Iraq’s Al Mahaba keeps the love alive

Harris Corp. has donated a new FM transmitter

While the world’s media continue to spotlight the escalating violence inside Iraq, staffers at the country’s first independent radio station dedicated to women, Al Mahaba, have received a much-needed fillip.

Communications conglom Harris Corp. has donated a new FM transmitter to replace the one destroyed in a terror blast a year ago.

The 5-kilowatt transmitter, which can reach 60 to 90 miles from the station’s Baghdad location, will allow Al Mahaba to connect with people in half of Iraq’s 18 provinces.

“This transmitter has been a dream for our staff and listeners for a whole year,” says Bushra Jamil, a station rep.

Launched in July 2005 with a $500,000 grant from the U.N. Development Fund for Women, Al Mahaba — the Arabic word for “love” — became a pioneering experiment as an entirely independent, secular media org devoted to giving a voice to Iraq’s women.

With phone-in shows that gave vent on topics ranging from relationships to women’s rights and Islamic law, Al Mahaba built a dedicated following. It became so popular that various factions were quick to try and exploit the station.

“The station has received generous offers from several political movements in return for a change in our policy and to advocate their political beliefs, but we have refused them,” says Jamil. “This station is a secular, independent entity and it will stay like that.”

The new transmitter should allow execs to reclaim some of the auds — and revenue — that slipped away as the station’s coverage area decreased following last year’s attack.

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