“Attention! The family Bissainte is looking for its little boy Boidley. He is wearing a white shirt, blue short pants and is barefoot. Please pray for us and help us find him . . .”
That is the sound of 90.5FM in Petion-Ville, Haiti, as reported by Williams Booth at the The Washington Post. The station has been on the air uninterrupted since the 7.0 earthquake devastated the poverty stricken island nation. In the wake of Mother Nature’s fury, there is naught but the radio. TV is gone, newspapers wrecked, cell service that is nearly nonexistent, and no electricity with which to run them.
Booth reports that right after U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Merten went on the air to announce aid efforts, a man showed up at the station’s guarded doors with a little boy. The man said that he did not know where else to go. Radio, much as it was for those of us in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, is acting as a lifeline.
Far to the North of the beleaguered island, in Chicago, IL, the city’s media are joining forces:
The Chicago broadcasting and print media community is joining the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago and Hewitt Associates in a united effort to help those facing the devastating aftermath of the Haitian earthquake. The CHICAGO HELPS HAITI relief drive will take place Thursday, January 21st from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Television and radio stations throughout the Chicago area will air a blitz of public service announcements encouraging people to call 1-877-565-5000 starting at 5:00 a.m. on January 21st to give to the American Red Cross Haitian relief effort. These public service announcements will begin airing early next week and will continue throughout the relief drive event on the 21st. Stations participating include: WBBM-TV, WCIU-TV, WFLD-TV, WGN-AM, WGN-TV, WLS-TV, WMAQ-TV, WPWR-TV, WSNS-TV, WTTW-TV, CLTV, Me-TV. CBS Radio stations, WFMT-FM, The Clear Channel network of stations, WVON, WGN-AM, the Univision stations including WOJO, WPPN,WVIV, WRJO as well as WTMX, WDRV, WILV, WGCI-FM, WLIT-FM, WLUP, WKQX, WKKC, NextMedia radio stations and virtually all radio stations in the area will participate. Crain’s Chicago Business and The Daily Herald will also be supporting these efforts. More media partners are expected to be added in the coming days. [new release via ABC Local Chicago]
The last time that a partnership happened like this in Chicago was in the aftermath of the Asian Tsunami of 2004.
“The people of Haiti have suffered unimaginable devastation and are in dire need of assistance,” Univision President/CEO Joe Uva said. “We have partnered with the American Red Cross to inform the caring and generous Hispanic community in the U.S. on how they can contribute to the disaster relief effort.”
Univision’s 68 radio stations will be airing PSAs, while its TV outlets will have PSAs along with special reports live from Haiti and Haitian communities in the U.S.
As I well know from my experiences after Hurricane Katrina, one vital form of “aid” is information. People outside the disaster zone are desperate for news of loved ones. It’s a horrible feeling not knowing if your parents, children, or grandparents are dead. Having been there, I especially appreciate the efforts of Radyo Pa Nou radio in Brooklyn, NY. They’ve been coordinating with radio stations outside of Port Au Prince and using that connection to locate the missing. Calls come in from all over and the names submitted are passed on the receivers in Haiti. If info on the people named can be found, it is then relayed back to Radyo Pa Nou who broadcast it during their daily shows. [Check out this video interview with the station's GM Jeffrey Joseph for more.]
I’d like to close with another reminder not only of the importance of giving to these relief efforts, but also the importance of vetting your charity of choice. CharityNavigator.Org is a vital resource for seeing just how much of your money will get to the Haitian people. I strongly recommend it.