A housewife calls to talk about a broken sewer pipe. A student calls to talk about a lost love. A shopkeeper calls to say what he thinks of the violent insurgency that has swept his country.
The callers have reached Iraq’s first talk radio station, Radio Dijla, which opened in April and has been putting Iraqis’ opinions directly on the air, mainlining democracy from a two-story villa in central Baghdad for 19 hours a day.
In all, about 15 private radio stations have sprung up since the American occupation began, but Dijla, Arabic for Tigris, is the first to serve only talk. The station is one of the most listened-to in Baghdad, according to its employees, a claim that appears to have merit, judging by its broad following among the city’s taxi drivers, housewives, students and late-night listeners, who tune in to a night talk show about relationships.