Monday, November 28, 2011

brief update

Hi Folks, Just a short note as I'm soon going to catch a ride back to Utopia. Well, the microwave link works! I just finished aiming my homemade antenna here at the COPINH office, and the link seems to be working with good quality. I'll try to send pictures soon...The Windows computer here doesn't understand the most basic stuff. Hey the food is good, the weather is kinda cold but good, and it's great to be working here with friends passing through constantly. These people are enduring very hard times right now...It's so good to be here! Peace, Bill

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Back to Utopia

Back With My People in La Esperanza

Outside of being a night and day of short naps, this year's trip to La Esperanza came off really smoothly...With some novel twists like the overdubbed version of “Hairspray” that was playing on the TV in the bus terminal in San Pedro Sula, and seeing the motorized India-style 3 wheeled rickshaws at work in the outskirts of San Pedro. Coming up the mountains in the bus, I had a wonderful lunch, in sharp contrast to the bare-minimum “breakfast” provided by Continental. As the bus travels, vendors get on for a stretch or hold up their wares on poles to be bought through the windows. When I got to La Esperanza, Compa Neto was waiting for me at the bus station, so I was delivered to Utopia almost immediately, where there was a training session for healthcare providers going on. Doña Josefina scrounged up some dinner, while I encountered various old friends who had come in for the meetings. It was raining and blustery, but such a relief to be away from droning engines, hearing the sounds of the mountains and the gentle lilt of Lenca Spanish.

Next morning, unpacking my bags and turning on the equipment I'd brought, I was relieved to find very little shipping damage. The TSA screeners apparently didn't even open the equipment luggage, so things stayed firmly packed.

My goal in this trip is to install a new microwave link from the studio to the transmitter, which will bypass a serious problem in the current system. We now have huge power fluctuations in the AM signal caused by some sub-sonic noise and also interference from another nearby FM station, so right now, we can't run the AM at full power. The used microwave stuff I bought on eBay isn't the current model, but very well made, so it should be reliable and provide the most transparent relay of the program.

One pleasant surprise is the addition of "Democracy Now" in Spanish to the evening newscast on Radio Guarajambala/La Voz Lenca. In the afternoon, they have a environmental program with breaks for music of local conjunto music, recorded by the station. It's a very careful mix of entertainment, education and news programming.

Monday and Tuesday, there were meetings of the Coordinación General of COPINH here at Utopia, which is so cool, because I got to see my friends from all over Lenca territory who came together in this one place. And also it was very special to be introduced to the assembly with glowing words for my work over the years from Berta Cáseres and Salvador Zúñiga and have a long oración/prayer of welcome from Doña Pascualita. It's so beautiful here in the quiet mountains...sort of a jarring juxtaposition with the struggles of these people, against poverty and now increasing repression.

One of the delegates here, from a remote village, asked me if I had knew any organization which could provide assistance with housing construction in his community. I'm thinking Habitat or some similar organization. So if anyone out there wants to do some research, I've got his contact information.

I'll be posting more as trips into La Esperanza permit. Vaya pues! Bill

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Omar Rodriguez

Tuesday afternoon, Omar Rodriguez died. I only met him once, but that encounter has never left me. As Felix said on La Resistencia last night, Omar Rodriguez lived radio. He literally did. He was the proprietor of Radio Gualcho in Tegucigalpa in the modest colonia of 21 de Octubre. His house was filled with old electronic stuff, and crammed away in the back was his cluttered office, tiny studio and homemade transmitter. He had perpetual problems with that transmitter, and on the day I was there in 2002, he was getting only about 10 minutes of programming before it would conk out, and he'd hafta go out and fiddle with it. But people listened, because Omar had a message and Omar had the courage to tell it like he saw it. He was a Socialist, a revolutionary, a writer, an editor, a songwriter, and of course a communicator. Omar wrote books and songs to address issues he was passionate about. He sold me a little book he edited, “No al ALCA” (We say NO to the Central America Free Trade Agreement), filled with arguments against Honduras's entrance into of the positions that got President Mel Zelaya ousted in last year's coup. This kind of thing him into trouble with the Golpistas, but he persevered when almost all other stations have caved in. He sometimes didn't have enough money to pay the power bill, but some friend would come through to keep Radio Gaulcho going. How could I not love a man like that? In recent years, he played “El Condor Pasa” a lot on Radio Gaulcho...It's fitting music to mark his passing, but it seems, like Joe Hill, his voice will carry on even stronger now.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What´s happening

Hi Folks,

Sorry to be so few-and-far-between with my blog entries and other internet tasks. Usually it's been easy for me to spend relatively lots of time online, but this trip there's a more concentrated bunch of stuff to do at Utopia, where there's no internet access.

It probably hasn't made it into the outside media, but the big news here has our people very angry and I'm sorry to say that the U.S. isn't shining too brightly on this either. The version, as I get it from La Voz Lenca.....The golpista (golpista: from "golpe del estado" or "coup de'ta") Sr. Facusé [Facussee], a weathy palm oil/land owner has a vitual fiefdom in the south of Honduras [right where Radio Zacate Grande was just installed}. This includes a private militia funded in part by the World Bank (i.e. the U.S.) which recently massacred some campesinos who were venturing onto public land that Facusé had kind of appropriated. This is just the most recent incident in a long string of attacks by the golpistas against the people of Honduras. The people are still demonstrating, organizing, and educating in resistance, and La Voz Lenca, now getting out to Sta. Elena, San Juan de La Paz and other points far away, is a major voice in the struggle.

