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America Supports You: Radio Station Runs Valentine Salute

By Paul X. Rutz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2006 – A radio station is saying thanks to a few lucky troops by interviewing them on the air and giving them a romantic night on the town this Valentine's Day.

Howard University Radio, which reaches almost a half million listeners around the nation's capital, began the program of interviews yesterday, said Renee Nash, WHUR's director of information and public affairs. "We wanted to do something a little differently this year for Valentine's Day," Nash said. "We thought, 'What greater way to let the troops know that we are thinking about them and that we love and honor them than on Valentine's Day?'"

The station worked with America Supports You, a Defense Department program promoting grassroots support for America's troops, to identify five servicemembers who have recently returned from duty overseas, she said.

Each day this week, one servicemember is appearing on the "Real D.C. Morning Show" at about 9:15 a.m., Nash said. The series began yesterday with former Army Staff Sgt. Eugene Simpson, who was recently medically retired. Today featured Air Force Staff Sgt. Chris Kennedy. The three remaining interviewees are Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Joulious Wright, Marine Capt. Dan Hench, and Army Staff Sgt. Shaijn Cabrera.

Then, on Feb. 14, the troops and their significant others "will enjoy a wonderfully romantic evening," Nash said.

The five couples will be picked up by limousine from the radio station's broadcast headquarters and taken to Matchbox Restaurant in D.C.'s Chinatown for a candle-lit dinner, Nash said. From there, they will travel to Washington's Warner Theatre for a rhythm and blues concert by Eric Benet and Lalah Hathaway.

The troops' dates will receive a dozen long-stemmed roses from Lee's Flower and Card Shop, and each couple will receive tickets to see the NBA's Washington Wizards take on the Minnesota Timberwolves the following week, she said.

On Valentine's Day, WHUR will broadcast live from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. from the National Postal Museum here, encouraging its 482,000 listeners to purchase phone cards and postage stamps to be sent to troops overseas, "to help them stay connected with their loved ones here," Nash said.

This Valentine's Day event was the brainchild of Jim Watkins, WHUR's general manager, she said.

"It is certainly the philosophy of our general manager that we not be just about reporting about what's going on, but actively involved in addressing concerns and issues in our community," Nash said.

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