KRAB Commentaries - Free Speech on Radio
In the early years, Commentaries were nightly Monday through Friday. They were opportunities for people with opinions that mainstream commercial and noncommercial media found objectionable to express those opinions over the radio. It was a Speakers Corner in an electronic Hyde Park, with KRAB providing the soap box, and the fulfillment of a promise of free speech on radio.
By the time Lorenzo Milam wrote Sex and Broadcasting, he had learned some hard lessons. Here is some advice about “The most Vital Programming”:
“There is a member of the Birch society, or the Socialist workers Party, or the local Conservation Group – who has been denied a voice in the community for all his 50 years. Ask him if he would like to do a 15 or 20 minute commentary for you. Set it up for an exact time. Let him tape it ahead of time if it is more convenient. Your first request should be for a one-time commentary (no interview: just him speaking). If he is great, or even just good, and wants the time – sign him up for 3 months. If he is still good, ask him to stay on. Neither you nor I can predict how someone will do on the air in a commentary job: that is why your opening offer should be what it is to all your program participants: a one time on the air spot. If they deserve it, ask them back. Again and again.”
Regardless of what Lorenzo writes above, we avoided categorizing commentators by their membership in the Birch Society, the SWP, Sierra Club, or political faction. In fact, we rarely said anything about the commentator at all. In this way we hoped that listeners would not be prejudiced by a label. Occasionally we would offer time to a group whose opinions we were desperate to have represented on KRAB (the John Birch Society, for instance) and they would choose to be listed as the group, but this was rare.
As time went on, for some reason it became harder to find people wanting to take advantage of the commentary program.
NEW AUG 2017: Listen now - Gene Johnston - The U District - circa 1968 (9:43) - Click to view - JSF PA0246*
Listen now - Marshall Windmiller - The crackpot romantic - 1968 (15:49) - PRA and JSF M1574
JSF = Recording courtesy Jack Straw Foundation
PRA = Recording courtesy Pacifica Radio Archives
pa0246 - Gene talks about a number of sights on University Way that have changed significantly over the years. For photos, see the tape label (where it says "click to view").
If you possess any souvenirs (program guides, tapes, or photos) or have a story about your experience with KRAB you are willing to share, please email firstname.lastname@example.org