June 10 - Nari Radio makes its mark in one of Afghanistan's most troubled regions where conflicting views are aired on phone-ins. Paul Chapman reports.
Kunar province is one of Afghanistan's most troubled regions. It inhabitants are historically split along tribal and ethnic lines. It's also home to insurgent strongholds. Today a small radio station broadcasting from plywood hut in the relative safety of the U.S. Forward Operating Base Bostick may be making inroads. Nari Radio broadcasts a mix of music and unvetted politics to the far-flung communities. Its sole reporter is Ziauddin Burhani. SOUNDBITE: ZIAUDDIN BURHANI, NARI RADIO REPORTER, SAYING (Pashto): "We have a show about how we can bring peace in the community. They give us their opinions and we broadcast them." Nari Radio has one microphone, one phone line and no kill switch. Many of the callers to its phone-in show voice concerns about Taliban encroachment into remote valleys. Others complain about worsening security or the lack of promised new schools, clinics and roads. That's a challenge for Nari Radio phone-in show regular, U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Scott Green. SOUNDBITE: U.S. LIEUTENANT COLONEL SCOTT GREEN, 1-12 INFANTRY REGIMENT IN CHARGE OF NORTHERN KUNAR, SAYING (English): "It's probably the most nerve-wracking thing I do and I've done in 20 years, almost 20 years of being in the army, because the calls come in Pashto so I don't even get to listen to the caller's question and prepare, you know, prepare to respond." Station manager Gulam Rahim says even the Taliban are using the phone-in. SOUNDBITE: NARI RADIO STATION MANAGER AND SHOW HOST GULAM RAHIM SAYING (Pashto): "The Taliban are using this radio station to warn locals of what they're doing or what solutions they have, and what solutions the Afghan forces (ANSF) and coalition have" Nari Radio's unexpected popularity has also made it a target of insurgent attacks. Its U.S. military supporters say that's a sure sign the station is making its mark in a nation where radio still counts as new media. Paul Chapman, Reuters