The Pacifica Foundation, founded by Lewis Hill in 1947, was given the mission to create a new kind of radio, supported by listeners, owing nothing to sponsors, providing an outlet for creative expression and a safe haven for artistic experiments with the radio medium. Predating National Public Radio by 20 years and beginning in 1949 with KPFA-94.1 FM Berkeley, CA, the network added four stations (WBAI 99.5 FM -NYC, KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles, WPFW 89.3 FM Washington D.C., and KPFT 90.1 FM Houston, TX.), over the next 28 years. Perhaps best known as a chronicler of social justice movements and cultural change, the Pacifica stations also embrace the performing and literary arts, offering sometimes the only forum for cutting edge and classical arts, and providing a stage to experiment with radio drama, spoken word, sound sculpture, and the art of radio documentary.
The Pacifica Radio Archives were established in 1971, beginning as a repository for station programmers to deposit taped programs of exceptional historic value, appropriate for rebroadcast by other stations, or as "archival source material" for radio producers, artists, scholars, and others. The Archives contains over 100,000 program units, 40,000 of which have descriptive records (available at pacificaradioarchives.org), 18,000 of which have been digitally preserved. The programs date from the advent of Pacifica Radio in 1949 through the present day, the bulk dated between 1955-1985 on the ¼ inch reel-to-reel format. This audio history documents the last half of the 20th century and reflects the memory, traditions and evolution of Pacifica Radio.
The intellectual content of the collection emphasizes a common thread of social justice covering cultural, health, historical, political, psychological, racial, religious, philosophical and social aspects of our society over a variety of subjects. These include: the McCarthy era, architecture, film history, literature, music, visual arts and culture, Asian- Americans, Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, international affairs, Latin America, the Middle East, South Africa, U.S. intelligence, war, peace, Jews in Europe and the U.S., science and health, women, civil liberties, civil rights, authors in their own words, economics, media, and science.
Arts programming includes radio adaptations of classic plays and other literary works, original radio dramas, readings of poetry and literature, programs hosted by authors and poets, radio arts, discussions of literature, poetry, drama, sound sculpture, and other genres hosted by artists.
The Archives have been awarded several grants for the digital preservation and improved description of this important collection including grants from The Grammy Foundation, The Ford Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the California Audio/Visual Preservation Project, and our largest grant currently in process from the National Historical Records and Publications Commission.
The majority of the collection resides in the temperature and humidity controlled vault at the Pacifica Radio Archives office in North Hollywood, California. Please contact us at (800) 735-0230 or visit http://pacificaradioarchives.org/contact-us for reference assistance or information about our collection.