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"We can get America back if we get ourselves back. "

Ray Hill: 160 Years? It could have been life!

KPFT, Houston, 1980 or 1981, Ray Hill

Ray Hill hosts the "Manager's Report" program. He manages to keep boring accounting data at a minimum and Wagner at a maximum.

I have slightly edited the recording. You hear some words bleeped where a caller gives out the purported real name of a controversial guest.

Based on the mention of the Reagan election victory, this material had to have been recorded in late 1980 or early 1981.

I was without a stereo tuner for a while, so this was recorded off of the FM band of a short-wave receiver. I found this item preserved in quarter track mono. It appears to be the last aircheck I ever recorded and kept.

Following Ray Hill, there is music, including a Reggae Against Racism and a rant against the British National Front. I'm sure the DJ chose some of the music in response to the guests on Ray Hill's show.

By the way, Ray Hill went on to very lively career, and he continues to boost the programming at Pacifica. A 2008 posting on the KPFT web site states:

Ray Hill, the Host of the Prison Show, was sentenced to 160 years in Texas prison. While in prison he became a jailhouse lawyer and reformed his sentence to just eight years.

Mr. Hill won four Federal suits against the City of Houston, including a landmark First Amendment U.S. Supreme Court Case: Houston v. Hill 107 S. Ct 2502.

In 2005, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Texas ACLU.

Perhaps Hill achieved his greatest visibility on KPFT back in the late 70's. As I recall, the program was on Friday afternoons, and it was hailed as "all day, all gay."

"They Bombed in Houston"

KAUM, Houston, January 17, 1971

This is not a KPFT recording, but it is related to the history of the station.

The above link is also listed among the KAUM material. It is repeated here because the program deals heavily with the two Pacifica bombings.



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Unless otherwise indicated, all commentary and photography on this site are by Grady McAllister.

Added March 21, 2008

"...There's no one more red, white and blue"

Phil Ochs at the Club of Our Own,
Houston, Texas, February, 1971

Until recently, no one had ever heard this recording but me. I recorded this in February, 1971, when Phil Ochs performed in Houston before a small audience. The show benefited Space City News, then the local alternative newspaper.

Located in The Village off Kirby, the nightclub was apparently converted from a theater. I made this casual cassette recording by dangling a microphone over the rail of the balcony.

One thing that made Ochs interesting was his perverseness. He could say good things about political adversaries such as Merle Haggard or John Wayne and turn around and criticize his own proponents on the left.

Notice the provocative lyric changes in "Love me, I'm a Liberal." He manages to take shots at dopers, hippies, liberals, radicals, and other kindred spirits.

Like a lot of 60's icons, Ochs has gradually been mainstreamed. He even has a page on the Country Music Television site. He did do country music of a type, but I don't think his songs were ever in heavy rotation on KIKK radio in Pasadena, Texas.

At times, it seems as if the 60's radicals have merged with corporate America.

A while back, I was startled to hear business guru Jeffrey J. Fox quote favorably from the Ochs song, "The Flower Lady." Fox is the author of numerous climb to the top books, including How To Become the CEO.

I always found Ochs clever and insightful and entertaining, but frequently not a reflection of my own opinions — not back in the day and definitely not now.

For example, I would not endorse the business practices of "The Highwayman." The highwayman was a man who robbed from the rich and gave to himself.

But seriously, folks, "The Highwayman" is not a real Ochs lyric. It draws its words from the famous poem by Alfred Noyes. Another song in this performance is "The Bells," based on a poem by Edgar Allan Poe. The rest of the performance appears to be original Ochs material.

Grady McAllister

Revised May 13, 2010

The All Music Guide biography of Phil Ochs.

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KPFT and Pacifica

Opinions expressed on these recordings or on other recordings on VASTHEAD.COM do not necessarily represent the opinions of the web site or its advertisers, writers, and contributors. They are presented for their historical interest and are not intended to promote any particular political cause.

