KPFT. Electronic Mind-control —You have to Lovett.
BY MORRIS EDELSON
KPFT: Marathon No Thermopylae
Not too long ago, Tony Ullrich, popular
programmer of the Bluegrass Express,
walked off the air at KPFT on Lovett and
out into the sunshine, claiming that the
radio station had become "unsupport-
able." Aside from the graffiti, the dirt,
and people sleeping on the Pacifica
couches and walking about in their underwear, Ullrich said he could not stand
Manager Ray Hill's politically aggressive
attitudes and identification of KPFT with
a neighborhood listener survey. 'The results and the meanings were ambiguous,"
Glaser said, "so right now we still have a
potpourri of eclectic programs with a
direction unclear to me. It's a little wild,
with radio for the hearing-impaired, a
Chinese show in Chinese, drop-in and
hosted talk shows, New Wave . . . personally, I am torn between what I can do
here without money, and the constraints
in another place, with money."
Glaser explained that in any given
week about 100 people might volunteer
shows on topics of particular interest to
women, and the Fleming-Saylors show
is a magazine of literary and political
reviews, with music and interviews of
people in the news. During the marathon
month of fund-raising, Saylors and
Fleming were on the air (October 10)
from 6:30 to midnight. Their weekly program resumes in November.
Glaser said, "Women's programming
tends to have its own special reservation
on the station, but not to be integrated
into the overall programming. Anything
the marathon, locked themselves in the
station and refused to let anyone else in.
That went on for about two weeks, until
the commercial media got around to
covering the story and the funds came
The controversial manager himself,
Ray Hill, seems not only unworried by
the rumbles of dissent and the problems
of 24-hour month-long operation, but
actually to be having a good time. He
cheerfully admitted, "The marathon is
off to a bad start. It's only getting about
candidate Reagan's stand on the proposed amendment. They rallied in great numbers and.
they will again on Sunday, November 2 at 2 pm in front of the City Hall Reflection Pool.
the gay rights campaign. "The station
needs to grow up," said Ullrich, "it has to
change into the 1970's—it is still hippy,
left-wing, and trying to shock people—
and what the community wants and
needs is a professional, community radio
station. When it is ready to move toward
that goal, I am ready to go back—I am
eager to go back."
Ullrich is not hostile to gays, he said,
but to mixing the radio station in political fights—"a left-over attitude"—and to
its "this is my treehouse" attitude.
Margie Glaser, another long-time
worker at the Pacifica station, sees the
problem as "one of focus, direction.
The idea of community broadcasting is
subject to a number of different interpretations." 4?
It's not that the station hasn't tried,
she said. A few years ago KPFT even did
for various tasks around the non-profit
Pacifica station. Most of them are drawn
by the chance to get, someday, on the air,
and those who persist, do. "I have learned
a tremendous amount here," Glaser said,
"especially about the technical aspects of
broadcasting. Pacifica fulfilled the idea of
access to the public for me." She began
as a subscriber, but after the right-wing
bombing of the station's transmitter,
became a volunteer and now is a programmer, with her show Focus on the
Arts introducing listeners to new cultural
developments and music in Houston.
Glaser is one of only a few women
programmers, a group including Karen
Lee, with The Women's Room at 7 p.m.
Tuesdays, and Nancy Fleming and Rita
Saylors, who host Breakthrough on the
Air 6:30 Wednesdays. The Lee program
features panel discussions and call-in
that is seen as being of interest to women
goes into the women's programs. It's a
The patchwork is either a pleasing
quilt of sound or unrelated pieces, depending on which insider of the station one
listens to. Since February, most of the
decisions have depended on Ray Hill.
According to one commentator, it is
"Hill and his circle of intimates who
claim to be most in touch with the wider
listening audience, about which there is
Glaser is inclined to be optimistic:
"Things aren't as bad now as they have
been in the past, not by a long shot. Just
think about the bombing, which resulted
in a great outpouring of concern and support. Then there was the 1977 lockout.
Bob Rogers and 11 other people, since
enough money had not come in during
25 percent of our planned response. This
prompt money usually comes out for the
special areas of programming, such as the
reggae music, the women's shows and
other specialized programs."
Hill expects the marathon to meet its
goal of half the year's expenses. (So far
only $57,000 has been pledged—they
need $125,000 by November 15.) Hill
sees November a more successful and
varied month: "We are adding an outdoor
sports program next month, connected
to an environmental program. Monday
nights are going to have a Spanish character and Friday nights a black personality.
Currently we are broadcasting in nine
languages, including a gypsy dialect of
Hungarian, Patois, Pakistani and an Indian dialect. We also speak Texan."
The "unprofessionalism" of the station he also dismisses: "Pacifica itself is