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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.
The search for commentaries is on going, but below is a selection of what we have found so far. As we find more, they will be added.
Listen now - Jean Andre - Sex - May 22, 1966 (27:57) - Click to view - JSF PA0632
Listen now - Jean Andre - Life, breath, death - Apr 8, 1968 (15:57) - Recording courtesy Bob West
Listen now - Benjamin Dawson - Non-Commercial Radio - 1971 or 1972 (19:03) - Click to view - JSF PA0375
Listen now - Dr Frederick B Exner - More about money - Nov 1964 (25:03) - Click to view - JSF PA0167
Listen now - Jonathan Gallant - Existentialism and Entropy - Date Unk (11:06) - Click to view - JSF PA0547
Listen now - Jonathan Gallant - The First Commentary - Dec 21, 1962 (16:04) - Click to view - JSF PA0382
Listen now - Jonathan Gallant - Oswald, the press, communism - Jan 5, 1964 (10:38) - Click to view - JSF PA0186
Listen now - Jonathan Gallant - Keeping an eye on the INS - Feb 2, 1964 (27:14) - Click to view - JSF PA0030
Listen now - Jonathan Gallant - About the Scientific Method - Oct 27, 1968 (24:16) - Click to view - JSF PA0532
Listen now - William Hanson - The Gun Cult - Jan 15, 1970 (34:08) - Click to view - JSF PA0031
Listen now - William Hanson - On the Death of John Kennedy - Dec 5, 1963 (29:41) - UMD bcast-072233
Listen now - William Hanson - The Sears Roebuck Catalog - 1968 (30:27) - UMD bcast-072233
Listen now - William Hanson - The Word Is and Is Not - Mar 8, 1982 (30:27) - Click to view - JSF PA0387
Listen now - Geoffrey Hewings - Returning to the UK - 1967 or 1968 (17:17) - Courtesy Geoff Hewings
Listen now - Gene Johnston - Cigarette vs dope smoking - Sep 12, 1966 (23:27) - Click to view - JSF PA0244
Listen now - Gene Johnston - Malice in Blunderland - Jan 9, 1967 (17:25) - Click to view - JSF PA0242
Listen now - Gene Johnston - Malice in Blunderland Part 2 - Jan 9, 1967 (18:46) - Click to view - JSF PA0243
Listen now - Gene Johnston - The Farmers Market - Aug 29, 1967 (13:35) - Click to view - JSF PA0245
Listen now - Gene Johnston - The U District - circa 1968 (9:43) - Click to view - JSF PA0246*
Listen now - Frank Krasnowsky - King, Carmichael, and Ali - Apr 28, 1967 (32:19) - Click to view - BW1010
Listen now - Janet McCloud - Native Americans - Nov 16, 1968 (30:24) - Click to view - JSF PA1267
Listen now - S Balakrishna Pillai - The Ultimate Truth - Aug 24, 1973 (30:24) - Click to view - JSF PA0150
Listen now - David Trader - Legalizing prostitution - Mar 22, 1966 (22:57) - Click to view - JSF PA0209
Listen now - C. H. West - On the Ethics of Killing - Aug 10, 1966 (27:22) - Click to view - JSF PA0204
Listen now - Marshall Windmiller - The crackpot romantic - 1968 (15:49) - PRA and JSF M1574
BW = Bob West Collection
JSF = Recording courtesy Jack Straw Foundation
PRA = Recording courtesy Pacifica Radio Archives
UMD = Recordings courtesy University of Maryland Special Collections and University Archives, collection of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB)
pa0246 (Gene Johnston-The U District) 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
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