Tag Archives: KPFA

KPFA honors Phil Elwood, jazz critic, pioneering disc jockey

Phil Elwood on the job at KPFA. The station dedicates the Phil Elwood Music Library on Saturday, before airing a documentary about his legacy at 2 p.m.
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FM radio was an obscure broadcasting technology when Phil Elwood started sending out jazz over the airwaves on KPFA, a station that was just three years old when he came on board in 1952.

On Saturday afternoon the station honors one of its foundational voices when the Phil Elwood Music Library is dedicated to the late disc jockey before an 80-minute radio documentary about Elwood’s legacy airs at 2 p.m. It’s a labor of love spearheaded by Elwood’s son, Berkeley resident Josh Elwood, who has been taking care of his father’s vast archive of interviews, articles and broadcasts. Elwood died at the age of 79 in January 2006, just one month after his wife Audrey.

A radio pioneer, Elwood was one of the first people to spin jazz records on an FM station when he started his “Jazz Archive” program on KPFA in 1952, a weekly show that ran until 1996. The son of UC Berkeley agriculture professor Clifford Franklin Elwood, he was a proud Berkeleyan who graduated from Berkeley High in 1943. He earned a history degree from Cal, served in the Navy, and spent several decades teaching history at Albany High (the great jazz singer Denise Perrier was one of his students). … Continue reading »

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Bill Mandel, longtime KPFA broadcaster and Soviet expert, dies at 99

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William Marx “Bill” Mandel (born June 4, 1917 in New York City), a former Bay Area broadcast journalist, left-wing political activist and author, best known as a Soviet expert, died Nov. 24 at 1:15 a.m. Bill was 99.

Considered a leading Sovietologist during the 1940s and 1950s, Mandel was a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, but lost his position there due to the political pressures of the McCarthy era. He is perhaps best known for standing up to Senator … Continue reading »

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Remembering social activist, KPFA producer Frances Emley

Emley Frances and her dog Hope. Frances died on Dec. 1, 2015
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Frances Emley (Aug. 26, 1931 – Dec. 1, 2015)

Social activist and KPFA radio producer Frances Emley, whose clear voice reported for many years on the struggles of the powerless and disenfranchised, died peacefully in December. Many will remember her as the woman who walked her dogs on the Berkeley Pier wearing a matador hat.

A native of Wheeling, West Virginia, Frances helped out in her parents’ diner, Frazier’s Southern Lunch, as a child. She went on to earn a … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Lords, Ladies and the peasantry at KPFA — An allegory of the struggle at KPFA 94.1 FM

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Longtime KPFA listeners remember 1999 as the year of the Hijacking, the Lockout, and the massive response.  Ten thousand people marched through the streets of Berkeley chanting “Take back KPFA!” and “Save Pacifica!” And, as a matter of fact, KPFA and Pacifica Radio were rescued.  The good guys really had won, or so it seemed at the time. But today, in 2015, the struggle continues.

Sadly, this KPFA scenario is a common one in the affairs of humankind. I missed the … Continue reading »


Live Oak Park Fair is leaving Berkeley after 44 years

A glimpse of the 2011 Live Oak Park fair through a display of hula hoops. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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One of Berkeley’s most treasured outdoor celebrations, the Live Oak Park Fair, is leaving the city after 44 years.

Jan Etre, the producer of the fair since 1988, is moving it to the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond and turning it into a benefit for the radio station KPFA. It will still be a fair focused on the arts, but the June fair may be twice as large and will be known as the KPFA Summer Arts Fair.

“It’s been wonderful,” said Etre, who has worked on the fair for 27 years. “It’s been a joyful community garden party every year. We are sorry Live Oak is ending. We are all kind of sad but we see this is as a bigger, better picture.” … Continue reading »

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Mary Berg, host of KPFA’s ‘A Musical Offering’

mary berg
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On Jan. 31, Bay Area music-lovers will pay their respects to Mary Berg, whose Sunday morning reveries on Berkeley’s KPFA radio, the first public radio station in the United States, lulled generations of classical music fans into their final day of the weekend from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

“A Musical Offering” had a large and devoted audience who eagerly soaked up Berg’s passion for Bach and gentle, empathetic on-air voice. A devoted aficionado of early music, Berg scoured outlets … Continue reading »

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David Gans keeps on truckin’ with the Grateful Dead

The Sycamore Slough String Band will play live at the GD marathon. L to R: Dave Muhlethaler, David Gans, Roger Sideman, David Thom.     
Photo: Jamie Soja
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On Saturday, Feb 23, David Gans will walk into the studio at the Berkeley-based KPFA and put on a song by the Grateful Dead, thereby launching a 16-hour Dead marathon popular around the world. It will be the 27th time Gans has hosted the marathon, a fundraiser that nets thousands of dollars each year for the radio station.

