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Koland Youhg was a disc jockey at KSAN r...

Koland Youhg was a disc jockey at KSAN r... image Koland Youhg was a disc jockey at KSAN r... image
Parent Issue
Month
October
Year
1970
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Koland Youhg was a disc jockey at KSAN radio in San Francisco until December, l%9, when lie was fired Tor polilical reasons. The station's history and the changes it's gone through, particularly in the last six months, are representataive of major trends in hip-rock FM radio throughoutthenation. KSAN began early in 1968 in the aftermath of a strike at KMPX-KM.the first Bay Area station lo gear its programming directly toward soca lied hip voutli. The programming staff from KMPX approachcd the managers of Metromedia's K8FR, (hen a classieal tnusic station, with their idea for changing the station's entire make-up. And Mctromcdia acceptcd the proposal. Meli omedia knew what they were doing. The name of the company itself implies what they think of as important, and thcir corporate connections make 'their attitude elear. Metromedia owns Koster Keiser (outdoor advertising), the Traveller's 'linies (transit advertising), direct mail marketing outfits, televisión stations and syndicated televisión programming. In its animal report Metromedia states its fundamental principie: "A responsive broadcaster is a icsponsible broadcaster. " For a while there secined lo be gome question as to wlioni Metromedia was responsive. At first, questions of culture, music, general rapping and interviews were left to the disc jockeys and news broadcasters . The news director, Wes "Scoop" Nisker, created a new collage format for the news broadcasts. He spliced together taped speeches of people in the news and combined these quotes with sound effects and his own reading of the news. At the ond of each broadcast he reminded listeners, "If you didn't like the news, go out and make some of your own." Roland Young joined the station in August of 1968. .... People in the Bay Area dug KSAN because of the kind of music it playedand because the station catered lo the lifestyle of the listeners. But the Agnew crackdown . on media put the home office really uptight. They knew who they were supposed to be responsive to. And besides, the station hadn't been puiling in enough major advertising. Koland was fired. And Scoop "resigned" after being told that his produced news broadcasts wëre being phased out. Asa final purge, Larry Bensky, the radical news programmer who replaced Nisker, was given the axe. Since his firing, Koland has organized benefits for the Black Panther Party and written for the Panther paper. Kor a time he had a show on KPKA, a listener-sponsored KM station. Presently he is doing a show on KMPX-KM in San Krancisco. The following interview was composed from two laped conversa tions with Koland, one with Lincoln. Bergman, news director of KPKA, the other with Susan Adelman. Kathy Kettler, and Peter Wiley from Leviathan. Thanks to Leviathan for reprint rights.) 1}: Wheré was that subpoena from? Roland: It was from two federal lawyers from Washington and one secret service agent who hangs around the Bay Area. All three of them came down to the station in a classic intimidating situation. They stormed in- I wasn't there when they came in but I sawthem. They'rereal tallcats. Onewearsa big hat; they have on those grey suits, and you know, the greasy look. It really shook up the station manager. Roland: I got fired because of a statement I made on the air. I passed he message that a listener had callea in suggestine that those who suDDort David Hilliard's speech at the November 15 Moratorium and or his right of f ree speech, should send like telegrams to President Nixon. The station received a subpoena the next morning for a transcript of my program. Because I used to teil ' him about those people, but he didn'l know they existed. When they conyerged on the station, ihat reality was made very apparent to him. They lalked for hours, I would imagine And when I spokc with him later he said I think lasl night you weril loo lar. And when he said that I knew cxactly what that meant. He meant that I was fired. He said I have lo talk to the New York office, the New York attorney, the New York this, the New York thatso in the meantime, I'm going to keep you off the air. And I'll let you know tomorrow. He called me up and said I'm afraid I'm going to have to fire you. And so I said Hight On. Q: Thai was that. Koland: That was really that. Q: I (lont know what was in h is head. hut I imagine in CMiKulting with New York nne of the problem was llial you were popular as heil. And they had to keep Ihat in inind. too, because that's after all one of their lililíes. Roiand: Well, my popularity doesn't supersede a threat from the federal government. I guess that supersedes all kinds of popularity. I think they acted very unwisely to fire me because I didn't commit any Ilegal act I was not indicted for an Ilegal act. They will not be indicted for an illegal act. They're just clearly and simply yielding to the pressure of the federal government. Q: Wliat's the law? The law is advocacy, right? Roland: Sure. But Willis said I would have fired you anyway, because I think you went too far. What does going over too far mean? Does it mean that I don't say anything on the air that may upset the federal government, even though it may not be illegal? So that's a clear violation of freedom of speech. I'm even willing toaccept freedom of speech up to the point of breaking a law, I'll go that far with them. But if there isn'talawbroken, thenit'ssilly. They're going above and beyond the law themselves. So I think they're clearly acting in an unconstitutional manner. And I'm a lirm believer in the Constitution. And I'll fight for it, for my rights. (J: What kind of hassles have you had previously? Koland: I've never had direct political hassles. The KSAN management doesn't really want to offend ányone, that's their whole trip. But it's absolutely impossible to say anything without offending someone. You offend people every night. So it's not that they don't want to offend anyone, but just don't oftend the wrong person. }: You plirase this whole business with the firing and rverything