Monday, February 11, 2008

Radio Station Opens in Wehida

Maj. Nathan Haas, from The Dales, Ore., a 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team staff officer, poses for a picture with Ahmed Sabir at a new radio station Feb. 7 in Wehida, Iraq. (Photo/Maj. Nathan Haas, 3rd HBCT, 3rd Inf. Div.)

Story by Sgt. Natalie Rostek

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – Soldiers and leaders of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team attended the opening ceremony of a radio station in Wehida, Iraq, Feb. 7.

Maj. Nathan Haas, from The Dales, Ore., 3rd HBCT information operations officer, said the idea for the station came from 3rd HBCT Commander, Col. Wayne W. Grigsby, Jr., from Prince George’s County, Md., last December.

Haas contacted Ahmed Sabir, station manager for Peace 106, a radio station out of FOB Rustamiyah, near Baghdad, to put the project in motion.

Haas said Sabir was the perfect candidate for the job. Sabir has trained Iraqis in radio station operations, speaks English fluently and has four years experience working for Peace 106. Sabir hired a local contractor, Matham, as the new station operator.

“We were looking for a way to get accurate information out quickly,” Haas said. “It was difficult with newspapers being distributed once a week and the low literacy rates; it’s about 60 percent. So we couldn’t reach the whole audience very well with written media.”

Haas said that while television is a satisfactory form of media, it only covers events. At events, there is little interaction with the audience and key leaders in the area.

“Now we can put local leaders on the radio and people can call in and talk to them,” Haas said.

The Wehida station is modeled after Peace 106, Haas said. However, there is one important difference that benefits the community.

“Their station is out of (Rustamiyah), on a FOB, where ours is in an Iraqi government building,” he explained. “This makes it more accessible for Iraqis.”

Coalition forces contributed approximately $32,000 to purchase equipment for the station.

The 3rd HBCT, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Benning, Ga., has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March 2007.

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