Sarwar and Islamuddin, the Bermel Radio station jockeys, located on Forward Operating Base Boris, Paktika province, broadcast religious services, play music, educational programs and spread news 13 hours a day to the local area.
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Sept. 2, 2008) — Clear voices stream over the radio. Prayers are read, music is played, announcements are broadcast and questions are answered.
This is the people’s radio, 92 FM.
The station was created to provide news, advice and education. Bermel radio broadcasts programs 13 hours a day to local villages throughout the district of Bermel in eastern Paktika province.
Located at Forward Operating Base Boris, the station provides more than 11 different types of programs that cover nearly every aspect of life for people in the local villages. Programs range from work and agriculture to health and education. There are also women-specific programs and religious-service programs.
Sarwar, a former agricultural professor at Khowst University, and Islamuddin, an adviser with more than 10 years of agricultural experience and training, run the station and host most of the broadcasts.
“We try to do as much as we can for the people here,” Sarwar said. “We even meet with them and teach them as much as we can about agriculture. It’s a big part of life for them and we want to make it better for them.”
Programs are broadcasted from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, except on Fridays when the two radio jockeys take a two-hour break for religious prayer and rest.
“Most of the area is uneducated,” said Islamuddin. “But if we can give them programs where they hear about history, and we can teach them what we can about how to better their lives, then we are doing great things.”
The local villagers respond well to the information provided by the station. In the five months they have been broadcasting, they have received more than 7,000 letters. Some praise the station, some offer suggestions, and others ask questions or make a request for another type of program or for other topics to be discussed. Overall, the feedback from the listeners is positive.
International Security Assistance Forces provide support for Bermel radio as well as nine other radio stations in Paktika province. Broadcast systems, supplies and support are only a few of the things provided to the radio station.
The station hopes to expand soon. The current system the station is running on is a 50-watt system that has only a 15,000- to 17,000-sq. km. broadcast range. ISAF has expressed plans to help the station upgrade to a newer 500-watt system that will have a broadcast range over 10 times what they have now, closer to a 170,000 sq. km. range.
For now, the radio station continues to provide the best it can in programs and radio services for the people of the Bermel District.