I found some red apples at the supermarket on my way home today.
The apples reminded me of the radio station in Yamamoto-cho, the little town in Miyagi where I was a few weeks ago. The radio station started out as a disaster information broadcast for the people of Yamamoto-cho almost a week after the earthquake.
Yamamoto-cho is apparently known for their delicious strawberries, apples, and surf clams. But because the tsunami swept away almost all the greenhouses that grew strawberries and the surf clams, the only local product that was left were the apples. And so they named the station Ringo Radio because the apples (ringo) survived the tsunami.
This station actually consists of a couple of folding tables that are placed in the lobby of the town hall. So you can see and here when they are broadcasting. We were always tuned in to this station at the soup kitchen and there were times we heard the phone ringing or someone calling out a name on air, which we all thought was hilarious! But that was just part of this radio's charm.
The radio station became quite widely known and many famous people have come to raise awareness or to volunteer. But the main DJ, who is a former broadcaster who now lives in Yamamoto-cho, also interviews local people and various volunteers.
In this photo a dear friend, who I worked with at the soup kitchen, was being interviewed about her week here and what we were doing. And the rest of us were around the table cheering her on, since it's on live. The DJ has a blog that he updates almost everyday and he actually posted a picture of all of us there that day! (See here.)
The radio was recently changed from a disaster broadcast to a regular broadcast of Yamamoto-cho. And I hear that they will be getting their own prefab housing as a studio at the end of this month. No more ringing or voices in the background. But I'm sure the radio station will play an important part in the recovery of the area through their local information and encouraging programs.
"We will rise again, like the sun rises every morning." (Ringo Radio Motto)
(There is a story behind this photo of a poem written on this cardboard here.)