LUMPENPROLETARIAT—Award-winning journalist Amy Goodman has published a new book about the twentieth anniversary of, perhaps, the most popular listener-sponsored (free speech) daily newscast, which she co-founded and spearheaded. The book is entitled Democracy Now!: Twenty Years Covering the Movements Changing America; and it is co-written with Goodman’s frequent co-writing collaborators, her sibling David Goodman and her long-time ally and Democracy Now! contributor Denis Moynihan.
As Democracy Now! began at Pacifica Radio station WBAI back in 1996, Amy Goodman returned to her roots, not unlike award-winning journalist Jeremy Scahill, by including, on her 20th Anniversary Book Tour, a stop at the birthplace of free speech radio KPFA (Berkeley, California) and commemorating KPFA’s birthday (15 APR 1949). Hosted by KPFA’s latest general manager Quincy McCoy, Amy Goodman delivered a characteristically measured and responsible speech at First Congregational Church of Berkeley on Sunday, April 17th, 2016 at 7:30 pm. Listen to (or download) audio at free speech radio KPFA, for example, here. 
[Transcript by Messina for Lumpenproletariat and free speech radio KPFA]
THE TALKIES—[11 MAY 2016] “Good morning, welcome to The Talkies. I am your host Kris Welch. And, on this day two for The Talkies, folks, of our Spring Fund Drive I am thrilled and delighted to bring you an event, which if you tried to go to you probably couldn’t get in because it was sold out. I’m talking about the KPFA Birthday Celebration, which also turns out is an anniversary celebration for the programme, of which the host was the main event. I’m talking about Amy Goodman and Democracy Now!. We bring you her speech that evening, here in Berkeley, to you in this hour. [SNIP] ”
AMY GOODMAN: [audience applause dissipates] “Brian told a lot of the story of the beginning of KPFA. Right? 1949: Lou Hill comes out of the detention camps. A war resister, and he says: There’s gotta be a media outlet, that’s not run by corporations, that profit from war, but run by journalists and artists.
“Now, I think many of you have heard me say this so many times, you can sing along with me. But it is, really, a beautiful thing. George Gerbner, the late dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, saying: Not run by corporations, that have nothing to tell and everything to sell, that are raising our children today.
“And, so, Pacifica was born April 1949. KPFK, we just had a big fundraiser for them last Thursday night. Ten years later, 1959; my station in New York, WBAI, 1960. In the first years of WBAI, playing that debate between Malcolm X and James Baldwin on the effectiveness of non-violent disobedience, the lunch counter sit-ins of the south.
“WPFW, in Washington D.C.: 1977.
“The Pacifica family.
“KPFT, that unusual station in the petro-metro—we’ll be headed there in just a few weeks to do a fundraiser—goes on the air in April of 1970. And, within weeks, well, just in the middle of Arlo Guthrie singing “Alice’s Restaurant“, the Ku Klux Klan blows it up. And I thought “Alice’s Restaurant” was, actually, a really good song.
“But they strapped dynamite to the base of the transmitter. And blew it to smithereens.
“Now, it’s not as if Pacifica had money for advertising. So, the silver lining was it certainly blew it into the consciousness of the potential listening audience of the people of Houston, though I do not recommend this as an advertising strategy. (c. 9:15)
“They get back on their feet. They rebuild the transmitter.
“They go back on the air. And the Klan blows it up again. It took a little longer now. And, when they go back on the air the following year, I think PBS came in to actually broadcast that first broadcast. Arlo Guthrie came back to Houston to finish his song. And they went back on the air for good.
“Now, I can’t remember if it was the Exalted Cyclops or Grand Dragon ‘cos I often confuse their titles. But he said it was his proudest act. I think that’s because he understood how dangerous Pacifica, how dangerous independent media is, dangerous because it allows people to speak for themselves.
“And when you hear someone speaking from their own experience, whether it’s a Palestinian child or an Isreali grandmother, whether it is an Afghan uncle or an Iraqi, it challenges the stereotypes, that fuel the hate groups. It makes it much less likely that you’ll want to destroy someone. It makes it much harder the other that person. Right? They are the other. Like the birther movement did. Whatever you feel about certain policies during the Obama administration, it is very hard to deny that the Birther Movement, among those who led it—Donald Trump, was anything but a racist backlash against the first African-American president elected in a land with a legacy of slavery. [audience applause] (c. 11:01)
“But when you hear someone speak from their own experience, you might say: It sounds like my bobo, my baby, my aunt, my uncle. Now, I’m not saying you’ll agree with what you hear. How often do we agree with our family members? David? [audience laughter] But it makes it less likely we’ll want to destroy them. That understanding of where someone is coming from, that understanding is the beginning of peace.
