Broadcasting to Haiti Surges

Creole-language broadcasts to earthquake-stricken Haiti were being heard throughout that country in January on multiple radio frequencies, many delivered by transmitters aboard a U.S. Defense Department-sponsored aircraft that began flying soon after the quake.

The added service featured a five-hour afternoon FM program providing news and disaster relief information for the Haitian people, struggling to cope with that country’s worst natural disaster in over 200 years.

Since the January 12 earthquake, VOA has increased its Creole programming from 1.5 hours to 10.5 hours Monday through Friday and from 1 hour to 9.5 hours Saturday and Sunday.

“We are very gratified to have the direct FM transmission to complement our shortwave and AM broadcasts in response to the crisis in Haiti,” said Danforth W. Austin, VOA director. “These broadcasts demonstrate how U.S. Government agencies can work together when disaster strikes.”

VOA Creole is covering the relief efforts in Haiti with VOA correspondents and Haitian stringer reporters on the ground, as VOA Washington headquarters and Miami bureau staffs work the crisis around the clock. Public service announcements were airing hourly to provide information about public safety and availability of water and food and other disaster assistance. VOA has also set up a call-in line to broadcast messages from family members and friends to Haiti, along with Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Alhurra TV aired a Jan. 19 interview with U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Merten, who examined the goals of the U.S. rescue teams, addressed reports complaining about the U.S.’s control of the Haitian airport and the reports of looting in Port-au-Prince. The interview was conducted with Alhurra correspondent Khaled Khairy at the Port-au-Prince airport.