The late 1960s and early 1970s were a pivotal period, both politically and culturally, in the United States. And it was around this time that Boston radio station WBCN hit the airwaves and became an influential force with the music it broadcast and the stories it covered.
And a documentary on WBCN is available for rental online with a portion of the rental proceeds going to one of our own local radio stations – KDUR at Fort Lewis College.
Bill Lichtenstein’s âWBCN and the American Revolutionâ is available to stream online for $ 12 for a three-day rental, and proceeds will be shared with KDUR as part of a nationwide campaign to support community radio organizations, film and media arts during the pandemic and create a public dialogue on how the media can create social change.
âA year ago, ‘WBCN and The American Revolution’ launched an exhilarating tour of film festivals and screenings across the United States, many of which have benefited community radio stations. The audience was elated and empowered by the story of how a rock radio station and a community of passionate listeners came together to change their world for the better, âLichtenstein said in a press release. âNow, in this unprecedented time, when we all face a shared danger but must do it separately from each other, the spirit of community is stronger than ever. I’m delighted that we can share the film’s inspirational message in this way. “
What makes “WBCN” such a cool documentary is that Lichtenstein knows what he’s talking about – he started working at the station as a volunteer in 1970 at the age of 14, and ended up covering news and had his own weekly radio show as a child. The effect that the work at the station had on him was profound.
âI was so impressed both with the impact the station has had during this time and also with the scale of the changes that have taken place and the similarities between what is happening now that it seemed like a lesson from things about how the media can create social change, âhe said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
The film includes first-person testimonials from station staff, as well as newly filmed and archival material featuring prominent political, social, cultural and musical figures of the time, including Noam Chomsky, Jane Fonda , David Bowie, Jerry Garcia, Abbie Hoffman, Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen, in his first radio interview, and Patti Smith, performing with his band on his first live radio show, the statement said.
And while Lichtenstein said he’s not sure there ever will be another radio station quite like WBCN, there are – and there will be – different ways the media can impact the communities.
âI think what BCN has done has been replaced in different ways by other forms of media, starting with the fact that you can take your phone and shoot a video and that can create a huge social change,â a- he declared. âI think that’s the essential element, but the community stations are in a way the legacy of it; commercial radio has largely consolidated itself under a few very large companies that program them nationally, so you get very little local, cultural, or topical content. NPR, which I find fabulous, but it tends to have a more national reach, you get national news, national programs, national discussions for the most part. But it’s really community stations like KDUR that I think have just inherited the legacy where people feel like if there is something important then they contact the station as a way to engage the community, and I think that’s just essential.
And stations like KDUR provide an important connection between people and the community, said Bryant Liggett, director of the KDUR station.
âIt is important to support local radio stations like KDUR because it is a radio run by your friends and neighbors. Most commercial radio stations are programmed by someone outside of the broadcast area – not a station like KDUR, âhe said. âWe are a station on the community programmed by community members – it’s like a lifeline for the city and its inhabitants, waves that are connected to the heartbeat of the community, an audio representation of that community. “