Radio giveaway in Afghanistan goes awry: "We were mobbed."

Posted: 27 Oct 2010   Print   Send a link
Global Post, 26 Oct 2010, Jean MacKenzie: "When officials from Radio Liberty invited me along for a press trip to Jalalabad to watch them distribute radios to the population, I jumped at the chance. ... I was desperate for a feel-good story: big-eyed children eagerly grasping their new, battery-free radios, promising to listen faithfully to Radio Liberty’s news and analysis programs. It did not work out quite that way. What was supposed to be a five-hour media junket turned into a 30-hour ordeal, where tedium alternated with nerve-jangling conflict and a fair bit of anger. Let me emphasize that this was through no fault of Radio Liberty. ... 'We hope these radios will help to counter propaganda from the Taliban and other extremists,' said Akbar Ayazi, Radio Liberty’s associate director for broadcasting. Quite possibly the radios will be used as most radios are: to listen to music. But given the Taliban’s restrictions on any form of entertainment, that might just be the most powerful counter-propaganda of all. ... We were mobbed. The police had to wade in, beating people with the butts of their rifles. They took the radios up onto the flat beds of their trucks and just threw them out into the crowd. The highest jumpers with the most lethal elbows got the goods." -- "Radio Liberty" is Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which has lately been abbreviating itself RFE rather than RFE/RL. Its service for Afghanistan is called Radio Azadi (competes with VOA's Radio Ashna), unless its for the part of Afghanistan near the Pakistan border, in which case it's called Radio Mashaal (competes with VOA's Deewa Radio). Maybe better for RFE to become a wholesaler, ensuring that low-cost radios with adequate frequency coverage get to the shops and tradesmen. See previous post about same subject.

NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan Public Affairs, 26 Oct 2010, Petty Officer Third Class Jared Walker, USN: "Afghan Air Force and NATO Air Training Command – Afghanistan Det. 3 members distributed 1,500 radios to two girls’ schools in Deh Dadi village near Mazar-e-Sharif Oct. 23."

Associated Press of Pakistan, 26 Oct 2010: "Afghan media delegation visited the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) on Tuesday and emphasized on fostering relations between the two countries with the help of media. ... [A person from Radio Liberty Afghanistan was among] the delegation which visited the news agency."