Subscribe
Members of AFN-Iraq in the studio Thursday during a live daily radio show on Freedom Radio in Baghdad, Iraq. The radio industry in the United States has responded eagerly to the station's invitation to provide recorded greetings and other short items for the troops in Iraq. From left to right are Staff Sgt. Chris Eder, Pfc. Abbey Cayanan, and Tech. Sgt. Bob Herron, and, back to camera, Sgt. 1st Class Edgar Jansons.

Members of AFN-Iraq in the studio Thursday during a live daily radio show on Freedom Radio in Baghdad, Iraq. The radio industry in the United States has responded eagerly to the station's invitation to provide recorded greetings and other short items for the troops in Iraq. From left to right are Staff Sgt. Chris Eder, Pfc. Abbey Cayanan, and Tech. Sgt. Bob Herron, and, back to camera, Sgt. 1st Class Edgar Jansons. (Franklin Fisher / S&S)

BAGHDAD, Iraq — They’d soon be launching Freedom Radio for the troops in Iraq, and Air Force Master Sgt. Erik Brazones had a lot on his mind.

The station on Wednesday began daily radio shows live from Baghdad on 107.7 FM. But weeks earlier, Brazones, detachment chief for American Forces Network-Iraq, needed ideas.

“I was lying in bed at night ... thinking what we could do when we launch the station,” he said. “We weren’t on air yet, we didn’t have a lot of sound effects.”

An idea hit him. A cool thing for the troops would be to hear greetings from their favorite hometown DJs and other radio personalities, as well as greetings from ordinary people back home. And they wouldn’t be tied to the holiday season — they’d be good to run anytime.

“I kind of thought it would take them back home for just a little bit,” said Brazones.

Brazones e-mailed the National Association of Broadcasters for help. It promptly got him in touch with some people in the radio trade press who passed the word to their subscribers — mainly radio group execs and station managers.

“Once that hit … we had … people coming out of the walls,” said Brazones.

More than 100 recorded greetings and other spots have come in to the station by e-mail and more are expected.

“It really surprised me how many greetings we got,” Brazones said.

But it wasn’t just greetings. Two Vietnam veterans contacted them and offered to prepare voice-over spots free of charge. The spots, or “liners,” start and end with an announcer’s voice, but in the middle are joke voices:

“Freedom Radio live, from the Big Town — ‘GET ME OUTTA HERE!’ — 107.7, Baghdad.”

“Broadcasting from an undisclosed location — ‘Sorry I’m late for work, but I couldn’t find the place.’ — Freedom Radio on 107.7 FM, Baghdad.”

“Freedom Radio. Live from the Big Town. — ‘We haven’t had this much fun since I was in a car wreck and broke my neck.’ — 107.7, Baghdad.”

Another features an audio excerpt from what one Freedom Radio staffer said was actor James Arness in the TV Western series “Gunsmoke”:

“The most heavily armed staff on the air – ‘Now boys, I want y’all to have a good time, but I don’t want anybody gettin’ hurt. Now I wanna collect your guns.’ – Freedom Radio.”

And there are the greetings, like the one from a woman with a Southern accent whose greeting is powerful, less for the words she says as for her motherly tone and the way she ends up choked with emotion:

“This is from East Tennessee, your all-volunteer state. To the volunteers in our military, God bless you, and thank you for all you’re doing. I’m in Knoxville and I have a son-in-law who will soon be over there.”

“I tell you what, you can’t beat that,” Brazones said. “That’s home! I can’t deliver that, but they can,” he said of the stateside radio stations.

Some of the greetings are in a comical vein:

“Hi, this is Jim Scott, the morning guy on 700 WLW in Cincinnati. And I just wanted to say, be safe, get home soon, and since this is the home of the Cincinnati Reds, we are looking always for left-handed pitchers. You fit the bill? Then talk to the general and tell him you gotta get outta there.”

“The entertainment industry knows us … they’re very supportive,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Perry Nouis, AFN-Iraq’s commander.

“It was just a matter of getting the word out, and the response has been overwhelming.

“We always say that AFN provides ‘a touch of home,’ and this is a very clear example of how the folks at home are doing that.”

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up