Radio station is Haiti's lifeline for news of loved ones

By William Booth
Sunday, January 17, 2010; A14

PETION-VILLE, HAITI -- There is a long line of desperate listeners standing at the guarded doors of the radio station Signal 90.5 FM, which has been on the air without pause since the earthquake struck, broadcasting the most intimate news.

"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 . . ."

Or happier news. "Hello everyone in Les Cayes! This is from Cedric and Gide. We are all alive! Call us at . . ."

In a city without electricity, with no functioning newspapers, no TV signals, no telephone lines, and cellular service so spotty that it is hardly service at all, radio stations in Haiti have become the lifeline of news about the living and dead.

On Friday, U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Merten went on the air live to tell Haitians that the United States was sending 10,000 troops and aid. One man showed up with a little boy. "I found him after the earthquake and did not know where to go," he said. "So I figured I would bring him here."

The station operates on two diesel generators and owner Mario Vian's promise not to stop.

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