KLSP, a radio station with one turntable, six employees and a $48 weekly payroll, has limited reach over this patch of swampy farmland and razor wire northwest of Baton Rouge. It is meant to be that way.
The station director and most of the D.J.’s are convicted murderers. Most of its 5,100 listeners are serving life sentences at the Louisiana State Penitentiary here. The 100-foot metal pole that transmits the station’s F.C.C.-approved signal — a relatively weak but consistent 100 watts — rises from a grassy knoll behind death row.
Death row, home to 83 men, is where KLSP-FM (91.7), which prison officials say is the nation’s only licensed prison radio station, finds its most dedicated audience and inspiration for its core mission: spreading the word of Jesus (and an occasional message from the warden) to men doomed to die behind bars.
Louisiana should free KLSP from its prison walls: syndicate the programming, stream it, podcast it! This could be the biggest thing since Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison. Louisiana could direct the profits back to the people of Louisiana – even victims of Hurricane Katrina. It could be a more productive way to let inmates repay their debt to their victims and society.
Hell, I’d listen! This could be big!