This radio station is run by prisoners for prisoners

I’d never heard of 106.5 FM The Tank before I stumbled on this article profiling a low-power prison radio station outside of Livingston, Texas. This is the official voice of the 3,000-inmate Allan B. Polunsky Unit.

Here’s a quote from The Marshall Project, which specializes in nonprofit journalism about criminal justice in the US.

The Tank is so low wattage you can only hear it for a minute or two after you leave the parking lot. But the programming is as plentiful and varied as any commercial station on the outside, with shows covering everything from heavy metal to self-improvement. It’s all recorded in a studio hidden deep inside the prison and stocked full of equipment, most of which was donated by churches and religious groups. It doesn’t have the fame or following of San Quentin’s “Ear Hustle” podcast, but The Tank allows men on one of the most restrictive death rows in the country to have a voice that reaches beyond their cells. Usually — just like in most lockups — the prisoners at Polunsky are not allowed to write letters to each other. But for the radio station, the warden carved out an exception, allowing them to pass along essays and poems for the staff chaplains to deliver to Hozaifeh and his fellow DJs, affording the most isolated men in Texas a rare chance to be part of the prison community.

Here’s a sample.

And this sample is very, very intense. It’s from an inmate the day before he was executed.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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