Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America

By Jesse Walker

Boring DJs who by no means close up, and who do not even decide their very own files. a similar hits, persistently. a relentless circulate of exasperating ads. How did radio get so dull?

Not accidentally, contends journalist and historian Jesse Walker. for many years, govt and large enterprise have colluded to monopolize the airwaves, stamping out pageant, decreasing style, and silencing dissident voices. And but, within the face of such strain, an alternate radio culture has tenaciously survived.

Rebels at the Air explores those neglected chapters in American radio, revealing the criminal boundaries validated broadcasters have erected to make sure their dominance. utilizing full of life anecdotes drawn from firsthand interviews, Walker chronicles the tale of the unsung heroes of yank radio who, regardless of these boundaries, carved out areas for themselves within the spectrum, occasionally legally and infrequently now not. Walker's attractive, meticulous account is the 1st accomplished heritage of different radio within the United States.

From the unlicensed amateurs who invented broadcasting to the group radio flow of the Sixties and Nineteen Seventies, from the early days of FM to present day micro radio stream, Walker lays naked the hidden background of broadcasting. specifically, Rebels at the Air is the tale of the pirate broadcasters who shook up radio within the 1990sand of the recent types of radio we will be able to count on within the subsequent century, because the microbroadcasters crossbreed with the even more recent box of net broadcasting.

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Pledges could be solicited at disarmingly widespread periods, and we are going to have a squad of motorcyclists (to be pointed out via hearts and “KRAB” tattooed on their palms) able to exit and decide up the pledges. the cash is required to shop for crucial tubes, tapes, and to pay a foul collection of debts that experience accrued in our TO BE PAID dossier. The Marathon will expand until eventually 6 PM on Sunday. forty three It labored. It additionally nervous Milam; writing within the marathon’s wake, he famous that these forty-two hours have been “as as regards to advertisement radio as KRAB has ever come. each part hour, religiously, occasionally for so long as 5 mins, there has been a heavy allure for money. ”44 by way of the Nineteen Seventies, Lorenzo will be apologizing, kind of, for the innovation: “The unhappy truth is that the Marathon is not any longer a stop-gap emergency moneyraise for the group stations. relatively, it has grow to be a style wherein these stations can finances sooner than time an additional $20,000 or $80,000—knowing month’s beggary will elevate a few sum like that. ”45 because the perform unfold to the extra expert quarters of public radio and public television, with pitches from legions of Cats enthusiasts and grown males dressed as health care provider Who, Milam might at the least take convenience within the proven fact that WBAI had came across a similar fundraising process, 88 THE ’60s it appears independently. So whether KRAB had stored quiet that November, the precedent could nonetheless were set. For the hot Yorkers, the monetary main issue hit in the summertime of 1965. BAI used to be at the back of on its debts, its taxes, and its payroll; the employees was once offended and hungry, and Ma Bell, Con Edison, and the IRS have been yapping on the doorways. At an emergency assembly, the employees decided—in Steve Post’s words—to “suspend all programming and switch to the viewers, twenty-four hours an afternoon, until eventually both we raised the cash essential to remain alive or the plug was once pulled. ” no longer every body loved the assumption: “This marathon other thing than smacked of Jerry Lewis promoting diseased childrens to the top bidder of guilt. ”46 yet they did it besides, pleading round the clock until eventually the money they wanted was once there. It used to be thoroughly disorganized, a sprawling, open-ended panhandling spree, with celebrities starting from Pete Seeger to Tony Randall losing by way of to beg. It used to be profitable adequate to develop into institutionalized—since 1965, no longer a yr has passed by at BAI with out a minimum of one (and, in recent years, many extra) on-air pledgefests. The perform used to be quick imitated on the different Pacifica stations, then at extra shops round the kingdom. again within the northwest, KRAB’s effect used to be spreading. In Portland, Oregon, the city’s simply classical song station, KPFM, switched to a extra advertisement structure, leaving its listeners with out position to move. a few them shaped a bunch known as Portland Listener Supported Radio, hoping to shop for the station and go back it to its outdated methods. whilst that plan failed, and after they stumbled on themselves not able to cajole the other neighborhood retailers to undertake a classical lineup, they requested KRAB if it could possibly aid them begin a brand new station.

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