Katrina Aid: Radio Algiers

Joel Johnson — First, I apologize for my lack of updates. I've been holding off because I've been too busy to blog and because I wanted to have something cool to show you guys before I took the time to write. Fortunately, I think this is pretty cool.

Some volunteers came down with a low-power FM station, a hundred feet of coax, and a makeshift antenna. What they didn't have was a tower. I was going to strap a pole onto the chimney of the house we're staying in, but another volunteer named Jackie said she was pretty handy with a Skill saw and would be happy to rig something together.

About 8 hours later, we lofted this home-built antenna tower onto the top of the roof and begin broadcasting 94.5 FM, a station the radio operators are calling 'The Battle for Algiers' (which has a political connotation that I have not had the time to grok).

After the sun set, I walked a little ways down the street (but not too far, because of the curfew), listening to scratchy, mono sounds of John Coltrane beaming our from an community radio tower built from the salvaged lumber of destroyed homes. With the helicopters overhead, it felt like a lull in an 1960's American war in our own streets that never happened.

Legally, the radio operators are pretty sure that under a State of Emergency, the FCC allows low-power stations to operate. I've been asking them to verify this in a way that we can refer to when the Natl. Guard or police inevitably come knocking on their door, but if you are a radio operator familiar with the FCC emergency guidelines for LPFM, please feel free to send me an email at joeljohnson@gmail.com with an relevant information I can pass on to these folks.

Picture by Bradley Stuart, Creative Commons, non-commerical.