Pacifica Radio's Larry Bensky looks back on a lifetime as an activist-journalist with Paul Roland.

Air date: 
Fri, 11/01/2013 - 8:00am - 9:00am
Short Description: 
Guest host Paul Roland speaks with Larry Bensky, long-time KPFA and Pacifica Radio program host.
Ani and Lyn are on vacation, but tune in as guest host Paul Roland talks with Larry Bensky, who retired in 2007 after several decades with KPFA, the first Pacifica station, which pioneered listener-sponsored radio. Bensky has had a long career as an activist and journalist, including 38 years at KPFA. He organized against the Vietnam War both in France and the U.S. and was later an anti-nuclear organizer. He had been editor of "The Paris review" from 1964-66, an editor at the New York Review of Books, and served as editor in 1968 of the influential radical investigative magazine "Ramparts."

He got his start in radio at the underground rock station KSAN in San Francisco.  At KPFA Bensky began as a volunteer programmer in 1969, and worked first as production director in 1972 and then was station manager from 1974-1977. He helped put on Pacifica's first long-range national broadcast, producing and anchoring "The Siege of Miami" in 1972, which covered the Democratic and Republican conventions and the protests outside them, and was picked up by 18 stations across the country.

Bensky was national affairs correspondent for the Pacifica network from 1987-1998, and may have been best known for his live gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Iran Contra hearings in 1987, which won him the prestigious George Polk award. He was also host of the long-running and popular weekly talk show, Sunday Salon until his retirement in 2007.

During his tenure at the station, both KPFA and Pacifica were beset by numerous conflicts and tensions, the most dramatic in the mid-to-late 1990's, culminating in a lock-out of KPFA staff by a runaway Pacifica Board. This episode shook  the station and the network  the core, from which they have never fully recovered. Bensky remarked in an interview that Pacifica lost the opportunity to expand their national reach and audience which they had gained from the many live national broadcasts and their news program.

Join us for a lively and wide-ranging look at KPFA, Pacifica and activist journalism with one of the key figures in the grassroots radio movement. And join us on Sunday, November 3, 7 p.m. at the Hollywood Theater for a screening of "KPFA on the Air" a documentary on the history of Pacifica!


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