Pacifica Airchecks from the 80's

KPFT, Houston, May 28, 1985-1

KPFT, Houston, May 28, 1985-2

Added March 21, 2008

Pacifica goes back on the air

KPFT, January 21, 1971, part 1

KPFT, January 21, 1971, part 2

The above items record KPFT's return to the air after the second of two bombings. I received the material from a source who asked to remain anonymous.

The Pacifica items listed below were recorded by me.

I deliberately held my Pacifica material back until most of my other recordings were already on line. To have put it up first would have given this site political connotations I would want to avoid.

By now, people familiar with the Houston Retro Radio pages know that listing items does not mean an endorsement of their political content.

People often get the wrong idea about this site. There are many things which it is not, and one thing it is not is a salute to the Old New Left.

Anyone who looks carefully at this web site knows that I am not the type to yell, "POWER TO THE POLITICALLY CORRECT PEOPLE!" in a crowded theater. You can search high and low and never find anything politically correct on any of these pages.

I present these Pacifica recordings as part of history. As for the merit of the politics, that is for the listener to decide.

The KPFT web site

KPFT, Houston, September, 1970

I kept this recording mainly for the Jean Shepherd material at the beginning. This was the first time I had heard him since KTRH had briefly carried his show five years earlier. This is the same Jean Shepherd who wrote for Playboy, and he is mentioned prominently in Marshall McLuhan's groundbreaking book Understanding Media (1964).

Old New Left Veterans will gravitate more toward the material about draft resisters in Sweden.

This was recorded sometime just before the second bombing of the KPFT transmitter.

Phil Ochs Interview

How I love the highway

Picks me up and takes me where ever I please

I race through the trees

Bring space to her knees

I am master of all that's flying past me.

Look how far we've come, look how far

A car, a car, my kingdom for a car

—Phil Ochs, My Kingdom for a Car (1970)

KPFT, Houston, May, 1971, Studs Terkel

In this broadcast, Studs Terkel interviews Phil Ochs. Ochs (pronounced "oaks") was a popular folk singer whose songs often expounded opinions well to the left.

A while back, a friend reminded me of the first time I heard Ochs. We were visiting the KFMK studio atop the Medical Towers Building. This was in its earliest days as an album rock station.

The DJ was playing the Phil Ochs song, "Outside of a Small Circle of Friends." He suddenly turned up the monitor when it got to the part about "smoking marijuana is more fun than drinking beer." I was amazed that something like that was in a song going out over the air.

Of course, the song is not a promotion of drugs. It is a criticism of the apathy that drugs tend to induce.

The song was from Pleasures of the Harbor, one of Ochs' least political albums. The year was 1967, and art rock was all the rage. It seemed that every well known musician had to have an equivalent to Sergeant Pepper, and "Pleasures" was Ochs' response.

I continued to follow Ochs development up to the time of this Terkel broadcast. His most recent album was his Greatest Hits, a record with no actual hits.

The cover shows Ochs dressed to mimic Elvis Presley on stage. The music draws its style from country and early rock and roll. There is more emphasis on nostalgia than on "progressive" politics.

Many of Ochs' New Left comrades were less than than thrilled with his apparent homage to middle America. Ochs explains his rationale in this broadcast.

In the five years after this interview, Ochs went into a personal and artistic decline. Phil Ochs took his own life in 1976.

Phill Ochs lyrics


KPFT, Houston, May, 1971, Studs Terkel

Studs Terkel interviews Harry Kalven, Jr, regarding his book Contempt. The book focuses on the contempt citations in the Chicago Seven Trials.

The defendants were accused creating a riot during the 1968 Democratic Party convention in Chicago. If you weren't around back then, bear in mind that one Hoffman is the judge and another Hoffman is one of the defendants.

Studs Terkel hosted one of the longest running talk programs in history, and KPFT carried it daily during this period.

The theme music on Stud's Place is "Bells" by The Pentangle. You only hear it at the end of the two Terkel broadcasts because I started each recording after the program had already begun.

Almost incongruously, Terkel was followed by a reading of The Lord of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien. Although Tolkien's fiction was then in vogue with hippies and the New Left, many of his political ideas would not meet modern standards for political correctness.