Inmate-produced radio station broadcasts beyond prison walls

LIMON, Colo. — Herbert Alexander watches sound waves jump across the computer screen in front of him, his shaved head partially covered by headphones. He edits a short audio report on incarcerated fathers, a subject he knows intimately.

His two sons will soon hear his voice and his story as Alexander, 46, an inmate at Limon Correctional Facility, prepares a segment for Inside Wire: Colorado Prison Radio, billed as the first radio station to be produced inside of a prison and available to the outside world.

Other radio stations created in prisons typically broadcast only within the walls of their prisons, but Inside Wire, which premiered March 1, reaches all 21 state prisons and beyond, online and through app, making it the first of its kind in the country, organizers said.

“In spaces where isolation continues, this medium can reduce that,” said Ryan Conarro, managing director and program director of Inside Wire and creative producer of the University of Denver Prison Arts Initiative, which oversees the program. in partnership with the Colorado Department of Corrections.

“Our listeners can feel heard and feel supported, even when they’re very isolated, no matter what space they’re in,” added Conarro, whose band offers live music programs. therapeutic and educational arts to incarcerated people, from full-fledged theatrical productions to the “With(in)” podcast to a current affairs publication written by inmates.

The inner courtyard of the Limon Correctional Facility in Limon, Colorado.Rachel Woolf for NBC News

Inside Wire – a collaboration between three Colorado prisons: Limon, Sterling Correctional Facility and Denver Women’s Correctional Facility – broadcasts 24/7 to other prison complexes via CCTV. Audiences can stream the station online or through the Inside Wire app and listen to its mix of music, newscasts, interviews with residents and staff members, and original audio features. All programming is recorded and reviewed by corrections staff before being broadcast; so far, nothing has been rejected.

Limon, about 90 miles southeast of Denver, forms the core of the sprawling project. Alexander and the rest of the six-man production team work in a carpeted classroom with a small sound booth in one corner next to a long table lined with computers. Family photos and comic strips are pasted on some screens and walls; a microwave and coffee maker are by the door.


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