Songs requests, live from Afghanistan

History of Radio is not only about jingles, entertaining (or not) morning show hosts, heavy rotations, merging and acquisitions ;-) it’s also (or mainly) linked with wars, dictators and all sorts of politics.

Those aspects are even actually so strong in some countries that it is even difficult there to explain that radio can ALSO be entertaining, play music, and sell advertising !

The History of Radio as political tool is never-ending, and lasts since day-1. I remember discussing in 1991 with the Prime Minister of recently independent Estonia, who explained to me that the Russian Army around Tallin was “illegally transmitting” :-) Russian Army pirate radio ! Can it get cooler than that ? :-) But sometimes, radio can even become a tool in the hands of those who want to do good, real good. This is what’s happening right now in Afghanistan, where the French Foreign Legion is led by a philosopher-colonel who is using Afghan intermediaries to try to reason with the insurgents… through FM radio !

Benoît Durieux, of Taskforce Dragon, is in charge of a French battle group in the Surobi area where ten French soldiers were killed last year. But instead of arresting villagers who have links to militants he wants to use them to help bring peace. “We are not trying to encourage them to break with the insurgents, but to persuade the insurgents to be more moderate” he says. To achieve this goal, he started the region’s first FM radio station, Radio Surobi !

“The only source of news for illiterate people in remote rural areas is word of mouth and Taliban rumours,” he said. Radio Surobi gives Afghan dignitaries a platform and, although the two Afghan DJs have only 18 records, requests flood in.

They even include demands for a woman singer — from the town where the French were ambushed…

Source : The Times

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