Gans is now a Grateful Dead expert with a weekly syndicated radio show highlighting the band’s music. He is also the author of Playing in the Band: An Oral and Visual Portrait of the Grateful Dead, among other books, and a guitarist and accomplished songwriter. As Gans prepared for the Grateful Deal marathon, which will run from Sat. at 9 am to Sunday at 1 a.m. at 94.1 FM, Berkeleyside asked him how he started to love the band and why the music is so enduring.

When and where was the first time you heard the Grateful Dead? At what point did you fall in love with their music? And after having listened to it for decades, how have you not grown tired of the music?
My roommate and songwriting partner dragged me to a show on March 5, 1972. I found it attractive enough that I started listening to the records, and when the Dead came back to the Bay Area in August of that year I went to four shows in a week. … Continue reading »

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Latin flavors lie at the heart of Casa de Chocolates

Chocolatier Arcelia Gallardo and co-owner Amelia Gonzalez bring a taste of Latin America to The Elmwood. Photo: Omar Wandera
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Two Latinas originally from L.A, with a shared passion for chocolate, Mexico, and social justice, are combining forces to open Casa de Chocolates in The Elmwood today.

Amelia Gonzalez, 50, who worked for KPFA Radio for 20 years, most recently as general manager, was approached by chocolatier Arcelia Gallardo, 35, about coming on board as an angel investor for her artisan sweet treats store that pay homage to cacao’s Latin American heritage.

Gonzalez was interested, but also wanted to play an active role in the development of the budding business, which suited Gallardo, who preferred to focus on perfecting her products, handcrafted in small batches.

So Gonzalez, who has lived in Lima, Peru, and Oaxaca, Mexico, has handled everything from managing construction permits with the city to sourcing ancillary merchandise such as ceramics, tin boxes, and molinillo (wooden whisks for making Mexican hot chocolate), while her partner focuses on flavor pairings. … Continue reading »

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Another twist in the KPFA tale

Protest outside KPFA in November/Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The long-running dispute over management of local non-commercial radio station KPFA took another turn yesterday. The Pacifica Foundation, which owns and runs the station, reinstated former Morning Show co-host Brian Edwards-Tiekert with back pay and benefits. But Edwards-Tiekert will return to the station as a news reporter, not as a show host.

In a letter to supporters, Edwards-Tiekert wrote, “Legally speaking, Pacifica management is throwing in the towel… Pacifica has basically conceded it can’t win the pending arbitration … Continue reading »


Capacity crowd turns up to hear “tiger mom” Amy Chua

Amy Chua sold out
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Chua’s views on parenting have triggered an explosion of heated debate internationally after the Wall Street Journal ran a provocative excerpt of her book on January 8 titled “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior” (a headline she does not approve of). A number of people who had booked tickets online to see Chua in Berkeley were turned away after Brown Paper Tickets oversold the event.

More than 200 people, roughly half of whom were Asian, made it into the Hillside Club, several choosing to stand to hear Chua being interviewed for over an hour and a half by KPFA’s Aimee Allison. Chua, who has local roots in that her father, Leon O. Chua, teaches at UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering and she attended El Cerrito High School, spoke breathlessly about her memoir which, she said, had been misrepresented as a parenting guide. … Continue reading »

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Al Jazeera radio station comes to Berkeley airwaves

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Berkeley residents will be among the first in the country to get access to an hour-long radio news show produced by the Al Jazeera network.

The Pacifica Foundation announced on Monday that it would run the radio broadcasts on three of its stations – KPFA in Berkeley, WBAI in New York and KPFT in Houston.

The show was broadcast today in Berkeley, will start on Tuesday in the other cities and will be expanded to the … Continue reading »

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Hosts of KPFA’s Morning Show axed

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The executive director of the Pacifica Foundation laid off the staff of KPFA’s popular The Morning Show on Monday as part of a cost cutting measure.

Arlene Englehardt laid off co-hosts Aimee Allison and Brian Edwards-Tiekert on Monday and informed them by letter that they would be paid through Dec. 8.

“We come to you this morning with a heavy heart,” co-host Aimee Allison told KPFA listeners at 7 am this morning at what may be the last broadcast of … Continue reading »

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Protesters picket KPFA over staff cuts

Protest at KPFA in November/Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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More than 100 people marched outside KPFA headquarters on Martin Luther King Street at noon on Thursday to protest looming staff cuts.

The protesters, made up of paid and volunteer staff at the radio station and representatives from the Communication Workers of America, contend that a forthcoming proposal to cut workers is unnecessary. While the economic downturn has reduced donations by $500,000 and put a strain on KPFA’s $3.6 million budget, the real problem is not the local station, but … Continue reading »

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