Hurricane Katrina Ruined Radio Broadcasting in New Orleans

I was always interested in radio.

Starting at the age of eight going on nine, I listened to the radio regularly. From that age until the age of fifteen or sixteen, I mostly listened to stations that played Top 40 music.

Starting at age 15, I began to become interested in talk radio, though I didn’t start to listen to it on the regular until the Summer of 2003 at the age of sixteen and a half.

Part of this was a desire to experiment with AM radio and the other part of this, was because I was starting to think politically.

By the Fall of 2003, I was listening to talk radio more than music radio. I was then sixteen going on seventeen.

Because of many policies of the Bush Administration (2001-2009), I remember commenting in my World History Class that America had become “a police state.” I was echoing what former Libertarian Presidential Candidate Harry Browne, God rest his soul, said on his talk show. The teacher barked back saying that I “listen to too much talk radio.” He was right about me listening to too much talk radio, but, America during the Second Bush Administration had become very much like a Fascist police state. Do me a favor and read the 14 Points of Fascism and see for yourself. Another time, this same teacher personally went up to my desk and referred to the French as “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” because they refused to participate in the Iraq War. He durn well knew that nationality of my surname is French and he frequently made fun of it.

Okay, I may seem off topic but I’m going somewhere with this.

Between the time I started listening to talk radio in 2003 until late August of 2005, there was a lot of awesome talk radio content to choose from in the New Orleans market and even in adjoining markets.

A very wicked woman named Katrina ruined all of this and many other things. Some things have rebuilt themselves out of the ruins, but unfortunately, talk radio in New Orleans has not. Even most of the current content on WWL is pretty boring for someone like me.

In this piece, I will try to list the stations in the New Orleans market that was once very entertaining and informative but have since either gone dark or were converted to something more boring.

I think the best way to do this is to list by frequency. I will be going mostly by memory but I do have the assistance of good ole Wikipedia. Some stations are still in operation, but during that time I didn’t listen to them. Keep in mind that the period I am referencing for these stations is between June of 2003 and late August/early September 2005.

Here we go:

600 kHz WVOG-So I didn’t listen to this station until after I came to Christ in July of 2004. Afterward, I listened to it quite a bit until I began to backslide for the first time in March of 2005.

690 kHz WTIX/WIST (now WQNO)-I discovered this station in October of 2003 and it was carrying a show hosted by former Libertarian Presidential Candidate Harry Browne. The station had a feed from a radio network that carried other interesting shows. I wish I could remember the name of that network. Harry Browne came on every night at 10:00 PM Central Time but before Harry Browne came on, there was a show about astronomy that I would tune in while waiting for Harry Browne to come on. I almost began to cultivate an interest in astronomy just from listening to that show. At the top of every hour, there was a news broadcast from CNN Radio and at the time CNN was more moderate, very much unlike today. In April or May of 2004, the station became more conservative, which I was opposed to conservative values mostly because I had not yet come to Christ and I was young. Furthermore, I was staunchly against blindly following those in authority just because they were indeed in authority. It seems that so many around me blindly supported George W. Bush, no matter what, and I was appalled. The station began playing news broadcasts on the hour from Fox News, which I eschewed. Another thing I eschewed was so much dedication to sports on that station. There were still some talk programs but only aired while I was in school. One program that stayed on until maybe Katrina was a local show hosted by Gerry McCann who was an electronics technician in the New Orleans area. Seriously why can’t there be more shows like these? By the time Katrina did her evil deeds, I didn’t listen to this station. 690 kHz used to put out 20,000 Watts but now puts out less than 10,000 during the day and even less power at night. I’m not complaining at all because the station now carries catholic community radio and also some feeds from ewtn. I cannot endorse anything catholic anymore and maintain a clear conscience.

750 kHz KKNO-I received this station a couple of times whilst trying to receive WSB out of Atlanta, which is on the same channel.

800 kHz WSHO-I didn’t listen to this station until after coming back to Christ in late 2008, so I cannot comment much on what it was like pre-Katrina. I know now that I enjoy Christian music and some of the Bible studies aired on this station.

870 kHz WWL-my Dad listened to this station a lot all while I was growing up, especially during sporting events and whenever preparing for a hurricane. I discovered “Newswatch Magazine” hosted by David J. Smith on this station in the Summer of 2003 but didn’t listen to his show on the regular until the Spring of 2004. That show was a contributing factor in me having a mental breakdown in June of 2004 but that mental breakdown was also a major factor in making me realize that I am a sinner and therefore my need for Christ. I finally came to Christ in July of 2004. I always thought there was way too much sports programming on WWL and of course, I think sports are boring. This station was very helpful though in relaying information during and in the aftermath of Katrina. While I was with my family in Bossier City, Louisiana, they were wondering if they could find out what was going on in New Orleans. So after sunset, I was able to tune in to WWL and they were all amazed.

940 kHz WYLD-I never really listened to this station for any lengthy amount of time.

990 kHz WGSO-I could only catch this station sometimes and only on higher-end radios such as a car radio. I remember it being a business format. I also remember it carried the audio feed to WWL-TV newscasts.

1010 kHz WCKW-I never really listened to this station during that time and it was many times difficult to catch anyway.

