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The Pacifica Radio Model

Question: Are there viable alternative models to corporate media.


Amy Goodman: I think we have an example in this country, Pacifica Radio, where I originally came out of. You know, Pacifica was founded in 1949 in Berkley, California by a war resistor named Lou Hill. He came out of the detention camps, and he said, “There has to be a media outlet that is not run by corporations that profit from war, that is not run by corporations. As George Gerbner, founder of the Cultural Environment Movement, former Dean at the Annenberg School Communications University of Pennsylvania, said, “Not run by corporations that have nothing to tell and everything to sell, that are raising our children today.” So, Pacifica was born. The first station, KPFA in Berkley in 1949, second station, 10 years later, in Los Angeles, ’59, KPFK, 1960, WBAI in New York, 1977, WPFW in Washington, and 1970, KPFT in Houston. Those are the 5 Pacifica Stations.

They are the original models of listener sponsorship, that you turned to the listener and you say please. If you appreciate what you hear… you don’t have to agree with everything, but if you appreciate this forum for people to debate and discuss the critical issues of the day, please support it. KPFT, when it went on the air in 1970, within a few months, the small station in Houston was blown off the air. The Ku Klux Klan blew it up. They strapped dynamite to the base of the transmitter, and I don’t know if it was the Exalted Cyclops or the Grand Dragon, ‘cause I often confuse their titles, but they said it was their proudest act, I think because they understood how dangerous Pacifica is.

Dangerous because it allows people to speak for themselves, and when you hear someone speaking for themselves, it breaks down the bigotry, the hatred, the caricatures that fuel the hate groups. I think that is very important model. Now, public radio and television adopted it. National public radio and PBS, you know, we all know the listener and viewer [fun thrives] on the air, but they’ve tended to move away from that, and they were going to corporate underwriting more and more. But Pacifica has remained true to that idea of listener sponsorship, and I think that is a critical model for authentic independent media in this country and around the world.


Recorded on: August 11, 2008



While NPR and PBS have gone to corporate underwriting, Amy Goodman's network has remained true.

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