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From AJR,   December/January 2011  issue

The Sound of Freedom   

Web exclusive
Video Feature: Freedom Radio airs everything from news and weather to Meat Loaf’s greatest hits for American troops in Iraq. Posted: Wed, Jan. 12 2011

By Jackie Spinner

Jackie Spinner (jackiespinner@mac.com) has reported on the Middle East since 2004. She was a staff writer for the Washington Post for 14 years and covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the paper. She is the author of “Tell Them I Didn’t Cry: A Young Journalist’s Story of Joy, Loss, and Survival in Iraq.” Spinner is now an assistant professor of journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She wrote about launching a student newspaper in Iraq in AJR’s Spring 2011 issue.


Freedom Radio, featured in the video below, is the sound of the Armed Forces Network in Iraq. Think of replacing Robin Williams in the 1987 classic "Good Morning, Vietnam" with the more mild-mannered Army Sgt. Danny Woodruff and you'll get the idea. Woodruff's "Nerdvana" show appeals to gamers and fans of '70s rocker Meat Loaf.

Freedom Radio is broadcast from studios in Baghdad to military installations around Iraq, giving the troops a mix of weather, news, command messages, entertainment and music. If you're in the neighborhood of Fallujah, check out 93.3 on the FM dial. Freedom is not streamed over the Internet because of licensing restrictions, but troops and Iraqi citizens who tune in get a mix of alternative, funk, rock, country and pop music.

The soldiers who broadcast Freedom Radio are part of the 209th Broadcast Operations Detachment from Rome, Georgia, and the 10th Public Affairs Operations Center from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Some are seasoned radio vets. Most have never been on the air before.

Freedom Radio debuted in 2003 with Paul McCartney's "Freedom." It is set to go off the air at the end of the year when U.S. troops are scheduled to leave Iraq.

Video by Jackie Spinner