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Samoan Radio Survives Tsunami – Media Release from Radio Heritage Foundation

The recent earthquake and devastating tsunami affecting Samoa, American Samoa and northern Tonga brought forward several shining examples of radio broadcasting dedication in the face of extreme danger says the Radio Heritage Foundation.

KKHJ-FM activates emergency warnings
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In Pago Pago, American Samoa, the morning DJ at KKHJ-FM felt the earthquake and activated emergency warnings immediately. Lupe Lohmann then broadcast calls for residents to head for higher ground and by the time she realized that a tsunami was heading up Pago Pago harbor towards the studios, it was too late for her to leave.

She stayed on the air as surging waters smashed into the ground floor of the Pago Pago Plaza, home of KKHJ-FM. You can hear her interview with the BBC describing the events at www.newsbbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8281616.stm and look at photos of the devastation caused by the tsunami at the KKHJ-FM website [www.khjradio.com ]where you can also listen to KKHJ-FM streaming live and see more images of the temporary studios being used at the transmitter site.

Pago Pago FM Towers
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For images of the KKHJ-FM tower high above Pago Pago visit www.radioheritage.net and click on the article ‘Pago Pago Tower Tour’. Other features about American Samoan radio can be found at the same website – ‘WVUV Radio Romance’ and ‘This is WVUV’.

According to the World Radio TV Handbook [www.wrth.com] there are five FM stations on the air in American Samoa [population 61,400] and in addition to KKHJ-FM, live streaming is currently available from KSBS [www.ksbsfm92.com] and KNWJ-FM [www.fm104.org].

2AP 540 AM stays on the air
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Across in independent Samoa, another DJ also stayed on duty as the earthquake struck the islands. Radio 2AP broadcasts at 540AM from sea level near the capital, Apia, and Epati Tamati felt the earthquake and also realized a tsunami was likely. He also chose to stay on the air, accepting hundreds of calls from worried and frightened listeners and broadcasting emergency messages.

You can see a photo of Epati inside the 2AP studios and read his story in the article ‘Radio Man Risks Life for Listeners’ in the October 7 edition of The New Zealand Herald newspaper online at www.nzherald.co.nz.

Radio Polynesia moves to the hills
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Olga Keil of Radio Polynesia in Apia is also reported on the BBC Asia-Pacific website with her comments about the earthquake. You can find this story at www.newsbbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8282115.stm and find out more about the four stations of Radio Polynesia at www.fmradio.ws.

Since the earthquake, the staff have been broadcasting from makeshift studios in the hills behind Apia, close to their transmitter complex.

According to the World Radio TV Handbook [www.wrth.com] there are one AM and eight FM stations on the air in Samoa [population 178,000] but none of the local stations currently stream services online.

The Radio Heritage Foundation recommends reading the following features about radio in Samoa at its website www.radioheritage.net: ‘Radio in Samoa’, ‘Samoan Radio Sale’, ‘ZMAP Apia Samoa’ and ‘Samoan Radio Journey’ for more information about 2AP, Radio Polynesia and other stations.

RNZI Pacific Coverage
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We also recommend staying tuned to Radio New Zealand International [www.rnzi.com] for breaking Pacific news and live reports from reporters in Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga as tsunami reconstruction continues.

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Radio Heritage Foundation is a registered non-profit organization
connecting popular culture, nostalgia and radio heritage across the
Pacific. Our global website is www.radioheritage.net.
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