An Interview with narrator and author of book "Radio Frequency 1160"

A radio story that became the voice for Abadan resistance

Ahmadreza Amiri Samani
Translated by: Fazel Shizard


Note: The book "Radio Frequency 1160: Here is Abadan, the Voice of Resistance and Endurance/ Hana Abbadan" has just been published (Fall 2019). The author of the book is Fazlullah Saberi. This book has been published at the Office of Culture and Sustainability Studies of Isfahan’s Art Center and has been published by Surah Mehr Publications.

Saberi wrote a 524-page book, named "Radio Frequency 1160", using his memories and his colleagues and companions from the first years of Sacred Defense. That is why, he and Abdullah Naeemzadeh have conducted more than 100 hours of interviews. He has, of course, explained that some of his own memoirs have already been mentioned in the book during the Iraqis imposed war against Iran on various occasions, as well as in the preparation of the book "Restless Garrison". The memoirs of other narrators are included into the text of book based on subject, it is also specified where the narrations are narrated.

The book, "Radio Frequency 1160", to some extent, illustrates the role of Abadan's radio in the earliest years of sacred defense from the perspective of the broadcasters at that time. Some of the titles includes: " The Addresses of Abadan Radio in Sacred Defense", "Problems of the First Days of War", "Special Programs and Interviews", "Interview with Bani Sadr", "Sheikh Shahid Sharif Ghannouti", "the Epic of Zulfqari Area", "Interview with Oil Minister Mohammad Javad Tondguyan" "," Operations in the Madan Hills "," Ayatollah Jamie and His Unique Friday Prayer "," The Little Museum of War on Radio "," Operation Samen-ol-A'emeh (The Breakage of Abadan's Siege) "," Operation Operation Tariq al-Qods "," War Marriage "," Radio " Oil Radio Becomes Abadan's Radio, " Preliminary Operation Valfajr (Before the Dawn/Dawn of Victory) ", "Wave War" and "The Role of Abadan's Radio"

He is a narrator of Abadan Radio resistance during sacred defense. It was a Radio that was originally named National Oil Radio and after the conquest of Khorramshahr it was changed as Abadan Radio. Saddam's army repeatedly damaged by the power of this broadcast; Saddam’s army repeatedly attacked Abadan Radio building. Eventually, in the winter of 1986, the building and its transmitter were bombed and broke down, but the war was weak; the frequency 1160 of Abadan Radio had fulfilled its mission. Fazlullah Saber (Saberi) was born in Abadan and entered Abadan Radio (National Oil Radio at that time) and remained there from the summer of 1980 to the time Radio Abadan was bombed. It was coincided with time he was in charge of Radio Abadan, from the winter of 1984 to winter of 1986. Mr. Saberi has many memories of himself and his colleagues on the radio during the war in Abadan.

When were you born?

■ It Was On April 1st, 2006. I think I became famous among my friends and classmates for the nickname "Saber" when I was fifth and sixth grade; and my family also used to call me in this nickname. We are originally from the villages around Isfahan and some of my brothers and sisters were born there. During the hot summer months in Abadan, we would go to Isfahan and return to Abadan when the schools reopened.

Tell us about the house and Abadan at that time!

■My dad owned a joint shop where he was selling charcoal and wood. Because, by the time I was eight or nine years old, not all people had electricity and they were using coal for cooking. We were living in Farahabad at that time in Abadan and there was a neighborhood named "Gate" with eighteen oil companies in front of us that had good facilities. Houses in neighborhoods of the oil company were equipped with clubs and gyms and electricity. But the average neighborhoods or so-called city areas were without facilities. The neighborhoods of Abadan were either industrial area or urban one. Industrial neighborhoods were belonged for Oil Company employees, and urban neighborhoods were belonged for ordinary and middle-class people in downtown. We had no water in the house. At the top of each alley was a water pump called Bamboo. My mother, God bless her, she would take her clothes and washed them early in the morning in front of the bamboo because she was religious woman and don’t like to be seen by strangers. We also had pitchers for drinking called "Haban" and there was a person Solomon from Bandar Abbas would bring us water once a day with "Daleh" - cheese cans- and received five riyals[1]. We poured that water into Haban. As we got older and the urban areas was also equipped by facilities; coal was no longer usable. My father separated from his partner and ran a grocery store elsewhere. After a while, there was revolution and war, and he moved to his hometown, Isfahan.

■The names of Abadan neighborhoods look interesting. How were these names chosen?

