KPFK more History
1949 KPFA/Pacifica goes on the air April 15
1959 KPFK goes on the air. Lectures & classical music are the mainstay of the programming, Terry Drinkwater is the first manager.
1961 KPFK moves to North Hollywood.
1961 KPFK wins George Foster Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting
1962 KPFK broadcasts women’s history profiles of Dorothy Healey and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn–programs that are later used in SISS Hearings charging Pacifica is communist infiltrated.
1962 The FCC withholds the license renewals of KPFA, KPFB, and KPFK pending its investigation into “communist affiliations.” Pacifica was never ultimately cited in any of these or subsequent inquiries. Ironically, the FCC chair later denounces the broadcasting industry for not defending Pacifica during its investigation of the foundation.
1963 The senate intelligence Subcommittee investigates whether station management are pacifist or communist
1964 The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) renews the licenses of all three Pacifica stations after a three-year delay.
1965 KPFK wins awards for its coverage of the Watts ‘riots’.
1970 KPFT in Houston goes on the air and is bombed off twice during its first year by Ku Klux Klan attacks on its transmitter tower. After months of inactivity by federal agents and Houston police, Pacifica mounts a media campaign. Federal agents ultimately arrest a Klansman and charge him with plotting to blow up KPFA and KPFK, as well as the actual KPFT bombing.
1970 The Pacifica stations (including KPFK) decline to join the new public radio service, National Public Radio.
1971 Noted folklorist Mario Casetta joins the station’s music staff, introducing World Music to the airwaves.
1971 KPFK builds its custom radio building.
1972 The Pacifica Radio Archive and Pacifica Program Service are established in Los Angeles to preserve and distribute Pacifica programming to schools, libraries, individuals, and other community radio stations across the country.
1974 The Symbionese Liberation Army delivers the Patty Hearst tapes to KPFA/Berkeley and KPFK/Los Angeles. In search of documents pertaining to domestic revolutionary groups, the LAPD searches KPFK for 8 ½ hours. KPFK Manager Will Lewis is jailed for refusing to turn the tapes over to the FBI.
1975 KPFK’s transmitters go up on Mt. Wilson.
1980 Sharon Maeda becomes Executive Director of Pacifica, markets the sub-carrier frequencies, temporarily manages KPFK, and moves the Pacifica Radio Archives and the National Office into KPFK’s building in North Hollywood.
1984 With money troubles seeming insurmountable, the station goes off the air for 10 days late in September.
1986 After a broadcast of a play about AIDS, KPFK forces the FCC to adopt more narrowly defined rules regarding indecent speech.
1987 Lady Smith Black Mambazo makes their first live U.S. radio appearance, on KPFK/Los Angeles.
1989 KPFK creates its apprenticeship program to train women and people of color in radio production skills.
1992 Senate Republicans put a hold on funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, claiming “liberal bias” on a host of issues, including environmental coverage. A bill is passed imposing “objectivity and balance” conditions on CPB funding. Almost alone among broadcasters, Pacifica protests any content-conditional funding, pressing CPB to shield all news programming and editorial integrity of individual producers–which CPB agrees to in its implementation protocols. Pacifica observes that no other broadcasters, commercial or religious, are any longer subject to access and balance requirements of the now-repealed Fairness Doctrine–making public broadcasters alone subject to editorial restrictions. Immediately after passage of the content restrictions, CPB Board member Victor Gold targets KPFK for strident African American programming and controversial speech aired during Black History month, by filing an FCC complaint.
1993 CPB Board member Victor Gold calls for de-funding Pacifica, echoing lobbying campaign orchestrated by right-wing media critics. In a unanimous vote, CPB reaffirms Pacifica’s funding irrespective of program content. Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole (R-KS) threatens public broadcasting with Congressional revenge, his aide explaining: “The First Amendment, freedom of speech, doesn’t apply, because we are able to put conditions on the grants of federal money. The same as we do for farmers.” Pacifica launches a campaign for unconditional funding and self-defense, led by a tremendous outpouring of “fightback donations” from listeners nationwide. CPB funding narrowly escapes cuts in the House of Representatives, with program content the driving issue. A lobbying effort keeps Pacifica funding off the Senate agenda. This is the second year in which Pacifica has received no discretionary funding from CPB (only the matching funding based upon listener contributions).
1993 Pacifica wins its third Court of Appeals ruling in six years, overturning the FCC restrictions on “indecent” programming as unconstitutional restrictions of the First Amendment rights of the radio audience.
1996 Former California Governor and future mayor of Oakland Jerry Brown hosts “We the People” on KPFK, & KPFA, a daily talk show that features interviews with Noam Chomsky, Paolo Soleri, Ivan Illich, and Gore Vidal.
1998 KPFK puts its Santa Barbara translator into operation.
2001 On December 12th the Pacifica board and dissident groups sign a settlement that leads to the democratization of the Pacifica radio network. The listener-subscribers win the right to vote for representatives on their local station board.
When KPFK began broadcasting on July 26, 1959, it was the only public radio station in Los Angeles and the second public station in the country. Notable Angelenos sat on the advisory board including Aldous Huxley, James Mason and Vincent Price, and architect Richard Neutra. On April 27, Los Angeles commemorates Neutra Earth Day. Just like worldwide Earth Day (observed on April 22), Neutra Earth Day emphasizes sustainability and green lifestyles. But like most things in Los Angeles, it’s done with a Modern twist: it celebrates Neutra as a pioneer of the environmental movement.
The station was dedicated to bringing diverse voices together and thereby helping to forge a peaceful world. From the station’s earliest days, KPFK invited opposing points of view on the air. Communist Party organizer Dorothy Healy provided regular political commentaries, as did conservative activist Howard Jarvis. KPFK was an open door for debate.
Because of its courageous championing of First Amendment freedoms, controversy dogged the station. In 1964, the FBI asked the Attorney General to investigate KPFK broadcasts of the award-winning play, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and a program in which two lesbians discussed their lives. Seven years later, the FCC investigated the station because of a broadcast about a local college professor who had been fired after discussing a sexually explicit poem about Jesus in class.
KPFK also became the recipient of numerous messages from revolutionary groups active in the 1970s. The LAPD spent 8 ½ hours rifling through station documents in pursuit of confidential materials received from the Weather Underground and the Symbionese Liberation Army. Station manager Will Lewis went to jail twice for refusing to turn over those documents,
In the 1980s, KPFK went to the Supreme Court to protect the right of all public radio stations to editorialize. Later in the decade, the station defended its broadcast of a sexually explicit play about a man dying of specific criteria for judging indecent speech on the airwaves.
Over the years, KPFK has won some of journalism’s most coveted awards including dozens of “Golden Mikes”, a George Foster Peabody Award and an Alfred I. Dupont Award.
2015-04-06 36 paid employees