In the public radio landscape, the Pacifica network stations stand out as innovators of diverse and controversial broadcasting. Pacifica's fifty years of struggle to define itself as against social and political conformity began with a group of young men and women who hoped to change the world with a credo of nonviolence. Pacifica Radio traces the cultural and political currents that shaped the first listener-supported alternative radio station. Rooted in wartime pacifism and free-speech ideals, Pacifica flourished in the ...
In the public radio landscape, the Pacifica network stations stand out as innovators of diverse and controversial broadcasting. Pacifica's fifty years of struggle to define itself as against social and political conformity began with a group of young men and women who hoped to change the world with a credo of nonviolence. Pacifica Radio traces the cultural and political currents that shaped the first listener-supported alternative radio station. Rooted in wartime pacifism and free-speech ideals, Pacifica flourished in the harsh climate of the Cold War. The visionary behind it was Lewis Hill, a conscientious objector who set out to build pacifist institutions that would promote cooperation among individuals and nations. Matthew Lasar's account of Pacifica's turbulent history opens with lively portraits of Hill and the group of brash and creative people from the pacifist community he mobilized in Berkeley, California, to establish the Pacifica Foundation. The radio station, their first project, was to be a forum for radical dialogue and a staging area for widespread conversion to pacifism. The fledgling FM station, KPFA, took to the air in 1949 with stunningly unconventional programs. Americo Chiarito's music show, for instance, mixed classical, folk, and jazz; no one in the Bay Area -- or anywhere else -- had heard anything like it on radio. Nor were there precedents for the information programs -- Alan Watts's discussions of Eastern philosophies, Pauline Kael's film reviews, Kenneth Rexroth's commentaries. Lasar recounts how, in the context of McCarthyism, Pacifica's identification with pacifism and radical dialogue gave way to a broader defense of free speech, emphasizing therights of individuals whose opinions were suppressed elsewhere. Lasar shows how Pacifica's pioneering experiments in "alternative" radio exacerbated staff conflicts at KPFA and the new stations, KPFK in Los Angeles and WBAI in New York City, jeopardizing the network. In the 1990s context of identity politics and dwindling support for public media, these struggles are by no means resolved. Despite its identity crises and funding worries, the Pacifica network remains the only independent, nonprofit network in the country. It originated in a perhaps overly optimistic view of what public dialogue could achieve; it continues to provide a means for discussing the complex problems of contemporary society and renewing the hope that we can face them as a community.
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Philadelphia. 1998. Temple University Press. 1st Edition. Very Good In Dustjacket. ISBN: 1566396603. 277 pages. hardcover. FROM THE PUBLISHER-Pacifica Radio traces the cultural and political currents that shaped America's first listener-supported, public radio network, which began with KPFA-FM in Berkeley. For fifty years, Pacifica has introduced diverse and controversial programs, while struggling against social and political conformity. ' 'In this expanded paperback edition, Lasar provides a postscript ('A Crisis of Containment') that examines the external pressures and organizational problems within the Pacifica Foundation that led to the police shutdown of network station KPFA. Lasar, an admittedly pro-KPFA partisan in the conflict, gives a first-person account, calling it 'the worst crisis in the history of community radio.'. inventory #27018.
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