in terms of vour support for the Panthers ;ind the attack on the Panthers. Roland: Sure. I see that the attack on me was clearly a part of the harrassment that's been going down throughout the nation against the Black Panther Party. Particularly considering that it was an issue related to David Hilliard. You read in the paper that they're doing an autopsy on the body of the Deputy Chairman, Fred Hampton, in Chicago. It seems he was shot in his sleep. Down in Los Angeles they shot tear gas into someone's house and raided the office simultaneously. These raids are going on every day against the Black Panther Party. They're really coming down on them and it means life or death. A lot of Panthers have been killed, at least 28. It's an attack on the entire Black Panther Party. And I just happen to be an individual victim of it. It's also part of the whole attack against media, part of an attack on free speech, and part of the rising tide of fascism - all hooked up together. I feel that fascism is definitely on the rise. Not only the Black Panther Party has been attacked. You find Nixon making very slanderous remarks against even a peaceful demonstration of people expressing their sympathies against the war. And at the same time you find this country involving itself more and more in imperialist wars abroad. The result is a lightening up al homo on dissent against these wars bccausc those wars are very vital to it. So when I say iising tide of lascism, I mean personal repression against all citizens, white or black, liberal or left . is going down. Q: Yiiu'vi' been nto the whole hip thing on KSAN and illa thut music and of course seen the movement go bat-k and forth aboul what the hippie thing is and what Ihal wliole cultural thing is and whether ifs positive or negativc and what it does in a period of political crises like this one. What are your ideas about that? Koland: Within itself youth culture has contradictory aspee ts. Right before the rise of fascism in Germany therc was a movement similar to part of the movement going on heie. That movement was coopted and turned into a fascist movement of young poople. Many of them became brownshirts. I see aspects capable of being revolutionary. Like within the hip movement there are class differences. The rock-and-roll element is a very bourgeois tendency within that movement and I think that element can be counted on to be successfully co-opted. But then you have other stranos represented by other people who - put out vai ïous underground papers, people like John Sinclair, Weatherman, whatever. And then there is a whole other trend cropping up that's probably even more relevant than any of those so far- young poor white people. groups like that. Whenyou talk about the hip scène you're talking about two strains, one very bourgeois and one very potentially revolutionary. There's some people in the Appalachian areas that are beginning to get it together. There are various black workers caucuses thát have popped up across the nation, now putting forth revolutionary demands that all workers can relate to. I see that as very positive. I see the Weathermen as a positive trend. And the cats that were charged in New York lor the bombings there Some people are responding on that level. And it must be legal, because the U.S practices bombing daily, so I know that they think that's a good thing . I know that Nixon would approve of that. Right On, he'd say. I see that as positive too. But also in order to have a successful revolution, we're going to have to have a large mass-hased movement with a general understanding of wnat we, want to do. And I would never say that young people are the agente for change, particularly young whites, so-called hippies. I think cney're just acting out their alienation ui a very cieative mönner. The spiritual oppression of the young white hip scène is another thing, but a lot of times it doesn't relate to revolutionizing people because it was founded on antirevolutionary principies of individualism. The conditions of young people always make them more ready to bring about revolutions. They're always in the more mobile position, they have more energy, they're younger, they're faster and they fight better. We know they have J"nt;nes. But the people who are out doing the fighting aren't necessarily the sole agents of the revolution. The National Liberation Front of South Vietnam is primarily made up of young people, but the agents of change are the whole mass of people, not just those young people. Because without all the other people doing the other things, those young people couldn't do anything. The agents of change will not be just young people. The issue of revolution relates to class consciousness and the level of the material oppression of people. I think the masses of working peoDle - black and white- are the people who, in the fina' analysis . have to be persuaded over to the side of revolution before we can expect any kind of change in this country and its stuDid t0 think any other way The Red Army will have to depend on the people to be a successful army. The reason that in any other country they've had a successful revolution is not necessarily because all the people fought, but because most of the people at least supported the fighters, on one level or another, and allowed them to be able to do what they were doing. We're talking about revolution, not just the fighting. Plus young people are not a stable group of people, and you can't put faith in an agency for change that's an unstable element. That's like assuming the lumpen proletariat will bring about revolution. (f: The hippie thing is changed in the sense that it's not t-xactly disappèared, but . . . Roland: As a thing within itself, it has. It's shown its contradictions now. Q: Yeah, I know a lot of people who've lived in the llaighl, and others who didn't live there but who were int a similar kind of thing in different places who are not in a veryserious communal existence that they oever were into when they were in the Haight. Roland: Sure, because there were some definitely rare people who came out of it and were into that. Let's move into the black movement now, because the black movement has parallel trends. I always looked at the rise of hippie-ism- it came along primarily