BAGHDAD - A format change at Pittsburgh radio station WLTJ has created a political crisis in this volatile city. Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric and recently converted fan of a genre of music known as “adult contemporary,” has instructed his followers to take to the streets until WLTJ abandons its new Q92 format.
“No soft-rock, no peace!” shouted al-Sadr, who appeared on a popular Iraqi morning show flanked by former WLTJ on-air talents Gary Love and Beth Bershok. A U.S. State Department official said al-Sadr discovered WLTJ’s Lite FM after entering an internet chat room devoted to the music of Air Supply. The official said it is believed the steady diet of inoffensive, soothing popular songs on the WLTJ Lite FM playlist contributed to a reduction in regional tensions. “There is no way al-Sadr would have called for a cease-fire before he discovered Dan Fogelberg and Gordon Lightfoot, and there’s no way he hears them without Lite FM.”
WLTJ program director Chuck Stevens said his station would not bow to pressure from “foreign extremists,” and urged all listeners, including Mr. al-Sadr and the Mahdi Army, to give it a try. “If we go back to Lite FM, then the terrorists win,” said Mr. Stevens.