Daily radio program playing selections from the KPFA Archives documenting their “Radio Events” on UNTITLED Radio during UNTITLED San Francisco, January 13-15, 2017.
Independent, free form radio has always been an essential part of the Bay Area’s cultural landscape. As the first listener supported non-commercial radio station in the United States, established in 1946, KPFA has played an important role in shaping this history. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, under Music Director Charles Amirkhanian, KPFA hosted a number of “radio events” which were participatory radio programs created with the input of the station’s listeners. Wild and innovative, the programs involved everything from collectively brewing tea over the airwaves to joining listeners in a public jam session in a Berkeley park. For this program, a selection of KPFA’s Radio Events will air daily.
Radio Event No. 9: Boiling Water (Original air date: April 6, 1970)
This program, entitled “Boiling Water” was created by Philip Corner in conjunction with Charles Amirkhanian and his wife Carol Law. In order to participate, the audience was encouraged to listen to the radio while standing near the stove. The general idea was to have the audience boil some water and make some tea, or some other warm beverage, in concert with the two on-air personalities, Amirkhanian and Law.
Radio Event: No. 1 Radio Caress (Original air date: September 30, 1969)
Charles Amirkhanian presents the listeners with an assortment of instructions for physical and mental activities tied to a variety of sounds produced in the studio. Suggested activities range from making faces or moving one’s head, imagining the forms of letters, doodling on cereal boxes, to making sounds to correspond with certain words.
Radio Event No. 18: Radio Free Music Day (Original air date: November 7, 1971)
On November 7, 1971, between the hours of 2 PM and 4 PM, KPFA invited the public to play music live on the radio. The KPFA mobile bus was at a park in downtown Berkeley California where the listening public, and anybody else in the area, was asked to bring sound making devices of any sort and to play them in front of the KPFA mics. Foghorns, tympani, license plates, gongs, saxophones, guitars, and garbage cans were all welcome. Anything that could be used to produce sounds was fair game, the stranger the better. The resulting sounds were directly transmitted to Northern California, for all to hear.
Radio Event No. 23: Chrysanthemum Chameleon (Original air date: June 7, 1973)
In this, the 23rd program in the series, Alex Dea and a group of 25 singers, invited the listening audience of KPFA to come to the studio, or gather at their home with friends and with the radio on, and join them in an evening of meditative chanting. In “Piece I” everyone was instructed to sing at their lowest note and gradually move to their highest note using any vowel sounds starting with “Z” (Za, Zay, Zee, etc…). “Piece II” started with “OM”, then moved to rhythmic repetitions of syllables beginning with “CH” (Chak, Chawk, Cha, Chee, etc…), and then more rhythmic repetitions of syllables starting with the letter “D”. The end result was a calming, consciousness raising, event that united listeners across the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.
Organized by Ceci Moss. All recordings available thanks to the Other Minds Archive and the Internet Archive. All recordings licensed under Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0.