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Houston Volunteers and Families Displaced by Katrina Build Refugee Radio at Astrodome

Houston Volunteers and Families Displaced by Katrina Build 'Refugee Radio' at Houston Astrodome Need For 10,000 Radios Before Station Can Go On Air
katrina_ten_thousand.pdf (172 k)
Contact: Professor Tish Stringer,
tish (at),
(713) 478-4559

Contact: Hannah Sassaman,
hannahjs (at),

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

"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 hit.

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 To donate time
or services to telecommunications efforts in Houston, visit

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