An Archive of Jacob Appelbaum’s Post-Katrina weblog


Houston Astrodome Blocks Emergency Radio Station

Posted in astrodome,houston,media,radio,supplies by jacob on September 8, 2005

Volunteers Keep Trying, FCC License In Hand

Houston Independent media organizers, who have been working in concert
with local community organizations, relief groups, the Federal
Communications Commission, a major electronics manufacturer, and the
City of Houston, have been denied permission to build a 30-watt radio
station inside the Astrodome by R.W. Royall Jr., Incident Commander of
the JIC (Joint Information Committee) at the Astrodome.

Organizers at the Prometheus Radio Project, a not-for-profit
organization that helps community groups broacast to their neighborhoods
under 100-watt licenses, vowed to keep pushing for permission for this
vital station, and for others like it.

After waiting over 5 days since the radio volunteers received official
the official go-ahead from the FCC to build their station, a senior
staffer for the Harris County administration of the Astrodome abruptly
stamped ‘Denied’ on a piece of paper.

The organizers with Indymedia have gathered a full broadcast-ready radio
station, hand-tested by professional engineers in Portland and Austin.
They also have a license in hand from the FCC, as well as 2 seperate
sources of over 10,000 radios. One of those sources is a donation from
the Sony corporation.

“The people on the ground I spoke with personally asked me why I was
there,” wrote local Houston radio volunteer Jacob Appelbaum on the
Indymedia website. “I told them that I was with a group helping to
bring emergency radio information to them, broadcast from right inside
the dome. Those people were overjoyed to hear that they would get a
radio station with emergency information, with information on job
interviews, food, housing, lost children, found persons, clothing and
other important information. It breaks my heart.”

When the volunteer radio builders met with their first delay from the
Astrodome, they secured letters of support from City Council members, as
well as phonecalls demanding access for these volunteers from the
Mayor’s and Governor’s office. Media reform advocates continue to work
around the clock to facilitate the launch of this station.

“We deeply thank the FCC for fast approval of the Low Power FM (LPFM)
license for the Astrodome,” said Professor Tish Stringer of Rice
University. “But R.W. Royall has behaved abominably. By denying
direct, basic communications to the residents of the Astrodome he is
exacerbating the suffering of thousands of people.”

The station’s mission is to provide these new Houston residents with
timely information that they have been otherwise unable to obtain, such
as school enrollment procedures, vaccination availability, and mail
forwarding assistance. While organizing to get the Astrodome station on
the air continues, local community radio station KPFT will continue to
play detailed public service announcements and news for new Houston
resident families as part of their broadcast schedule.

“Radios in the hands of new residents and their families will provide a
major source of information they can control,” continued Tish Stringer.
“The Astrodome will regret missing out on this chance to prove that they
can deliver services that people need — services the FCC bent over
backward to provide to this community — and they’ll never get that
chance again.”

22 Responses to 'Houston Astrodome Blocks Emergency Radio Station'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Houston Astrodome Blocks Emergency Radio Station'.


  1. […] Via John Appelbaum, there’s news that the local officials won’t let volunteers set up a 30-watt radio station that would broadcast to Katrina refugees in Houston: Organizers at the Prometheus Radio Project, a not-for-profit organization that helps community groups broacast to their neighborhoods under 100-watt licenses, vowed to keep pushing for permission for this vital station, and for others like it. […]

  2. birdseatbugs said,

    This is so ridiculous it’s not even funny — is this man even human? Does he, somehow, not understand the importance of knowing what in Blazes is going on? How can he, given his F*^&^%ING JOB? *Tears at hair* I’ve looked and looked online for any way of getting a hold of R. W. “Bob” Royall Junior, but all I could find was an aol address for him that’s over a year old (and quite possibly no longer functional). Perhaps a call to the Honorable Judge Eckles would help? Harris Co. Emergency Services Dept. Helpful Numbers I don’t know if you can get to the Judge himself, but I hope that this is a starting place for you/KAMP.


  3. Jacob Appelbaum at The Astrodome

    Our friend Jacob Appelbaum has made his way to Houston and has been interviewing and photographing people who are being housed in the Astrodome. His goal is to help setup an emergency radio station to help deliver news and information to those who a…


  4. […] Our friend Jacob Appelbaum has made his way to Houston and has been interviewing and photographing people who are being housed in the Astrodome. His goal is to help setup an emergency radio station to help deliver news and information to those who are stying there. So far he has run in to some major roadblocks. You can follow his progress on his blog jacob.wordpress.com and view his amazing photos on his Flickr photostream. […]

  5. Marry said,

    Does he, somehow, not understand the importance of knowing what in Blazes is going on? How can he, given his F*^&^%ING JOB? *Tears at hair* I’ve looked and looked online for any way of getting a hold of R. W. “Bob? Royall Junior, but all I could find was an aol address for him that’s over a year old (and quite possibly no longer functional). Perhaps a call to the Honorable Judge Eckles would help? Harris Co. Emergency Services Dept. Helpful Numbers I don’t know if you can get to the Judge himself, but I hope that this is a starting place for you/KAMP


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