Using student gumption and Internet savvy, students at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania are hosting a radio broadcast on the Iraq War and its impact on the Iraqi people, The New York Times reports.
The weekly broadcast of War News Radio has attracted thousands of listeners to its podcasts and streaming webcasts, who consider it an important supplement to traditional mainstream news stories. The success of the program is unusual because Starthmore does not have a journalism program and has no reliable recording studio.
Students soundproofed their first studio with egg cartons, and Swarthmore invested $100,000 in recording and editing equipment. Reporters use the Internet telephony program Skype, which allows them to do phone interviews all over the world at no cost.
"They know more about Iraq than most reporters, except those reporters actually in Iraq," said Marty Goldensohn, a radio veteran and journalist in residence at the university.
The original idea for War News Radio came from David Gelber, a producer for "60 Minutes" and a 1963 alumnus of Swarthmore. He came up with the idea in 2004 after remembering a similar program on Pacifica Radio during the Vietnam War. The broadcast strives to deliver human-interest stories rather that "one long body count," said student Tevye Kelman, 22.
"I've talked with American reporters, and we're both calling Baghdad," said student Eva Barboni, 21. "They can't leave their hotel room, and they're calling a mile away. I'm calling from 6,000 miles away."
The students have collected a fairly large database of Iraqi sources, and to give weight to the broadcast's rising import, the Marine Corps has added a link to War News Radio from its Web site.