comcast’s channel 90 seven days a week, from 10pm-midnight. His goal is to slowly increase it one hour at a time, to where it’ll ultimately be from 7pm-midnight. Channel 90 broadcasts to one million homes in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne and Washtenaw counties.
“Even if we don’t have a million viewers, we go into a million homes,” he said.
Recently some colleagues and I were interviewed on TV Orient about an upcoming cultural event at Wayne State University. The segment aired last week and will air again tonight at 10pm. As my colleagues and I discussed our artistic and humanitarian work, I felt much pride to see our community moving into a powerful place of creativity where we are able to have an English speaking voice in the media – not have others define us.