Wednesday, January 28, 2004

It transmits on 107,7 FM in Baghdad, which really is at the end of the frequency range of most radios, some don’t even go that far. The station-breaks on it have people sounding like the Simpsons saying things like “I haven’t had so much fun since Afghanistan” – this is such bad taste, it’s hilarious. The DJ’s call each other Sergeant So-and-so, which freaks you out the first time you hear it, I thought I was listening to something I wasn’t supposed to.
But to give the people there credit, the music is much better than the seriously annoying pop stuff on SAWA. SAWA Iraq is different than SAWA in the rest of the arab world, yes we are special. In case you are wondering SAWA is the new American propaganda tool instead of [Voice of America]. They lured our young with music and then they started messing with their brains using Sawa. It is very pop-y la-di-da-life-is-ok type of station, the messages must be subliminal or something [note to self:start recording the broadcasts and then listen to them backwards, specially that britney/madonna thing because they play it so often]. I think it will spawn a TV station as well, there are already people with SAWA TV tags running around.

I have been tuning to AFN IRAQ much more often than the radio we Iraqis are supposed to be listening to. They played Rage Against the Machine’s testify:
Im empty please fill me
Mister anchor assure me
That Baghdad is burning
Your voice it is so soothing
That cunning mantra of killing
I need you my witness
To dress this up so bloodless
To numb me and purge me now
Of thoughts of blaming you
It is a bit scary to have a military radio that plays this song here in baghdad

Anyway, it is very interesting radio. It is so very American it gets disorienting. And the little public announcement things in between songs are almost Monty Python-esque if they weren’t meant to be dead serious. Example:
[Sound of vehicle, a humvee I guess, in the background]
Female voice: I am really tired I haven’t slept well last night. Ooh look…can you hold on to my [some weapon or other] while I take a picture of this.
[Sound of snoring]
Female voice: Is sergeant (so-and-so) still sleeping? He had a tough night.

Darth Vader voice: Being on military convoy is a serious situation, always wear your seat belts, maintain speed and distance. And always stay alert.
There are little Arabic lessons thrown in here and there to “learn the local language and be part of the world around you”. Today’s words were Hello, Good morning and Good bye. I would have thought that after a year here we would have moved to a bit more complex vocabulary.

And there are also reminders to military personnel to keep the classified information they have to themselves since “We *are* in a war here.” Sweet sounding DJ Courtney made sure we remember to remember by playing Nickelback’s “this is how you remind me”.

Now if there only was a way to convince them to stop playing all that Bruce Springsteen and AC/DC and play us some B.R.M.C. and Rapture.