KPFT was born in Houston about 50 years ago.
The story goes that in the late 1960s, Houston was still behind the times, meaning certain stories were ignored by the media and the ruling classes. Our city’s first black woman had been elected to the school board. And even though there was pressure for desegregation and equal rights — the local papers, television, and radio declined to cover the victory.
Out of a first amendment urge, “two young, disillusioned journalists” started KPFT — Larry Lee from the Associated Press and Don Gardner from the Houston Post.
So this lil’ radio station got itself a lil’ license from the big ol’ government — and joined a growing family of educational, community radio stations from across America. At the time, KPFT was the youngest of four siblings in Berkeley, Los Angeles, New York City, and Houston.
On March 1, 1970 this lil’ radio station started broadcasting for the very first time. Can you guess the first song those pioneers played for the good people of Houston and Harris County back then?
“Hear Comes the Sun” by The Beatles. The band had only released it four months prior. What a time to be alive. Unfortunately it appears there is no way to listen to this song (click below to listen to this song).
Suddenly, when KPFT was only two months old, someone set off a bomb at the station. Amazingly, thankfully, no one was hurt. But the crippling blast destroyed the transmitter, and KPFT was isolated from its community. After repairs were made, the station was bombed again by the same culprits (KKK) when the station was only six months old.
Throughout the years KPFT has seen itself idolized and brutalized. Sometimes it’s the victim, and many times it is the cause itself. For what it’s worth, you’d probably be at less than your best too if you survived two politically motivated explosions before your first birthday.
“…the first, second, and only radio station in this country to be literally blown off the air.“
Engineering and Technical Support
To establish a Foundation organized and operated exclusively for educational purposes no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any member of the Foundation.
To establish and operate for educational purposes, in such manner that the facilities involved shall be as nearly self-sustaining as possible, one or more radio broadcasting stations licensed by the Federal Communications Commission and subject in their operation to the regulatory actions of the Commission under the Communications Act of 1934, As Amended.
In radio broadcasting operations to encourage and provide outlets for the creative skills and energies of the community; to conduct classes and workshops in the writing and producing of drama; to establish awards and scholarships for creative writing; to offer performance facilities to amateur instrumentalists, choral groups, orchestral groups and music students; and to promote and aid other creative activities which will serve the cultural welfare of the community.
In radio broadcasting operations to engage in any activity that shall contribute to a lasting understanding between nations and between the individuals of all nations, races, creeds and colors; to gather and disseminate information on the causes of conflict between any and all of such groups; and through any and all means compatible with the purposes of this corporation to promote the study of political and economic problems and of the causes of religious, philosophical and racial antagonisms.
In radio broadcasting operations to promote the full distribution of public information; to obtain access to sources of news not commonly brought together in the same medium; and to employ such varied sources in the public presentation of accurate, objective, comprehensive news on all matters vitally affecting the community.