This year historian Matthew Lasar published a recounting of what he calls the civil war inside of the Pacifica Foundation, where community radio began at KPFA in Berkeley, CA, titled Uneasy Listening. I haven’t yeat read the book, but it’s on my list. I very much enjoyed Lasar’s first book on Pacifica, Pacifica Radio: The Rise of an Alternative Network, which provided me a good foundation for understanding both the Pacifica network and community radio in the US.
Community radio pioneer Lorenzo Milam, of Sex and Broadcasting fame, recently reviewed Uneasy Listening for RALPH magazine. Milam, of course, writes his review in his inimitable style that is entertaining and informative itself:
Uneasy Listening is presented as a history, but I believe it is more in the mold of a detective story: Hammett, Holmes, MacDonald, et al. The mystery is this: how can those who profess to love great and alive broadcasting … how can these socially-active sorts do everything in their power to cripple and destroy their fellow sufferers in the same media, at the same time possibly destroying the very radio stations that are the life’s blood of the volunteers, staff, managers, and listeners? As one ne’er-do-well states in a quote placed at the beginning of Uneasy Listening, “There was a time when we wanted … to explain the aesthetic of radio — to describe what it is that makes people go so foolish and so broke in order to get involved in radio.”
The operative word here is “foolish.”