■ look! Most of names were influenced by English names in the Oil Company areas. Because before the nationalization of oil, the British also lived here. But Abadan also had labor zones, like the Workers Area. Many of these areas were belonged to workers. But some parts, such as the North and South sections, which were paired, were exclusively for high-level Oil Company's employees who were both Iranian and English. In Brim area, high-level Oil Company's employees were living. We had an area called Tanki 2 where there were two large water tankers, and water was flowing from those tankers into the houses. Or the Kafisheh area with a cafe inside. The streets were called Leine, derived from the English word "line". Hospitals were called "Hospital" and clubs were called "clubs". But urban areas did not have English names, such as Farahabad, Shahabad, Pirouzi Area, Jamshidabad and Ahmadabad. It was strange that the Oil Company had all facilities. That is, it was a separate country. He even had a radio. The National Oil Company's Radio became Abadan Radio later. The oil industry football team that still exists, and the current Takhti football stadium, all belonged to the oil company. All areas of Abadan were on public transport and bus routes and the whole of Abadan had twelve stations. The first station was after the Kafisheh and twelfth station was twelve in Shahabad area. People, apart from the urban division, had divided Abadan in these twelve stations publicly. For example, they used to say: "let's go to one of the stations to eat something. As there were different cultures, Arabian and Iranian nations were living together.

I studied in two school during high education. At the first three years, I educated in Farukh school where was at a distance of ten minutes to our house, and next school, Jamshid, was near to Tanki 2. Our mosque was in front of Farukh School. It was Sadr mosque founded by Seyed Asadulah Sadr Hashemi Esfahani who was a religious apostle and one of Ayatollah Khoee’s students.

How do you join to radio?

■well, Abadan's radio was determined as a National Oil Radio, because it was equipped by nice technology and Antenna. It has a high coverage. There were 180 or 200 cupric cables in earthy network connected to Antenna. That strong and earthy that was wet and near to water caused the airwaves of the radio was distributed more than regular radios. After a while, I saw in Documentary Archive that some of European countries, for example Fenland, had asked for showing a music. I had never thought that I would join to the radio.

So, how was your fate changed?

■I Joined to mass media through my friend from the Sadr mosque. It was 1980 when I became known in another mosque, and as M.r Hashemi was of experienced staff of National Oil Radio was of the members of Friday's Prayer Center and Imam Ayotallah Jami; I started my activities caused me to be joined with activities of Friday's Prayer Center. Gradually, I became a Muazzn[2] in Friday prayers. One of my friends named Mr Afshari who used to come Friday's prayer, said me: "Saber! You have good sound. How about being a radio broadcaster for Literacy Movement program!?" I replied:" I can't supposed to be a radio broadcaster at all; Am I able to be a radio broadcaster?!" he said: "yes. Let join to us! There is a woman as well. It is first time for her too. Let, both of you, to join radio and be broadcaster!"

I received some texts written on a small notebook; I read them for several time and memorized. The woman and I went to radio at an appointed time on July 26th 1980. As soon as I entered into studio, I saw Mr. Jafar Ali Najafi who was one of religious and active friends. Then, he wanted me to work on radio.


Probably, some of the members of radio left it after revolution, radio need young members.


Of course, there were some members still, such as Saeed Rabei who joined to Iran's massmedia center and became a radio broadcaster at the first days of war. Because the programs were not changed after revolution, and religious and lecturing programs were still running.  We, all, came from religious communities both to learn how we should work and give a variety to it. It was same for Iran's Radio program.

Was your radio frequency 1160?

■ Yes. A weak transmitter was active on this frequency to take main transmitter rest about 2 or 3 hours in the afternoons. By the way, here I started my work and visited various units. Initially, I hadn't permission to visit the production unit. Lead room was opened whenever I wanted to read a news; I wasn't given permission to see devices and archives too. I did like to be radio broadcaster; l liked to know about devices, voice table and achieves. It means, if there was another radio broadcaster with a nice sound or there was Mr. Gholamreza Rahbar, I would prefer them read text. When the work shifts were changed and there wasn’t any one to be responsible for the archives, Mr. Najafi gave me permission to go through the archive and visit it. There was a few staffs- such as Mr. Saburi who was living in our neighborhood and had twins and l had taught him prayer in mosque- helped me to learn how the devices worked. There was a voice-maker and operator - who has two children and was one of active communists in Abadan - he didn’t allow me to enter the room and locked it. I was forced to look through the hole of door to see how they work with devices. When did these events take place? It was taken place 45 days before war. The limitation of going to studio, lead room and production room caused me to press the button "play" beside bottom "Record" in the war when it was first time for me; then, when I found it wasn’t played, I pressed button "stop". This mistake is alive in mind still.  

