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Afghan announcers broadcast peace to listeners

by U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Cammie Quinn
Paktya Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs

1/9/2012 - PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- In an area with an illiteracy rate of approximately 70 percent, radio communication can be critical when sharing news and current events in Paktya province of Afghanistan.

The Paktya Provincial Reconstruction Team recently partnered with local radio announcers in the unveiling of "Caravan Radio," an Afghan-run radio station, focused on providing timely and accurate information to provincial residents.

Alwal Jan Taniwal, Latifullah, Wakil Ahmad Hamdar and Javed Dardman are Caravan Radio announcers at a station that has grown in popularity since first airing one month ago.

"Our most popular program is a call-in segment, with more than 500 callers each night," Alwal Jan said. "We receive endless song requests, poetry submissions and general questions from our listeners."

The announcers use a radio system provided by coalition forces, known as a "radio in a box" or RIAB. The RIAB is an organic, self-sustaining radio station complete with the necessary components to transmit voice and music at 300 watts.

"The coverage of the station is dependent on the terrain of the area," said 1st Lt. Eric Ozburn, the Paktya PRT information operations officer. "Despite the rugged mountains prevalent in Paktya, the (announcers) voices can be heard in a 50-kilometer radius."

"In the coming months, a new tower is scheduled to be erected, expanding Caravan Radio's reach even farther," Ozburn said.

During Taliban rule, music was restricted from radio stations. Now, playing music for Afghans gives a sentimental joy for one announcer, as he recalls the first time he and his brother heard music playing from a radio.

"It was exciting," Latifullah said. "My brother and I were surprised, happy and laughing. Since that day, we no longer are in fear of listening to the radio. The Taliban can no longer keep music from us."

The announcers said their goal is to maintain a positive message of peace for their audience, in order to counter the negative, threatening words the Taliban frequently release.

"Our messages focus on peace and reconstruction," Latif said. "Through our radio station, Afghans learn peace is attainable through cooperation and support of the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan."



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