In the public radio landscape, the Pacifica stations stand out as inn0ovators of diverse and controversial broadcasting. Pacifica's fifty years of struggle against social and political conformity began with a group of young men and women who hoped to change the world with a credo of non-violence. Pacifica Radio traces the cultural and political currents that shaped the first listener-supported radio station, KPFA FM in Berkeley, and accompanied Pacifica's gradual expansion into a 5 station network.
In this expanded paperback edition, Lasar provides a postscript ("A Crisis of Containment") that examines the external pressures and organizational problems within the Pacifica Foundation that led, in early 1999, to the police shutdown of network station KPFA. Lasar, an admittedly pro-KPFA partisan in the conflict, gives a first-person account, calling it "the worst crisis in the history of community radio."
Yet Pacifica Radio is about more than just the network's recent troubles. It is the story of visionary Lewis Hill and the small band of pacifists who in 1946, set out to build institutions that would promote dialogue between individuals and nations. KPFA took to the air in 1949 with stunningly unconventional programs that challenged the dreary cultural consensus of the Cold War. No one in the Bay Area, or anywhere else, had heard anything like it on the airwaves.
The first edition of Pacifica Radio, which made the San Francisco Chronicle's non-fiction bestseller list, was praised as "fascinating reading" by In These Times, "Lasar has an eye for paradox, irony and contradiction," wrote the Santa Rose Press Democrat, "but he is first and foremost an able and astute historian."