Totally Tricked-Out Communications Van Repurposed from Greenpeace to Boost Local Radio Station’s Disaster-Response Capacity

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September 6, 2011; Source: Marin Independent Journal | Thank goodness for activists with many interests. They can cause great things to occur. In this case, radio expert Richard Dillman was the connection. Having tricked out a 1990 Ford van for Greenpeace’s intense and sophisticated communications needs during actions, Dillman realized that when it was time to trade it in, the van would be just the right piece of equipment to help Marin County, California radio station KWMR communicate with the county’s residents during a disaster.

Jim Fox, the chief of operations for the Inverness Public Utility District, told the Marin Independent Journal that “one of the great concerns in any kind of a disaster is getting information out to the general public, and we really use the local radio station for that kind of stuff…In a disaster, if [the station’s] transmitter is down and the power’s out, this van will give us the capacity to go on the air and relay whatever information we have.” For his part, Dillman, —a communications engineer for the West Marin Disaster Council and a “transmitter wrangler” for KWMR—is glad to have brokered the contribution from Greenpeace, which was valued at $100,000. He told the Journalthat he “wasted the flower of my middle age in that van.” Dillman credits some of that van time with preventing the test-launch of a few nuclear missiles. Quite a legacy, Mr. Dillman.—Ruth McCambridge