1060 kHz WLNO-I did listen to this station quite a bit after coming to Christ in July 2004. In fact, it was on this station at some point in the Fall of 2004 that I was listening to Irwin Baxter’s program about the end times and it was through his program that the roman catholic church was exposed. He stated that the roman catholic church is indeed the great harlot mentioned in the 17th Chapter of Revelation. I didn’t take this too well since I was going to a catholic school at the time and because of my young and inexperienced Christian faith, this was a factor in my backsliding.

1230 kHz WBOK-I don’t ever recall listening to this station during that time, nor do I think the radios I had were sensitive enough to receive it.

1280 kHz WODT-I never had any reason to listen to this station at the time because it was a sports station and as I’ve mentioned before I think sports are boring.

1350 kHz WSMB (now WWWL)-I listened to this station extensively starting in the Spring of 2004 until some time in 2005. Besides WTIX/WIST I think this station was most adversely affected by Katrina. I initially started by listening to Coast to Coast AM on this station. Then I had a mental breakdown in June of 2004. I started listening to the radio again in the Fall of 2004. I remember shows such as “Dig In” with Chef Duke (the theme song was cool and catchy), The Phil Hendrie Show, and others. I listened to this station the most in April and May of 2005, then later secured my first job and didn’t have as much time for radio.

1400 kHz WFPR-I don’t recall even knowing about this station until I was doing my research for this piece.

1540 kHz KGLA (now WFNO)-I don’t speak or understand Spanish, so I never listened to this station.

1560 kHz WSLA-I’ve only caught this a handful of times during this period and when I did, it was almost always sports, so I quickly lost interest.

I could also list the FM stations but they change formats much more frequently than their AM counterparts. In my mid to late teens, I was more interested in talk radio than music radio because while Pop and Punk/Indie music was pretty good back then, there weren’t too many stations in my area that would play it. Most of the stations in my area that were supposed to play Top 40 music (including Pop and Punk/Indie) instead were playing more Rap music. And Rap music got stupid some time around late 2003 or early 2004. Amazingly around this time, Country music was pretty good, but I would listen to that genre on a station closer to me. Unfortunately now, and since about 2013, Country music has become stupid. The only current Pop artist that I am even remotely familiar with is Billie Eilish and while she’s very genuine, she can be weird at times, but maybe I am no longer into what is considered trendy. I never really was. In the late 2000s and throughout the 2010s decade Punk/Indie music was awesome but I’m ashamed to admit that I’m not familiar with any of their current hits. Rap, these days, is sometimes stupid yet some of it is funny too. I am most familiar with Contemporary Christian Music these days and I do indeed like it, which is amazing because there was a time I didn’t like it, yes even after becoming a Christian and years afterward. The genre of music that I liked most in my mid to late teen years was New Age because it did indeed help me early on as a writer. I have recently stopped listening to it because I am a Christian and such music hinders my relationship with Christ.

Okay, enough about my music tastes, this piece is supposed to be about how radio broadcasting in New Orleans was ruined after Katrina and has not recovered at all.

I wish there were some stations in the New Orleans market that carried talk shows about politics, history, science, technology, culture, the arts, literature, health, and other intelligent topics. And have them from diverse viewpoints, not just one. Sure there is WWNO which carries NPR for most of its broadcast cycle, but NPR is way too biased these days, unfortunately. I wish there were more stations to choose from. And I wish there weren’t so many sports stations, especially since there is hardly any other type of programming. New Orleans is a very culture-rich city and is the perfect home for visual artists, musicians, writers, and thinkers. The City is also a wonderful place for those in the medical and technology sectors. So I think the broadcasters owe good radio content to the people of New Orleans and those in the surrounding communities. I will admit that a lot of people do indeed love The New Orleans Saints and I certainly would want those people to have a medium for all topics concerning their team. We all know that there is a whole lot more to New Orleans than just sports. While I think sports are boring and pointless, I get that they make many people happy. Of course, these same people become irate if a bad call is made or their team does poorly, so I don’t see exactly how it makes them so happy. However, I’m all for the policy of to each his/her own. That’s the former Libertarian in me talking, I’ll admit that I still espouse many Libertarian ideals but since about 2019, I have been fiercely Moderate. And I’ve been all over the political spectrum throughout my life. I will also say that Christ not only helps form my current political views but He trumps all of my political views. With all that being said, I think that those like me ought to have a broadcast medium to cover our interests, I mean we once did in the days before Katrina, at least to some degree. Why can’t we have it again?

I know that I’m not that important but maybe there is a reader of this blog who will see this piece. And maybe he or she has plenty of influence and will use that influence to change the way radio broadcasting is done, not only in New Orleans but in all markets or at least the ones that are lacking.

It definitely would be nice to have the programming that was on par with that of WTIX-AM circa 2003.

I won’t hold my breath for it though.

I know that Internet Radio and streaming, in general, has probably taken a good bit of revenue from analog terrestrial radio, but I don’t see how programming on the latter in New Orleans has not yet recovered from Katrina when so many aspects of life in that City things have. I know there are others out there like myself, albeit somewhat few and far between. And it just seems we cannot band together.

For now, I have found other ways to enrich my mind and learn about what interests me. Unfortunately, it is rarely through local radio.

I guess this, therefore, concludes my piece on how radio broadcasting in New Orleans was ruined by Hurricane Katrina.

I hope that you, the reader, have been informed, enlightened, and maybe even entertained.

May God richly bless you.

Back to “Articles”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s