When the war was going to be begun, many of them left. One of them was the followers of Baath party and limited me a lot. Mr. Najafi was aware of his tendency towards Baath and introduced him to Pubic Relation of Oil Company. When we the war began, Radio became empty of staffs and Mr.Najafi who was one the staffs of Oil Company, became the headman of Radio.  

How was the building of Abadan's Radio like? 

■It was a fenced building with green belts. It was in a distance of 100 hundred meter away from Arvand. I remember that my house was near to the house of Mr. Khachatorian who was Armenian and expert of one of factories of Oil Company. We had a lead room, a news room and editorial room. We had a Radio and a big room where we made it a prayer room. There was an archive room and a kitchen, dining room and the store of documents. There was also guard during the war to protect the radio building.

Our transmitter center was located in Jamshidabad called The End of Asphalt because the asphalt was ended there, and it was near to Military Service Center. We had a principled aerial relation with transmitter center. That is we had a VHF antenna. They used to turn on a transmitter button. It hardly ever encountered with problem. It was necessary to open the door of transmitter unit.

How do you start you activities in radio?

■It was chance and lucky for me. I was 21 years old, and many of them left radio when I joined it. Initially, I learned their duties and how should I change pages. When Mr. Najafi was absence, I could take the key of archive to visit it. Other broadcaster who remained in radio, didn’t make problem for me until it was the last Friday of before 31 Shahrivar. I was a Muazzn in that Friday prayer. The prayer was hold in Abadan's Oil University. At the time prayer, I saw that some of the forces of Revolutionary Guard were finding and calling each other. After prayer, I asked them: "What's up? Where are you going? Why were they calling each other?" they replied:" the Iraqis have killed one or two Khorramshar,s people and some struggles have been taken place in there, and we are going to see what have been happened there." Here, I thought myself to get the radio for a fighting. Of course, we thought it would be ended after few weeks. Basij (volunteer forces) wanted me to record the sound of Azan[3] and lectures on a tape. Mr. Najafi asked me for giving help. I prepared some original tapes to do help them. I said me to record some sounds of military marches to play for Revolutionary Guards and motivate them. I chose the best ones and some alarms for possible red a white situation. I did know that the war would be lasted for eight years. One of that marches was one that we played it in Fath ol-Mobin operation, and central radio took it from us later, and I became as a formal announcement of war situation in Iran's radio. Of course, we played the sound of military marches on Ahvaz's and Abadan's radio, because Khozestan was the center of war, and the news of forces and ambulances was being highly announced in radio.

That is, you predicted the war would be more serious? Didn't you?

■Somehow. We thought it would be a simple war. It was the first day of war at 8 or 9 o'clock, and I was in radio station that it was bombed suddenly; the building of radio was shaken. We were shocked and scared. But, as I had already experienced it, we found that it was an attack from Iraq. We were near to Arvand River and the Oil Company was under the attack of Iraq. It was bombarded in the beginning of war. We didn't take training course for non-military defense. Of course, the national oil radio taught it people partly. In 1975, there was short-time struggle between Iraq and Iran. As nobody predicted that a war would be taken place that was why we were not taught in non-military defense. All Abadan's people was in this situation as well. Abadan was remained in this situation for 9 months. No one was taught it by university, schools and even Red Crescents. Even, many of Revolutionary Guards’ forces just saw some photos of mortar for first time. The people didn’t know how they should react when they would hear the sounds of mortars; they just looked around wonderingly. In this way, the numbers of the injured was being increasingly increased. We were in fight near the borderline all the time until the end of war, and it was fun to announce a white situation because our radio building became bombarded and broken. There wasn’t any radio to broadcast white alarm until the year 1995 when the radio was revived, that is, 15 years after the war.

What was the situation of radio after war?

■The war caused the hospital, initially, looked for getting help. We were requested to say people to bring blankets and medical materials to hospital as soon as possible. We received needed blood from people. Fire fighters announced people not to gather in a place to move easily. The Oil Company tried to make people aware about gas stations. Another example was to distribute coupon among people; institutions stared to summon people to receive coupon. Our radio was spontaneously changed as an urban and local radio to fulfill daily and regular needs of people. We had a key role among people. After a while, we found that we should say announcements vaguely, because whenever we announced that, for example, an area was bombarded, it the Iraqi would know where they had bombarded and where they were affective. They tried to adjust their rifle ranges. Abadan has a strategic situation, it means if planes took off towards Basra, they would arrive Abadan easily and quickly.

