An Archive of Jacob Appelbaum’s Post-Katrina weblog

An idea to help with 10,000 radios

Posted in Katrina,supplies by jacob on September 6, 2005

This conversation might be of use to people:

(00:23:08) I had an idea about the radio dilemma.
(00:23:41) ioerrortype23: Oh?
(00:23:42) logged in.
(00:24:00) I understand their reasoning, but don’t agree with it. The information you can provide is important.

Here’re the arguments in favor of a lesser requirement of ~400 self-/solar-/battery-powered portable radios with speakers:
(00:24:10) Coleman have already cranked up their generator production line to 22 hours/day, and FEMA, etc. have contract vehicles in place to purchase from them. This is important, because it means a minimum of paperwork for whichever agency will pay for the radios (Federal agencies can transfer funds to one another via a process called MIPR, pronounced ‘mipper’).
(00:24:22) 1. This is about giving the authorities a way to reach the masses of people in a more effective way than using the PA
system in the astrodome. The problem with the PA system is that if it’s used constantly, people start ignoring it.
Listening to the radio is a self-selecting proposition, and saves the PA for really important stuff.
(00:24:31) 2. Setting up ‘listening circles’ is something which can be used to help organize the evacuees. Designating ‘circle coordinators’
(or whatever they want to call the individuals they put in charge of the radios) and ‘circles’ of up to 25 evacuees each
is a start at getting them organized into groups capable of self-organization and self-help (or whatever multiplier is needed;
the key is to keep around 25:1 of listeners to radios).
(00:24:42) 3. Remind them of FDR’s ‘Fireside chats’; listening to the radio used to be a community activity before the advent of television,
and it can help bring folks together, if done properly.
(00:24:52) ioerrortype23: You should email that to the list
(00:25:00) List addy?
(00:25:08) ioerrortype23: I’ll forward that
(00:25:12) ioerrortype23: anything else?
(00:25:36) Nah, that was it – a way to try and help them see that this can be the nucleus of organization of the evacuees into something more than a mindless mob.
(00:25:45) If it’s done right.
(00:26:09) ioerrortype23: yeah
(00:26:11) Good luck, dude.
(00:26:20) ioerrortype23: Thanks.
(00:28:42) ioerrortype23: Do you mind if I post this conversation?
(00:28:51) By all means, feel free!
(00:29:10) ioerrortype23: ok
(00:29:17) ioerrortype23: It’s going up on


5 Responses to 'An idea to help with 10,000 radios'

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  1. sherrod said,

    Wow. Godalming to the rescue.

  2. A.V. said,

    The dollar stores sell a $1 fm radio (some even have auto-scan for active channel) that comes with a battery (watch battery I believe) and headphones. This means their cost is around 70 cents or less.

    In fact here is an example of the radio and the single price is $1

    So you might be needing to ask for a cash donation of $5k-$7k and either get a dollar store distributor to sell you their entire stock or get a rush delivery from china.

    Here’s an example of other $1-$2 radio’s:

    Hope that helps and best of luck!

  3. marcrotten said,

    heya jake check out the DECT phone eventphone service that CCC set up for hacker camps, and dployed at what the hack..

    basically we all got our own numbers (emmanuel was 2600, mine was 6667, etc). On site we got free calls to each other AND dialing 9999 got a live feed of th radio station.

    there was also an asterisk box set up to bridge our free DECT phone service into free long distance..

    check out eventphone’s website.

  4. Gb said,

    I just spoke to my sister who has been working at the Astrodome providing counseling (she’s an MSW) to the tens of thousands of people milling around bored and uninformed at the Dome. Here’s what you need to know: they have no infrastructure there whatsoever. My sisters friend brought a laptop and it was the only PC in the dome that anyone could access. Even if you bring laptops, many of the people sheltered there do not have email addresses or experience using them. There are too many sites listing people missing from the storm.
    No one knows that FEMA will provide missed job insurance as a result of the storm. Not only don’t they know, but no one is telling them. Be prepared to brings not just infrastructure, but answers to tough questions.

    Be prepared to be overwhelmed. Nothing can prepare you for what you will see. The pix don’t do it justice. The people pushing shopping carts around the outside of the Dome, the big signs saying “No Volunteers Needed” when they do need them, and the best one yet: a group of counselors sitting in the exhibition hall wondering why no one was taking advantage of their services. The reason: military officers instructed not to let any non-social work types into the exhibit hall. THEY JUST SAT THERE WONDERING WHY NO ONE WAS COMING IN!!

    Also, these people are incredibly bored. Bring magazines, decks of cards, and anything else you can think of that will help them pass the dreadful hours.

    Bless you for caring.

  5. jacob said,


    You couldn’t have been more correct. It breaks my heart and brings tears to my eyes.

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