Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xii

Congressional hearings in 1926 found legislators debating federal regulation of radio. Of urgent concern was securing a stable means of financing the programming in the five-year-old industry. Since 1921 income from the sale of radiolas themselves had subsidized the cost of the broadcasts. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xiv

There are many people to acknowledge with heartfelt thanks. I wish to thank University of Oregon professors Carl Bybee, Julia Lesage, and Howard Brick for committing themselves to this project when it was a dissertation. Timely suggestions and gentle prods from all of them paved the way for its completion. ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-10

Active Radio begins with the early history of broadcasting in the United States, outlining the circumstances in which a small, powerful group of corporations came to control the vast majority of “our” radio channels. How did commercial stations succeed in convincing both the government and early listeners that they, not the educational, religious, and civic broadcasters, best served “the public interest”? ...

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1. The Rise of Corporate Broadcasting

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pp. 11-26

As the radiola craze swept the nation in the roaring twenties, corporate and educational broadcasters struggled to chart the destiny of the new medium. Both groups looked to Congress to regulate the distribution of licenses and keep some order in the chaos of rapid expansion. ...

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2. Lew Hill’s Passion and the Origins of Pacifica

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pp. 27-38

The ideal of a world without war led to Lewis Hill’s involvement in the movement for revolutionary nonviolence during and after World War II, and subsequently to his founding of Pacifica. Long associated with religious conviction and individual witness, pacifist ideology and strategy underwent a dramatic transformation in the twentieth century. ...

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3. Listener-Sponsored Radicalism on KPFA

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pp. 39-62

Pacifica was not the first manifestly political radio venture. In the mid-1920s, efforts to establish a labor-based station in Chicago bore fruit for a short while. Edward Nockels, secretary of the Chicago Federation of Labor, used organized labor’s contacts in Washington, D.C., to receive a license for station WCFL, which he imagined would be the flagship ...

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4. The Development of the Pacifica Network

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pp. 63-90

A 1948 prospectus seeking donations for KPFA promised donors that “after an initial period of stabilization,” commercial revenue would support the station. More than that, “its income will eventually create a surplus providing for its own expansion or the establishment of other stations.”1 ...

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5. Free Speech Radio

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pp. 91-112

A dynamic and radical version of the First Amendment stands at the heart of Pacifica’s practices. Pacifica fused the Anglo-American libertarian creed of dissent as the lifeblood of democracy with a romantic notion of expression as the unique utterance of the soul. With roots in Emerson and Whitman, this aesthetic attitude has in fact shaped the majority of the programs in Pacifica’s history. ...

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6. WBAI and the Explosion of Live Radio

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pp. 113-132

By the early sixties, the three stations in the Pacifica network had a coherent, if eclectic, schedule: music, poetry, and drama, lectures and discussions, and a wide array of cultural and political commentary. This challenging aural environment earned the network abiding loyalty from small, dedicated audiences in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and New York. ...

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7. Beloved Community

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pp. 133-142

A student of broadcasting history might wonder what James Rorty, vociferous critic of early corporate media, would have thought of the crisis at WBAI. In the early 1930s, educators, civic activists, and church leaders watched in dismay as the Federal Radio Commission stripped the broadcast licenses from their stations and, under the rubric of “public interest,” gave them to commercial broadcasters (see chapter 1). ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 143-148

This book has not attempted to disguise its admiration for Pacifica’s accomplishments. Neither has it narrated a triumphalist version of Pacifica’s history. Little in Pacifica’s opening the airwaves to controversy, erudition, and diversity has been simple. Lack of financial support, internal political and personal struggle, and constant surveillance by political enemies, both within the government and without, have marked Pacifica’s history. ...

Notes

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pp. 149-160

Bibliography

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pp. 161-168

Pacifica Programs

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pp. 169-172

Index, Image Plates

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pp. 173-180