“I think the media can be the greatest force for peace on Earth. Instead, all too often, it’s wielded as a weapon of war, which is why we have to take it back. [audience applause]
“You know; my brother, David, and I wrote three books together. The first was called The Exception to the Rulers—and that’s what all the media should be: the exception to the rulers—Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them. The second book is called Static. And I know we came here and talked about that then. But the reason we called it that is, even in this high-tech digital age with high-def television, digital radio, still, all we get is static, that veil of distortion and lies and misrepresentations of half-truths, that obscure reality, when what we need the media to give us the dictionary definition of static: criticism, opposition, unwanted interference. We need a media that covers power, not covers for power. We—[audience applause swells]
“We need a media, that is the fourth estate, not for the state. And we need a media, that covers the movements, that makes static and make history. That’s the kind of media, that will save us. (c. 13:15)
“Independent media is the oxygen of a democracy. I see the media as a huge kitchen table, that stretches across the globe, that we all sit around and debate and discuss the most important issues of the day: war and peace, life and death. And anything less than that is a disservice to the service men and women of this country. They can’t have these debates on military bases. They rely on us, as civilian society, to have the discussions, that lead the decisions about whether they live or die, whether they are sent to kill or be killed. Anything less than that is a disservice to a democratic society. Now—[audience applause swells] (c. 13:57)
“I would like to only be talking about the Klan in the past sense, like what happened to Pacifica Radio 40 years ago. It is hard to believe in this 2016 election campaign season we are talking about the Klan again. The idea that the Republican front-runner Donald Trump had a problem with, automatically, immediately, without reservation, disavowing the support of the Klan leader, David Duke. I can’t remember if he was the Exalted Cyclops or the Grand Dragon. [audience laughter] And, you know, saying he had to do a little more research into what the particular Klan chapter that was supporting him.
“And what’s so important, why we need Pacifica Radio and independent media is—and, especially, for young people. I mean you’ve heard of the Klan, the KKK. Everyone has. But we’ve got to back and remind people what this terroristic organisation was all about. (c. 15:04)
“September—[audience applause swells] And what it means to open this pandora’s box, the underbelly of hate in America. September 11th, 2001 was horrific. 3000 people incinerated in an instant. But it wasn’t the first time terror came to U.S. shores. Ask any African-American about slavery [audience applause], about the Klan. Ask any Native American about what happened in this country. [applause continues] (c. 15:36)
[SNIP] (c. 59:59)
Learn more at THE TALKIES.
[This transcript will be expanded as time constraints, and/or demand or resources, allow.]
BROWN PAPER TICKETS—[accessed 21 MAY 2016] This is a celebration of the acclaimed news program Democracy Now! and the heroes who have moved our democracy forward and the birthday of KPFA.
In 1996 Amy Goodman started a radio show called Democracy Now! to focus on the issues that are under-reported or entirely ignored by mainstream news coverage. Shortly after September 11, 2001, Amy and her crew were broadcasting on television every weekday. Today Democracy Now! is the only public media in the U.S. that airs simultaneously on satellite and cable television, radio, and the Internet. In the new book Amy and her brother David share stories of the progressive heroes, the whistleblowers, the organizers, the protestors who have brought about remarkable, seismic (if often invisible) change over the last two decades.
As America’s courts, government and major media have abdicated their responsibilities, it has fallen to ordinary individuals to hold our powerful institutions to account. Democracy Now! like KPFA, which airs it throughout northern and central California has brought forward and given a clear voice to the countless charismatic leaders and movements emerging in the streets in Ferguson, Staten Island, Wall Street, Paris, and other places where people are rising up to demand justice.
Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of Democracy Now! An award-winning journalist, she has won the Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the alternative Nobel Prize; a lifetime achievement award from Harvards Nieman Foundation for Journalism; the George Polk Award; the Robert F. Kennedy Prize for International Reporting; and the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award. With Denis Moynihan, she is the N Y Times bestselling author of The Silenced Majority and Breaking the Sound Barrier. David Goodman, her brother, and Amy co-authored Democracy Now! Twenty Years Covering the Movements that Changed America, and The Exception to the Rulers.
Quincy McCoy, formerly of Salon.Com, is the General Manager of KPFA Radio 94.1FM, and the author of No Static: A Guide to Creative Radio Programing.
Learn more at BROWN PAPER TICKETS.
Also hear excerpts of Amy Goodman’s speech during these broadcasts:
- Terrestrial radio transmission, 94.1 FM (KPFA, Berkeley, CA) with online simulcast and digital archiving: Special Programming, hosted by Philip Maldari, Monday, 16 MAY 2016, 15:00 PDT, one hour broadcast.
- Terrestrial radio transmission, 94.1 FM (KPFA, Berkeley, CA) with online simulcast and digital archiving: Special Programming, hosted by Kris Welch, Philip Maldari, and Mitch Jeserich, Monday, 14 MAY 2016, 9:00 PDT, two-hour broadcast. [Music of the World (9am to 11am) was pre-empted by fund drive Special Programming: 9am: Talkies [re-run from 11 MAY 2016]—Amy Goodman speech excerpts from 17 APR 2016 KPFA/Democracy Now! Anniversary event at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley. 10am: Mitch Jeserich [re-run, perhaps]—Mitch Jeserich broadcast excerpts of the documentary film: Heist: Who Stole the American Dream, co-directed by former KPFA Local Station Board member Donald Goldmacher.]
[21 MAY 2016]
[Last modified 06:43 PDT 23 MAY 2016]