Thursday, June 10, 2004


A Baghdad talk radio show introduces the people to the notion their expressed ideas can result in community changes.

Man...wait til they figure out this can work in government too!
From a modest family house somewhere in a western Baghdad suburb, Radio Dijla is fighting crime, saving lives, and treating the emotional traumas of lovesick teenagers.
Unthinkable during the Saddam era, this is Iraq's first talk radio station. It is only a small commercial channel that has sprung up in the maelstrom of the capital, but has already struck a chord with residents.

Up to 18,000 callers a day try to contact the station - it only answers a fraction of that number - and it has become Baghdad's favourite...

"We've quickly become a part of people's lives. It shows the desperate need of ordinary Iraqis to share and communicate their pains and joys.

"I thought I had a good idea, but I never expected this amount of interest so soon. We are already No 1 in Baghdad."

Dijla's devoted audience includes taxi drivers and shop workers as well as the professional classes. And their gripes will be familiar to any regular talkshow listener - the price of vegetables, Baghdad's traffic police and the fickleness of boys.

Last week the station received a call from a woman in distress. Her husband had been arrested by US soldiers several months ago and she was having trouble feeding her eight children. "Everyone at the station was moved by the call," Mr Rikabi says. "But the host failed to take her phone number.

"So we asked people to refrain from ringing in for five minutes so she could ring back with her number. She did. And then people began ringing in from across Baghdad with offers of food and money."

Two days ago the police chief in the Baya district of Baghdad rang the station and thanked it for helping to reduce the crime rate in the area. Local police have asked the station to extend its programming because it has given Iraqis something to do at night.

Radio Dijla has also become required listening for the country's new authorities.

"Our dysfunctional capital has finally found a voice, and we know that the new author ities are listening in paying attention to the views aired," says Majeed Saleem, one of the station's most popular presenters.

"It is one of the few forums where they can get feedback from the public."

The electricity ministry, for example, is able to gauge the supply across the city from the on-air complaints, three-quarters of which are about the lack of power. The local mobile phone company reduced its rates in response to irate calls to the station.

1 comment:

David said...

Thank you for your post...talking...voicing our opinions is the best source of freedom...thankyou for supporting that...