A team of Elon broadcast and new media majors are in New Orleans gathering interviews and documenting the importance of radio during Hurricane Katrina for inclusion in a forthcoming book about the way radio stations joined together in the 2005 storm's aftermath.
The project was conceived by associate professor Connie Book after reading about the struggle and then success of local radio to resume operations post Katrina as a consortium called United Radio Broadcasters of New Orleans.
As a result of the New Orleans event, the radio industry is rewriting its emergency response. The story of Hurricane Katrina also demonstrates the importance of local radio when public safety communications systems fail.
Clear Channel radio has provided in kind support for the project which includes the publication of a primer for radio and emergency broadcasting stakeholders. Over the next week students will be keeping a blog of their experiences and the week includes interviews with radio executives, public safety officials, radio engineers, ham radio operators and local non-profits that utilized radio.
“We’ve learned that radio waves, typically thought of as providers of entertainment in today’s marketplace, move from entertaining to sustaining local communities during events like Hurricane Katrina. I think its incumbent upon the academic community to preserve and perpetuate these stories to better understand the historical and cultural events of our time,” Book said. “I have a lot of gratitude that Dick Lewis, a vice president with Clear Channel radio agrees and stepped forward to help with this project.”
In addition to studying broadcast events during Hurricane Katrina, students are reading and researching each of their own topic areas for the book.