RNW sends 'Radio in a Box' to Haiti

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at https://www.rnw.org/about-rnw-media.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide is sending a mini radio station to Haiti. Many radio stations in the country have been destroyed by the earthquake and many of the people that worked there have been killed. It is in disasters like the one in Haiti that information is vital for survival.

By Marcel Decraene and Marjolein Stoop
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It's a reliable, sturdy and low-cost integrated mobile broadcasting system for community radio in disasters and emergencies. These radio boxes contain a laptop, mixer, CD/cassette player and an FM transmitter. They can be used to produce radio programmes using a portable digital audio recorder, microphone inputs or other pre-recorded material.
Close ties
The idea is that Haitian journalists use the equipment. Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW) was asked to help by  the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association, which will help get the equipment to Haiti. This organisation has close ties with partners in the region. The request stated: We feel the exceptional magnitude of this recent disaster merits exceptional consideration and support.
Rik Rensen, RNW's editor-in-chief, thinks exactly the same. The question is whether RNW, which is primarily a journalistic organisation, should be giving emergency assistance. Mr Rensen is usually reluctant about this kind of thing, but thinks Haiti is an exception: "Of course, our job is mainly to provide news to and about these kinds of areas. But in exceptional cases like this, when all round emergency assistance is needed, it is important to provide material assistance as well."
The earthquake in Padang, Indonesia last September was apparently another exceptional case. Then RNW sent a 'radio in a box' to Sumatra. The reactions were positive. Technical coordinator Marc Brouwer says, "It works really well. The equipment is small and compact. You can put it in any plane going that way. It is completely self-sufficient."
Incidentally, the ‘radio in a box’ container will be returned to the Netherlands one day - it's on loan, and not a permanent gift. Dutch media legislation wouldn’t allow that.