After a while, the people left Abadan; there were just militants. Did you stay in Abadan's radio again?

■We were the sound of resistance in Abadan, and we should stay there. The second day of war the Abadan's electricity was went off because the enemy bombarded water and electricity installation. It was a main issue, because we were the sound of resistance; all people expected us, if they heard a word from radio, it would show that the Abadan was still alive. Whenever electricity went off, people who became unhopeful. It was the only thing what we request from Electricity Office. They replied that they hadn’t a powerful generator to supply our electricity. We request from Oil Company, they replied that they hadn’t the generator. There was committee established in Abadan at that time named Food Committee to give food to institution's staffs who were related to war and stayed in the city; we went to the committee and said them that we needed the generator of electricity, they replied that they didn’t have generator, but there was a closed bakery where there was a generator with one kilowatt in hour used whenever the electricity went off, you could go and take it. One of my friends named Gholamali Ghalambur went and take it by a cream-colored van. We thought that we could provide our electricity for building and production. When we installed the generator, we found that it was not able to work well. Radio's units didn’t have electricity. Our sound system was only part that got benefit of electricity. That is way, it didn’t work well because of the system heat; it used to work for two hours and then stop; Gholamali Ghalambur tried to make it cold. It was near the prayer time and better to announce the time. Then we decided to stop radio for technical problem, and after making cold the radio we could start to work. We needed a background sound and other things but it was not available. We had a recorder worked with battery; we took it and other cassettes of prayers behind sound system and microphone and played it. We announced the time of payer and played the music using the recorder and read the announcement of institutions until the generator stopped because of heat. For a while, the city's institutions found how necessary a radio is. They provided a powerful generator for us; whenever the electricity went off we used the generator.

What did you do your works, then?

■We became familiar with the atmosphere and took step toward making plan. It means what kind of plan we should make according the situation of war. For example, we started to make a report of Khoramshar’s area where was in gunshot. Then, we got interview with injured people and commanders. At that time, Ayatollah Jami was a beneficial person for all people of city. He used to visit us every day, and was so kind to us because he was working in Friday's Prayer Institution. I mentioned it in his memoirs (titled I Write to Remain) that he visited us every day and brought persons and gusts from different cities to radio for speaking. This division in works causes us to be serious in tasks and responsibilities and I became responsible for a position in radio; I was responsible for an archive and broadcast. Later, we tried to employ some new active and religious members beside those who were retired or left it. All of us knew that we were not just responsible for determined task; every one tried to help each other in every work. For example, we had a service force named Mr. Nourozi. But, when he was absent, we cleaned the rooms. I remember that we were in shortage of water, and one of our coworkers named Seyed Abdulah Mirtaleb made water well, it became know the well of  Seyed Abdulah Mirtaleb.


The mangers of Abadan Radio in sacred defense (1981). Right to left: Gholamali Ghalambur, Gholamreza Rahbar,Seyed Mihamad Sadr Hashemi, Fazlullah Saberi.


How long was the radio under the rule of Oil Company?

■It was called National Oil Radio until the operation of Khoramshar,s liberation; the Oil Company protected us to an extent. Then, it became Abadan, Radio and we worked under the rule of mass media.

Did you remember Iraq's attack to Iran?

■I remembered that Mohammad Maleki, journalist, Mr. Sadr Hashemi, the manager of radio, and came back from Sosangard. We went to Ahavaz and we were to arrive Abadan after 1 hour and half, as usual. I think it was 9th October 1980. When we had passed the Darkhoein area during Abadan's road, we found that the road was out of cars. We arrived in a village named Mohammadieh near to Abadan; we saw a van was signaling us with car lights. He was governor named Shadgan. He said us the road was blocked by Iraqis forces; they captured the children and women on road. He added: "eleventh forces of Revolutionary Guards are at the end of Mohammadieh village and has just simple guns. If we move ahead, we will be captured by Iraqi forces." We had a handgun and Uzi (Submachine Gun) and a camera; if they captured us, they would kill us for having gun and informative activities. We wanted to come back but our car was broken. We pushed car some hours until we arrived at atomic energy area where it was 4 kilometer far from Abadan. We were not given permission to go into atomic energy area until morning. A truck stopped by us, near gate. The Driver wanted to go Abadan to move the bag and baggage of his sister's house. At night, mosquitoes attacked us. If someone asked me what your worst night is, I will reply that it is the night mosquitoes attacked us. In the morning, as we injured by mosquitoes, we moved towards Abadan on the road of Shadegan. Before 8 o'clock, we arrived Station 7 in Abadan. As we arrived, an Iraqi Airplane came toward us. It shows that the plans had fallen down their bombs somewhere else and shot the bullets toward us. I was in small room of truck alone and took iron bars. The bullet were passing by my face and head. They struck the truck and ground. I get rid of danger; here the forces of Revolutionary Guard came and said that iraqi forces had passed over Karun river and moving towards Abadan.