A major aspect of the campaign is programming against the state, and violence of men toward women and children. There's also a major emphasis on tolerance, especially focussing on LGBT's. Programs focussed on women, young people, sustainable agriculture, politics, and progressive religion among others, are on the air every day. Sign off comes at 9:00 p.m., right after the program of national resistance from Radio Globo. which you can hear's on the R. Globo website and streams live every night from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Central. It'll give you a good feeling for the depth of emotion here right now.

One day a rainbow came so close, I could have run right out and gotten the gold.

Here´s a photo of the open-pollinated corn which the people here have grown for centuries, and which they so much fear losing if GMO corn is introduced, along with lawsuits from Monsanto if the pollen should drift onto the native corn.

Well, the work is going well....We've been transmitting every day for over a week, and people are listening from all over the Lenca area. I'm trying to get the old transmitter fixed up to act as a backup, meanwhile improving the new installation as much as possible.

Thanks for your support which has made this all possible.

Friday, November 19, 2010

El Punto Dulce!

El Punto Dulce! The "sweet spot" of resonance is found...

First, an explanation... To get the show (well, the COMPPA crew) on the road (to get the new transmitter up and running), I just quickly put it on the shelf, connected up the power cable, the feedline to the antenna, the audio input, and a ground wire, turned it on and ran with it.

Reflected power is a measure of how much power is not going out of the antenna, but instead reflected back down to the transmitter. This happens when the tower is not exactly tuned to the feedline...50j0 in electrical terms. That temporary transmitter setup was working OK, but there was about 45 watts (out of 1,000) being relected. There's a snazzy monitoring circuit in the transmitter which tirns it off whenever the reflected power gets too high. While that 45 watts was passable without any program on the air, in AM broadcasting, that transmitted sound adds to the power being fed to the antenna. We were finding that loud sounds actually shut down the transmitter!

So, this morning, I changed the tuning on some of the coils in the Antenna Tuning Unit...a metal box at the bottom of the antenna tower. In this I had guidance of data from previous trips, arrived at with lots of help from Grey Haertig and a generous donation from the folks at Kintronic Labs. My second trial hit on the "sweet spot"...the point of no measurable reflection...How sweet for the transmitter!

Now we should be able to accommondate anything that comes down the tube from the studio. There's still terrible distortion especially in the night, especially with the "Resistencia" feed that comes from Radio Globo. It's unclear whether that's due to operator error, some type of interference -- intentional or otherwise -- or a mal-adjustment of the limiter at the studio -- or a combination of those -- but the sound is bien feo, actually unintelligible at times. So, um, there's more work to do....

And that was written on Wednesday. This is Friday and with some work it sounds a lot better and is better installed. Some pictures..........

Monday, November 15, 2010

Watts of power

Hi Folks,

Good news! The new transmitter is on the air, sounding very good and getting out well. We installed it temporarily yesterday and ran it at full 1000 watts of power...something that was hard to do with the old transmitter...and dangerous to it because of the instability of the line voltage. So the new one sounds very nice and reaches far...Yesterday morning Timo and Luz and the crew from COMPPA, traveling to Guatemala, passed through Sigatepeque, Taulabe, Lago de Yahoa and were able to hear the signal as far as Santa Barbara. That´s a good deal farther than we´ve had reports from before. Over the coming days and weeks we should be getting reports from El Salvador to the southwest and La Paz in the southeast, but there´s no question that your support has had great results. Every mile of increased radius adds many square miles of land with many more potential listeners. Very important when the station is bringing a whole different viewpoint than any other station they can hear.

So the trip coming down went well. Airport security has increased, so anyone setting off the metal detector (like my prosthesis always does) is subjected to a full body search by hand...not a pleasant experience...but at least it doesn´t delay the trip. Things here are a bit repressed, but the COPINHistas are in good shape and united in their struggle, but happy. Lots of people from all over were here for another media production module given by COMPPA, and it was so wonderful to be greeted with hugs and kisses from all my friends from all over the huge Lenca territory.

I´m doing well...the food is great, the weather is cold but beautiful, there´s lots of cool kids all around. I´ll try to stay in contact, but my internet access is a bit limited by the 4 mile walk to the office. I´ll send pictures next time.

Peace, Bill

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

La Voz Lenca Presentation this Sunday

Honduran Solidarity Radio Project Informational Presentation
with musical assistance from Andy Assad

Find out about the huge cooperative effort behind AM radio station La Voz Lenca in La Esperanza, Honduras...

When: This coming Sunday, October 24th, 2:30 p.m.
Where: The Urbana Free Library Auditorium
What: Bill Taylor will be showing a short video about the construction of the station, followed by refreshments.
Sponsored by: The PRIMARY COMMUNICATIONS PROJECT, a locally based, non-profit organization.
La Voz Lenca is a sister station to WRFU, Radio Free Urbana in the Independent Media Center, the IMC, in downtown Urbana

The Voice of the Indigenous Lenca People of Western Honduras. La Voz Lenca is one of only three high power AM radio stations in this hemisphere wholly owned and operated by indigenous people. It presents the Lenca's positions on national and local issues, educates, entertains and advocates for underserved people in its region of service. It was built in 2007 with a massive cooperative effort between the Lencas and international solidarity from community media advocacy supporters in Mexico and right here in Illinois as well as businesses which contributed equipment for the construction. Bill Taylor is heading back to Honduras in a few weeks to help install equipment upgrades.

Come to find out more about the project and to find out how you can get involved!

If you'd like to help out with this event or would like more information, call Bill Taylor at 217 649-9085 or email We would greatly appreciate it if you would forward this email to other lists and to any of your contacts who might be interested.

This program is not sponsored by the Urbana Free Library.