More on Community Radio in Haiti

By TAMARA LUSH, Associated Press Writer Wednesday, January 20, 2010
(01-20) 06:54 PST PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) --

The caller from Boston was desperate.

She had just received a text message Tuesday from a friend trapped in the rubble of a Port-au-Prince school and needed to get the news to rescuers, the Haitian government, the world.

She called the right place: Signal FM, the only radio station in the city that has broadcast nonstop during the earthquake. Its building, transmitting equipment and antennas escaped damage, and the station has been a key source of information since the magnitude-7 temblor wrecked Haiti a week ago.

Day and night, journalists and disc jockeys announce names of missing persons and news of open stores and dead celebrities, while calmly taking frantic calls and e-mails from both home and abroad.

Outside, people crowd the station's parking lot with crumpled handwritten notes, pleading for the announcers to read the names of their missing loved ones or a location where hungry people need relief.

"The radio station is the people's life right now," said 56-year-old Roselaure Revil, a Haitian who runs a small church aid program that is out of food, water and clothing. "Without the radio station, the country is dead. Without the radio station, we can't communicate. We don't have anything."

Even before the earthquake, radio was the nation's most popular form of media. About half of Haitians are said to be illiterate, so they can't read newspapers, and a lack of electricity in many households means television is not an option...

Short but Welcome Message from AMARC Vice President:
Sony Esteus has written that he is alive. He was out of touch for six long days. Not much is known about his condition, but this message was received!
"Thank u all. I'm alive."

and about aid to Haitian stations:
WMNF Community Radio to Hold Emergency Fundraiser for Haiti Relief Organizations
WMNF is trying to raise as much money as possible, and will split the funds evenly between four organizations: Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti, Doctors Without Borders, Partners in Health and Mercy Corps. WMNF will receive no proceeds as a result of the funds raised. 100% of the contributions will go to these relief groups.
WMNF News Director Rob Lorei says 88.5fm listeners are very generous and have helped out in other such efforts.
“WMNF listeners are very community-minded and they’ve been telling us about their deep concern for the people of Haiti. In the past, when we raised funds for the victims of Katrina, we raised a lot of money for relief. There’s no telling how this will turn out- given our economic problems here at home- but my guess is that they will come through in a big way,” said Lorei.
In 2005, WMNF held a fundraiser for Hurricane Katrina victims. >> As it is doing this time, the FCC lifted a ban on fundraising for other non-profit organizations so that public and community radio stations could hold special on-air pledge drives. <<
In one day, WMNF raised $132,000 that was split evenly among four non-profits. Our members thanked us time after time that day for putting their money toward trust-worthy non-profits to rebuild the areas and lives ravaged by Katrina.


From South Africa:
We are working flat out on a Haiti response right now, spearheaded by Michelle. At this point, our donor does not want any technical assistance, but knowing you're there could be very helpful to us. At this point I just don't know. We will be involved in both the emergency response as well as reconstruction efforts later. Michelle will contact you as soon as she can.

Kind regards and thank you very much for your email and offer of assistance. Radio will be extremely important in the coming months.
Kristine P__ | Chief Executive | Freeplay Foundation