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Active Radio: Pacifica’s Brash Experiment (Commerce and Mass Culture)

ISBN: 9780816631575
Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press
Publication Date: 1999-04-01
Number of pages: 200
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  • Regular price $19.95

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In April 1949, KPFA in Berkeley, California went on the air. From the beginning, the station broadcast an utterly new combination of political commentary and cultural discussion that reflected founder Lewis Hill's vision of a radio station dedicated to creative expression and dissent. In this fascinating account, Jeff Land tells the heroic story of the Pacifica radio network, exploring not only its role in the culture and politics of the postwar world, but also the practical model it pioneered for liberatory alternatives to commercial mass media.A network of five stations (in Berkeley, Los Angeles, Houston, New York City, and Washington, D.C.), Pacifica has been a participant in nearly every progressive political movement of the past fifty years. The network has risked the loss of its licenses, had its transmitters bombed, seen its personnel arrested and jailed, and made errors of judgment and taste. Yet it has pioneered a number of media innovations, listener sponsorship and call-in radio among them. It has also made history: on Pacifica stations, Seymour Hersch broke the My Lai story; the FBI's illegal internal surveillance program was first publicly revealed; the Firesign Theater gave its first performance; and Bob Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind" made its public debut.Using tape archives of radio programs, interviews with participants, and unpublished material on Pacifica, Land chronicles the turmoils and triumphs of this radio network that served as a model for National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System. Rich in anecdote, Active Radio is both an engaging account of Pacifica's past and an assessment of its significance to postwar culture in the United States.

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