A nice article from the Washington Post on the efforts to keep morale up among the troops. While I am far from a fan of the modern version of country music, it's still a nice idea to let the troops hear radio that sounds like home.
BAGHDAD The U.S. military's most popular radio host in Iraq downs her last swig of coffee at 9:53 a.m., slings a pistol over her shoulder and steps into the makeshift studio with five minutes to spare.
She slips on a headset and grabs a puffy microphone from a desk drawer, standing before a bank of three flat-screen monitors and a large sound control board. This is 107.7 on the FM dial, known to U.S. soldiers as Freedom Radio, and it's time for country music.
"We're gonna get it started with LeAnn Rimes and some Kenny Chesney, who you all know I love," says Spec. Kristen King, 21, her sugary twang a product of her Shreveport, La., upbringing. "And don't forget the phone calls, y'all. They're the greatest."
A reservist halfway through a journalism degree at Louisiana State University, King is energetic and apple-cheeked, with a tireless smile. She wears desert camouflage fatigues, and her straight brown hair is pulled tightly behind her head.
Her program, "Country Convoy," is four hours of down-home Americana beamed throughout Iraq from a fiberglass trailer tucked amid a warren of identical units in the fortified Green Zone. On the wall behind her is an Iraqi flag embossed with the logo of her distributor, the Armed Forces Network.
"Kristen King drives the cowboys crazy six days a week," says a baritone voice over the speakers, as the host fiddles with the volume levels and taps her toes. A strobe light alerts her to the first in a steady stream of requests, some of them a bit puzzling.
SPC King says she's hoping to make an Iraqi into a country music fan, too.