NEW ORLEANS — As the state starts to recover from Hurricane Ida and the devastation across southeast Louisiana, WWOZ is aiming to be more than just a radio station.
"When anything happens whether it's a hurricane or coronavirus we always think that people need to have an escape," said Beth Arroyo Utterback, WWOZ
That escape, according to general manager Beth Arroyo Utterback, comes in the form of New Orleans music and its healing quality at a time when we all need it.
"You know, i think there is really something to be said about music therapy because i had some people during this say "the first thing Ido is turn on wwoz and I just like start smiling and dancing before I get ready for my day..whatever that is...whether it's meeting an insurance adjuster or waiting on the line for fema," said Beth Arroyo Utterback, WWOZ
The listener-supported, volunteer-programmed radio station is known locally and all over the world but during the storm, the music stopped although just briefly.
"Our transmitter on canal street was down but we have remote broadcast backs..that we take out of town, so within two hours we were able to be up and streaming through our pre-recorded programs…and it was a touchstone for people because you had to be informed and listen to what was going on..and hear all the reports but you also just needed like a moment to get away from that our couple hours to get away from that," said Beth Arroyo Utterback, WWOZ
While the station was streaming online quickly the transmitter to get WWOZ on the radio was damaged but they were able to use a backup on the west bank. Shortly after they brought back live on-air DJs while also keeping the music going.
"As soon as we could let our host come in live so they could start telling their stories of exactly if they evacuated or what happened at their house or what happened in their neighborhood and I think people felt we connected.." said Beth Arroyo Utterback, WWOZ.
The stories connecting listeners but also the music, drowning out the stress of the storm served as a reminder of what is so special about this place.
"I think it's good for your soul and I think music from New Orleans specifically resonates with so many people around the world for so many different reasons because it's tells unique stories. It's the music it's the culture it's the food..and that will be ok..like we've gotten through things before we are going to get through this just like we will get through coronavirus we will be able to have festivals again and that's what WWOZ is here to remind people about," said Beth Arroyo Utterback, WWOZ.