We went to the city and set radio for our works. After two or three days, at 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning, we were called that Iraqi forces were coming from Station 7 towards the city, we should did whatever we could do. We replied that people were in sleep, you should inform people with telephone and message to go masque and turn on radios. We went to studio and broadcasted military march after the time of prayer. We do military march behind broadcaster in studio as well. I also broadcasted this announcement in studio: "Gallant people of Abadan!  The enemy is ready to come in Iran through Abadan's Station 7. The protection of Abadan subject to your defense. Do everything you can!" we broadcasted this announcement for several times. It was about 8 o'clock in the morning, I went to see what happened in city and whether the announcement was affective or not. I found the people brought dust by truck and blocked many of roads ended to Station 7. Fortunately, the military forces came and caused them to pullback the enemy.

Tell about martyr Golamreza Rahbar!

■He became friend with worriers. He was the reporter of Abadan's Radio and sometime took visual report too. His father worked in Oil Company and had a simple car. Golamreza was a referee of basketball and a reporter of Weekly Information Magazine. He had talent in report. My friend and I believed that Golamreza was a pious one that was growing in term of moral and personal self-respect, and in term of religious awareness and cognition. In the decade of 1981 when T.V was not widespread, people focus paid attention on radio more. At that time, Golamreza didn’t like to be a famous person and people respect him. That is why, he didn’t like to be a broadcaster unless he was forced. In studio, we used to request him a lot to sit behind microphone. Someday, I turned the lamps of studio to see what he was doing. I saw that he was reading one of Quern's verse: "Oh lord! Shelter me from my temptations." I don’t forget it.

Who were the addresses of Abadan's radio?

■We had Persian and Arabic programs and we should match the language of programs with addresses. The first addresses were worriers who were fighting against enemy. We should speak with them about resistance. The second group was those who had remained in cities and we should motivate them not to be worried and to be resistant. The third group was those who their family had gone cites, but they remained there. Of course, they were worried for their city, children and wives. On the other hand, Khoramshahr was captured in November 1980. We covered Khoramshahr frequently, tried to elevate them, because they were being attacked by Iraq all nights and days. Next group was the officials and people came from nearby cities and area that helped evacuees; we wanted them not to be worried. We said them that when some cities, such as Abadan, were being standing against the enemy, you shouldn't be worried. The last addresses were adjacent countries. We announced them, in Arabic language, that we are not warmonger; this war was started by Saddam. We informed them the process and events of Iraqi attacks and Iranian defense.

When did you become the responsible for Abadan's radio?

■ I started my activity as a broadcaster, but I didn’t interest it. I found that the archive need to be organized. I started to work on archives. I tried to be a supplier. I wrote announcement, report, words, and recorded sounds. These affairs gradually caused me to be familiar with all of radio's actives. I was the manager of a unit and the production manager was another one, I helped him. There some reporter, but I tried to help them as well. I was responsible for archive, and begun to learn recoding sound and operator. It means, I became the responsible for teaching as well. I became a supplier later, and retired as a senior supplier in mass media. I was the responsible for radio from the 1984 to the days of operation Karbala 4 and 5, because the radio manager was Sadr Hashemi who was the head of Khuzestan's Islamic Culture and Guidance. He left and I was forced to be responsible of radio. In December 1985, the enemy shot the antenna frequently, until it fell down and broken; we couldn’t repair it. Then, a powerful and mobile transmitter that installed it outside of city in an area named "1200"- in the road of Abadan to Ahvaz. This transmitter was also shot by the enemy after operation Karbala 4; we became disarmed.



[1] Iranian currency

[2] A person who cooperates in prayer order by telling some Islamic religious sentences aloud while Muslims are praying

[3]It is a religious loud announcement at the time of prayer  

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