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Radio In Liberia Seems Like It's All Ebola, All The Time

If you're in a taxi or walking past an open-air market in Monrovia, the radio is blaring. And right now, Ebola is the number one topic on the air waves, says NPR's Jason Beaubien, who's in Liberia's capital this week, covering the outbreak there. "It's become all Ebola, all the time," he says. "It really is dominating the airwaves."

How is the radio covering Ebola?

Today they ran a live press conference on the radio with the the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and someone from the Liberia's Ministry of Health. Agencies like the Teachers' Union are buying time on the radio to say, "Ebola is real." There are songs about Ebola. And the deejays talk about it constantly.

What do the deejays say?

They're saying that "Ebola is real" and reminding people to wash their hands and particularly don't touch dead bodies. And they're giving out numbers for Ebola hotlines.

They make these comments in between the songs they play?

Yeah. And then a deejay was talking today, as we were driving around, about a show he had gone to. He was saying how great it was that the deejay at the show kept "sensitizing" the crowd about Ebola.

Does the radio, or for that matter newspapers or TV, give any voice to people who deny that Ebola exists.

We're not really seeing that in any of the mainstream media. At the press conference today, someone from the Liberian government said that anyone caught spreading false rumors would be arrested and, in his words, "the book thrown at him." So there is a fair amount of fear about publishing or publicizing that perspective.

And then there are the songs. Are there a lot of them?

I don't know if there are enough for a Grammy category. But there are several songs about Ebola.

Some are just about "wash your hands" and stuff like that. But my driver was telling me about this song by Quincy B. It's a cool hip hop song that's better than some of the other songs. It's called "State of Emergency," and the lyrics have a bit more depth: "Pull the alarm, turn on the siren, people are dyin' but nobody's firin' ... It started in Lofa, which is my home town. Elizabeth tried to save her people. She's gone now."

Who is Elizabeth?

One deejay is saying that Elizabeth is a nurse who died.

I know you tried to get a copy of the song so we could share it with our readers.

I bought a CD of it on the street but when I tried to play it, it was blank.

To Goats and Soda Readers: If any of you can help us find Quincy B's song "State of Emergency," we'd be grateful — and we would work to get permission to share it with our readers.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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