Posted by: sarahsager | January 20, 2008

A shotgun house full of radio…

With his deep baritone voice lulling our group into an interested trance, Fred Kasten recalled his personal Hurricane Katrina story and experiences within that for radio.  Fred Kasten, a former employee of WWNO, now runs his Saturday night Jazz show from him own home studio. His home studio was always something that he wanted to start but when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, his dream not only came true but also became a radio necessity. Mr. Kasten evacuated to Jacksonville, FL during the brunt of the storm and temporarily worked for the NPR affiliate in the area. From his on air broadcasts he had neighbors feed his cat in New Orleans, until he realized the need to return to his hometown. Once he returned home he found his shotgun house still intact with some minor refrigerator spoiling and a light slimy film covering his possessions, the most of the damage to his house. 

While the NPR affiliate for New Orleans WWNO was not a part of the United Radio Broadcasters of New Orleans, they were one the first stations to return on air for local as well as national coverage. Kasten recalls trudging up the four story stairs to the studio of WWNO in the pitch black, over 100 degree heat and carrying down the undamaged equipment to be transported to his house. From his small make shift radio station studio he did reports of local people who had lost everything in Katrina’s rage. He also stayed alone in the newly silenced by Katrina, New Orleans with his cat. He gave recollection over the air of different parts of New Orleans and the levels of damage in the area. One thing Fred Kasten did to try and bring back normalcy and hope to his city was restarting his Saturday night, hour-long Jazz show, which he still does to this day. He truly believes that New Orleans cannot lose its culture and heritage of  the arts. Kasten was not alone in keeping the efforts of his NPR affiliate station alive during this time period, but with the resources he had and in a heroic effort he gave back to the community to which he believe gave so much to him.

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