Eva Barboni on the Swarthmore lawn
While Rocketboom looks to fill its tank with an estimated $2 million in ad sales–a lot of money for a video podcast–a group of students at Swarthmore College outside Philadelphia are deeply immersed in another sort of podcasting venture. War News Radio is a news program on conditions in Iraq today.
We at War News Radio are trying to rediscover the voices of real people. Our show fills the gaps in the media’s coverage by airing new perspectives, both personal and historical, in a balanced and in-depth manner. We hope our broadcasts will engage our listeners and inspire them to engage critically with the rest of the world
Ben McGrath of The New Yorker profiled the station in a “Talk of the Town” piece last December.
“We thought we were at a disadvantage not being on the ground in Iraq,” Eva Barboni, a junior poli-sci major, said. “But when you hear from reporters there that they can’t even leave their hotels you start to think.” The sound quality afforded by Skype, it turns out, is often better than what can be achieved over the weak landlines in the Green Zone.
“If you’re working for a big American network, with a film crew following you, you’re not going to get out on the streets in Baghdad,” Wren Elhai, a sophomore, said. “We can do a lot from here that the networks can’t do.”
War News Radio also manages to do stories of local interest. In the latest segment available for download (which I’m listening to now as I type), WNR reporter, Amelia Templeton, speaks to actor and playwright Heather Raffo. In her play 9 Parts of Desire–which is currently showing at The Wilma Theater in Philadelphia–Raffo presents a portrait of nine Iraqi women from all walks of life.
This news show is an outstanding public service, and an great training ground for these students, some of whom we may be hearing on NPR in the near future.