Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Incarceration Station

Angola Prison has had an illustrious but sad history in music. Many Blues artists were imprisoned here. Alan Lomax even recorded some of them while still serving their sentances: Bukka White, Harvey Knox, Charles Neville, Leadbelly, Jack Dupree, Robert Pete Williams, and many others. Several albums have been cut as well: Angola Prison Spirituals, Angola Prisoners Blues, Prison Worksongs and others.

KLSP is the only FCC licensed radio station to operate from within a prison by inmate DJs. KLSP 91.7 Algola, Louisiana is known as the "Incarceration Station." It operates at 100 watts and reaches approximately 6,000 people including staff, inmates, visitors and parts of the surrounding community. They signed on August 12, 1986.
Site here:

Initially KLSP was envisioned as a emergency communication system. The Prison officials wanted to communicate to whole the inmate population simultaneously. An FM radio station appeared to be the right answer. The implementation was a little different. The Angola Education Foundation arranged for inmates to become DJ's and to entertain the masses with gospel, jazz, blues, rock-n-roll, country, and oldies.

But the original purpose worked in later emergencies. During the flood of 1997, Warden Burl Cain broadcast nightly over KLSP. The evacuation of over 3,000 inmates occurred without incident or injury.

I am told that the prison administration is actively seeking avenues to enhance capabilities of KLSP-97.1 FM. Thsi probably means "We want to make money."