osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

Emergency need for radios to help Katrina Victims in Astrodome

RELEASE: Houston Volunteers and Families Displaced by Katrina Build 'Refugee Radio' at Houston Astrodome
Need For 10,000+ Radios Before Station Can Go On Air


Contact: Professor Tish Stringer, tish@rice.edu, (713) 478-4559
Contact: Hannah Sassaman, hannahjs@prometheusradio.org, (215)-727-9620

Relief volunteers and Independent Media organizers in Houston, Texas, in
collaboration with refugees from Hurricane Katrina, have gotten
permission from the Federal Communications Commission and the City of
Houston, Texas to build a 30 watt radio station to serve the families
currently living at the Houston Astrodome and adjacent buildings.

These volunteers, led by a community media publishing group called
Houston Indymedia, are working with volunteer professional engineers and
technicians from all over the United States to get this station on the
air. The Prometheus Radio Project, a not-for-profit organization that
builds Low Power FM radio stations all around the United States, has
worked throughout the weekend to facilitate the legal and timely launch
of this radio station.

"Families are putting up notices on the walls to find lost parents and
children, and then crying themselves to sleep at night, as they start to
let the weight of the past week bear down on them," said Hannah
Sassaman, an organizer at Prometheus. "This station will provide
critical information for families putting their lives back together, as
well as the comfort of programming made by refugees and volunteers in
Houston, just for them."

The Houston Indymedia volunteers, who produce a radio program on
Pacifica radio station KPFT, are moving their whole studio to the
Astrodome and working with volunteers from as far away as Portland,
Oregon to get the station on the air right away. But they'll need more
equipment -- radios for all the potential listeners -- to make it
possible. When the station is online, you'll be able to listen to it
remotely at http://evacuationradioservices.org/.

"The FCC, the City of Houston, and the staff of the Astrodome want this
station to go on the air," says Rice University professor and Indymedia
organizer Tish Stringer. "But the Astrodome staff won't let the station
launch until we have enough radios for all the families. We may have
some leads on 10,000 plus radios, but we still need funds to buy them --
not to mention batteries -- and to help keep this station going and to
help get other stations like it up across Houston and the Gulf."

The telecommunications industry and the grassroots media justice
community are mobilizing to build communications infrastructure for the
displaced people of the Gulf. But some broadcasters wish there had been
more options for emergency relief before the storm and its aftermath

Tom Hanlon, a volunteer with a property owners' association in Baton
Rouge that has been waiting 5 years for their Low Power FM radio license
to come through, said this about the exodus from New Orleans to Baton
Rouge: "A lack of accurate information, coupled with the time spent
tracking down false rumors, did more to delay the mobilization of Baton
Rouge than any hurricane. We need more LPFM stations in our cities to
help with these crises in the future."

To learn more, please call the Prometheus Radio Project at 215-727-9620,
or visit them online at http://www.prometheusradio.org. To donate time
or services to telecommunications efforts in Houston, visit

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