Notes From the Storm Zone

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I have been given permission to republish the following, which was originally sent out in the WWOZ 90.7FM newsletter The OZone. Written by the station’s general manager, David Freedman, it describes their experiences during Hurricane Gustav. Using a combination of broadcast and Internet-based technology, the ‘OZ team was able to keep broadcasting throughout the foul weather.

— Loki, Your Humble Narrator

We were having such a good time, too! ‘OZ was just broadcasting away from Denver with four straight nights of live music. We were supposed to go straight to the Detroit Jazz Festival over Labor Day Weekend, and then straight to Minneapolis for the Friends of New Orleans kick-off concert for the Republican National Convention.

Then, we got word of an unwanted interloper lurking in the Caribbean β€” Gustav. Gustav Mahler? Gustav Flaubert? Groovy Gustav? I’ve never even met anybody named Gustav.

We immediately went into capital “W” Weather Mode and turned both our trucks around to a secure location back home, sent engineers scurrying in two different directions β€” each loaded with laptops and hundreds of hours of pre-recorded primo WWOZ shows β€” and battened down our studios before heading out of town. This turned out to be quite a different kind of pirouette.

The city had shut down our French Market studios by midnight, Friday, August 29th. So WWOZ engineer Tony Guillory took control of the airwaves from his bunker in Lafayette until we lost power in New Orleans Monday morning, after which WWOZ could only be heard on-line. When conditions in Lafayette worsened, we threw our operations to Will Kirchheimer, our second technician safely nestled in Greenville, South Carolina!

Then, on Wednesday, when power was restored to the transmitter, Tony recaptured control until we were able to return to normal operations at our studios on Sunday, September 7th. Thus, WWOZ managed to stay on the air as long as the city had electricity, and never did lose its web stream during the entire storm. […]

While we are relieved that New Orleans came out relatively unscathed by Hurricane Gustav, there are many communities in Southeast Louisiana that suffered extensive flooding and wind damage.

We all need to support our neighbors who bore the brunt of Gustav and Ike’s wrath. We can never forget how wonderful our friends in Texas were to New Orleans when we needed their help.

Read more about how you can help Gulf Coast communities in need.

— David Freedman

Photo courtesy of jvanpelt, used under its Creative Commons license

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