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Radio Reaches Out To Help After Haitian Quake

January 13, 2010: Radio is reaching out to help the people of Haiti, where thousands may be dead after a powerful earthquake struck Tuesday. The capital city of Port-Au-Prince was devastated by the quake, and huge numbers of people have been left without shelter. Stations offering information and explaining where to donate, on their websites and on the air.

Emmis Urban AC WRKS (98.7 Kiss FM) in New York has dedicated a large section of its homepage to a call for donations to Yele, the aid organization founded by Haitian musician Wyclef Jean, while Clear Channel stations including Top 40 WFLZ/Tampa are linking from their homepages to a list of organizations that have a presence in Haiti, including the American Red Cross, Catholic Relief Services, and the Salvation Army.

NPR is offering extensive and ongoing news coverage with audio and photos, while the Haitian-oriented Radio Tete Ensemble duo in Southwest Florida have gone to wall-to-wall earthquake coverage, WINK-TV/Ft. Myers reports.

Former WECR/Beech Mountain, NC, personality April Bostian, who moved to the Dominican Republic a year ago for her husband's work with aid organization Cure International, sent a message, part of which is up at the station's news website, describing what she's seeing in neighboring Haiti. She suggests that cash donations to aid organizations are most useful now: "This emergency is not budgeted for. They will need money."

ABC-TV affiliate WPVI in Philadelphia writes about a Haitian Christian subcarrier station, Radio Vision Celeste, that is working directly with Haitian radio to answer questions and provide as much information as possible on the disaster, while AP reports on a Haitian community station in Montreal that is urging listeners to call in and pass along any information they hear. Host Robert Ismael tells AP, "The only way we can have information is if somebody calls their family in Haiti."

New York-based online station Radio Soleil D'Haiti is also providing updates on the quake; Station Manager Ricot Dupuy told Good Day NY, "The capital of the country is nonexistent." He reports that there is almost no phone service in Haiti and that only one radio station is still on the air.

Radio One/Haiti personality Carel Pedre told CBS News, "I got a lot of people coming in here to the radio station crying for help." Pedre is updating his Twitter feed here.

FCC Offers Fundraising Waiver For Noncomms

As it has done following past disasters in the U.S. and abroad, the FCC's Media Bureau has set up a waiver procedure for noncommercial educational stations that want to raise funds. Noncomms can e-mail their requests to the Media Bureau's Michael Wagner with basic information on the nature of the fundraising effort; the proposed duration of the fundraising effort; the organization(s) to which funds will be donated; and whether the fundraiser will be part of the licensee's regularly scheduled pledge drive or fundraising effort.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti during this terrible tragedy. A number of noncommercial broadcasters have asked for permission to raise funds for relief efforts, which we are happy to give. The Media Bureau has posted procedures for any noncommercial TV or radio station to obtain expedited approval for such fundraising. These temporary waivers will help tap the American spirit of generosity in this time of great need to aid Haitian relief efforts."

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