with the rise of black power. And they were both movements of young people. Now older people have usurped both of them. Older capitalists and pigs in the same ways. Like black power has been put forth through the media on black stations, like hippie-ism haL been putforthon white stations- to sell producís. The same thing has happened to them. They both represented a parallel trend and that black power movement is equally split up today as the whole hippie thing is behind some of the same kinds of splits. But it seems as though the struggle in the black community is much more politica) than cultural in the final analysis, and the struggle in the white community is still very heavily cultural. There seems to be that difference. Q: The critique that hippies offer to politicoes still oxists in a sense. Roland: By the way I also think a whole lot of black folks could offer that critique too. Cause what hippies are from is a life style similar to black people's life style in a way. Q: 1 was just thinking that a lot of people who were int the hippie thing before are operating in a much more serious way. Still in a narrow sense we wouldn't cali them politkal. They still tend toward a kind of csiapism. They don't see that they can effect history. Roland: I feel very optimistic that change, significant change, can come about in the world Par" ticularly starting in this country But more and more I'm convinced we got to get to the people. Without the people we can forget about it. There's just no revolution without certain support from the people. These isolated things, for instance, this thing that went down in Berkeley (the TDA riots), m many ways will end up having absolutely no effect on anything, maybe even an adverse effect. What happened after breaking those píate glass Windows? In fact workers were hurt by it. It didn't really hurt the pigs at all cause they're insured; they don't give a damn anyway. But you got to be very careful when you do these kinds of things. Like I remember being in üakland during Stop the Draft Week. They wanted to just take people's cars, turn them over, and block the streets with them. I thought that was a very foul attitude. Because a lot of people lived around there. They were residents of the area.They weren't wealthy people. They were working people. Ana they themselves were directly hurt by those actions. It was like the same critique Fred Hampton offered the Weathermen about thpir actions in Chicago - bringing heat down on black people. They do one thing here, and as a result who suffered? It gives the pigs a pretext to come into the black community. I can dig what's going down in Berkeley. You've got to dig it, it's a positive thing. I relate to them, man it's right on. But the only things is...How do you judge positive things? Do you judge them by the effect they have or by the act in itself? Is it positive to kill a pig or is it positive to kill a pig because half the people realize that pigs must be offed? Q: VVlicn the Rolling Stones were at Altaniont about :i(M).O(M) people were there, but there hasn't been a single mass demonstration having to do with the shootings in Chicago. Koland: 1 think about the Rolling Stones demonstration. Mick Jagger was contacted and asked to make a public appeal for support of the Black Panther Defense Fund. He said not only would he not do that, but if any political speeches were made on the stage, they woudn't play. And this is the group that put out "Street Fighting Man." See, it's a shuck and it's a sham. I have little faith in rock-and-roll and rock-androll entertainers overall as being anything in this society but very bourgeois sell-out people. Which they prove to be. tj: I' ve always had a sense that people confuse the fact that the Kolling Slones made "Street Fighting Man"butactcdanotherway. Itjustseems tome that it was inevitable that they would lead a certain kind of life il tlu-v were millionaires ■ Koland: Pop music is good becausethe masses of people can relate to it- a kind everyone can dig on- but inherently it has problems being revolutionary. The music is, well, Marcuse undi-rstands what it is. It's the ability the society has to incorpórate anything into it. and turn it into a commercial item. Total co-optation. Like rock-androll at its most revolutionary stages became mysterious. As people's curiosities rise, their ability and desire to consume also rises. Ad men ease in on that, Till that void by making that which was once a protest actüally a saíable item. That's what was going on at KSAN . That was clearly my role there. A salable 'tem. Whatevercontroversial things may have gone down in my program, they used tolet them go down, cause it makes more people listen and we can case these products in on them while they're digging Iheir controversy. I think the politics a lot of rock-and-roll stars themsclves espouse and the commercialism of how that art iorm is put to people. via the ads, via record sales and so iorth, has had the effect of causing certain kinds of political attitudes to go along with the entire trip. Now in order to be a successful rock-androll star, to sell a lot of records, to be on televisión a lot and make radio appearances, you have to stay within certain kinds of political understandings oí the society, Nash coming on the stage and making the statement politics he did at Altamont. He said politics is Imllshit. of course. And you find those people out there at the Moratorium responding to the cast of Hair. which is one oi the most bourgeois decadent trips that has ever-gone down. On the other hand you have them booing David Hilliard. {: ou have said that until three years ago rock-androll coiitributed to pushing things totheleft. but that it couldn't do that any more. Koland: ! 'hink it's reached its saturation point now. Music has puched people as far as they can ba pusheel and Deople have pushed themselves as far as they can push without moving to another level. Looking at Senta Barbara, Buflalo College, the Black Panther Party, Los Siete, throughout the nation, we see that the only way peopte can now ai.: effectively if they are going to get some concessions, this small particularly since repression is coming down like t ís today. So you have David Crosby of Crosby, Stills and Continued on page 30