War for the Soul of Pacifica Radio

Reason has a story from a former insider


If you don’t know who or what Pacifica is, it was started by folks who refused to fight in a World War II (aka Pacifists). Prior to Pearl Harbor, there was significant opposition to entering the war in Europe. Joe Kennedy (father of JFK) in particular had no issue with Germany bombing London, given his Irish Catholic heritage. The response to Pearl Harbor pretty much crushed the isolationist movement, and Pacifica Radio didn’t come out into the light until the country was recovered from the war.

In the 1950s, FM radios were a quaint experiment. Until transistors and circuit boards shrunk the size and cost in the 1960s, FM radio was a niche market. AM radio saw it as a threat and hoped it would go away (like they did with the Internet and Sirius/XM). It wasn’t hard to get an FM license – Pacifica’s home base is in Oakland, California, very close to where Michael Savage got his PhD and lives.

I’ve never lived in a place that has a Pacifica Station

KPFA/KPFB-FM – Oakland, California
KPFK-FM – Los Angeles, California
KPFT-FM – Houston, Texas
KPFW-FM – Washington, DC
WBAI-FM – New York City, NY

The last station is the focus of the civil war. It’s a station in the commercial FM band. It’s Class B which means it only covers New York City solidly and doesn’t get solidly to Connecticut, Eastern Long Island and Philadelphia – but even so is probably worth $75 million. Pacifica is broke. Seriously out of money. Selling or leasing the station might allow the rest to survive. Sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. The people who gave WBAI money or volunteered over the years don’t see it that way.

The Board of Pacifica has fired the woman they hired to save it. She refuses to leave, people are changing locks to shut people out.

At some point, Pacifica morphed from wanting to improve America to wanting to destroy it. The Prima donna Amy Goodman sucked the place dry to build the Democracy Now! Empire that fuels the Hate America First! Campaign – the show is carried on a number of College stations in addition to the more fringe NPR affiliates (Amy is big on Native American reservations)

While their programming was eccentric to say the least – a lot of it was live and truly unique. Al Lewis (who you might remember as Grandpa Munster on TV) was a strident socialist organizer and had a weekly radio show until his death in 2006.

I believe firmly in not trying to shut up people you disagree with. Listen so you know what they’re going to do before they do it.

You already voted!
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3 Responses to War for the Soul of Pacifica Radio

  1. CC1s121LrBGT says:

    I was shocked that you didn’t list WMNF Tampa. Turns out is just “affiliated” with Pacifica. http://pacificanetwork.org/?page_id=49

    I actually caught a few of Al Lewis’s radio shows in the late 1990s. I was amazed by his socialist politics, his radio voice that sounded like he was teaching little Eddie Munster on the TV show, and his deep knowledge of hip hop music.

    Of course, WBAI is famous for the Supreme Court case where the supremes ruled that they should not have aired George Carlin’s dirty words.

    Likewise, KPFT in Houston is famous for a terrorist blowing up their transmitter in the early 1970s… last I knew, it was the only terrorist incident where a terrorist in the US blew up a radio transmitter of a licensed radio station. Not sure if it was pro-Vietnam war activists or some other radical conservative group.

    These stations generally have block programming. A few hours at a time of specialize music then a few hours of political shows.

  2. Nidster says:

    Well I can certainly sympathize with some elements of the above account of events. First of all, count me as one those quirky, dis-illusioned, patriots who really Hate the Way America is Being Destroyed Under the Current Criminally Insane Regime!

    As for the protests against WWII there is a case to made for the Banksters screwing a bunch of nations, which then led to the war. The only thing I can think of off-hand that was good about WWII was that it taught a very important lesson, which is that because Germany ditched the Banksters, issued their own national, debt-free currency, and together with the typical Germanic intelligence, work ethic and other things, built a huge, almost unassailable war machine in about 10 years time, and which took the rest of the developed nations (except Japan and Italy) about 4-5 years to subdue it into submission.

    So, maybe those folks running the Board of Pacifica could get a clue, but I doubt it. Let ’em go broke.

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