KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A small radio station in the Pech River Valley is bringing an important service to the residents of the Manogai District: to inform people and counter Taliban propaganda.
Based at Camp Blessing in the Pech River Valley, the “Voice of the Pech” is an Afghan-operated radio station employing local reporters and radio personalities to broadcast news and popular music to the people living here.
“The radio is most important because everyone likes to learn and listen to good news and commercial programs. It’s important to be a good radio station,” said Ibrahim, the radio station manager. “When we go outside of the base, people are happy because we have a good station here with good songs, the national anthem and the best reports and messages.”
Ibrahim said one of his biggest challenges is convincing people the radio station is for and by the people and not a Coalition forces radio station.
“Some people think that it is the radio station of the Coalition forces because it’s inside the base. They think it ought to be moved to the district center,” he said. “I tell them it’s not the radio station of the base or U.S. I tell them we work at the radio station and we make the reports and the messages. We want to tell (the people) the stories about the very important people in this area.”
The programming selection includes local reports from the staff, guest interviews, and Eastern Zone news from Task Force Mountain Warrior about the weather and activities in Kunar, Nangarhar, Nuristan and Laghman provinces.
“We do our own news, but we also get Eastern Zone news and translate to Pashto,” Ibrahim said. “These are the reports of local news and incidents, good news or bad news, and we tell it. We translate all the messages into Pashto, and if necessary Persian because it’s also the national language of Afghanistan.”
Ibrahim said he regularly interviews the district sub-governor, doctors, mullahs, scholars, students, poets and musicians to tell people what is happening in the Pech River Valley and Afghanistan.
According to U.S. Army Sgt. Daniel Wenger, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment information operations non-commissioned officer in charge, the radio station also helps counter Taliban radio stations.
“(The Voice of the Pech) has local reporters that get real-time reports about
Taliban who have launched attacks and killed or hurt Muslims or destroyed homes and they put that out there,” said Wenger, a Woodbridge, Va., native. “What their reporters have seen is the story they tell. People here know it’s true because they’re in the villages.”
Wenger also said the radio station is a critical information bridge because literacy among Afghans isn’t very high and they get their news from word of mouth.
“Task Force Lethal has passed out about 8,000 radios to people here (to help deliver the news),” he said. “The radio station has a call in program where they can give shout out to their friends, request music, get all the news from around the world, and it is all in Pashto.”
Overall, Wenger has received overwhelmingly positive response about the radio station from the Manogai residents.
“I’ve been on a couple of patrols and people tell me how much they love it,” said Wenger. “They talk about one of our deejays and talk about how much they love him, and how they love to hear themselves on the radio because it makes them feel important that they can speak to their family and friends.”
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