Wednesday, January 9, 2013

KPFA Studios, 2207 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA

KPFA Studios
2207 Shattuck Avenue (above Edy's Ice Cream)
Berkeley, California

1946 Lewis Hill moves from Washington DC to the San Francisco Bay Area and begins work toward creating the first listener supported non-commercial radio station in the United States.

1949 KPFA's first-ever broadcast was on April 15, 1949, from the still-under-construction studio atop the 6-storey Kroeber Building at 2050 University Avenue, Berkeley.

1954 An on-the-air discussion of the effects of marijuana results in the California Attorney General impounding the program tape.

1955 Poets Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti bring the Beat Generation to the airwaves. A few years later the FCC questions Pacifica's broadcast of some of their works as "vulgar, obscene and in bad taste.
Live folk music was originally aired from the first KPFA studios atop the Kroeber Building with Barry Olivier, listed in the KPFA Folio as "Folk Music (live)". The show continued with Barry and Helen Olivier thru September 13, 1958; it was first listed in the Folio as "Midnight Special" for the March 8, 1958 show.
The show was first hosted by Gert Chiarito at the new studios at 2207 Shattuck atop the Edy's Ice Cream Building on September 20, 1958, and Gert terminated the show on June 17, 1966. [6]
1960-1963 The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee (SISS) investigate Pacifica programming for "subversion." Suspected writers include Bertolt Brecht, Norman Cousins, Carey McWilliams, Dorothy Healey, and W.E.B. DuBois.
1960 The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requests a tape of a Pacifica broadcast of poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti that it found "in bad taste" with "strong implications against religion, government, the president, law-enforcement and racial groups"-- and demands full information on Pacifica finances and governance.

1962 KPFK broadcasts women's history profiles of Dorothy Healey and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn--programs that are later used in SISS Hearings charging Pacifica is communist infiltrated.

1962 WBAI is the first station to publicly broadcast former FBI agent Jack Levine's expose of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. The program is followed by threats of arrests and bombings, as well as pressure from the FBI, the Justice Department, and major broadcast networks.

1962 The FCC withholds the license renewals of KPFA, KPFB, and KPFK pending its investigation into "communist affiliations." Pacifica was never ultimately cited in any of these or subsequent inquiries. Ironically, the FCC chair later denounces the broadcasting industry for not defending Pacifica during its investigation of the foundation.

1967 Pacifica broadcasts a live interview with Latin American leader Che Guevara months before he is killed in Bolivia.

1970 Federal agents ultimately arrest a Klansman and charge him with plotting to blow up KPFA.

1973 Pacifica provides gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings.

1974 The Symbionese Liberation Army delivers the Patty Hearst tapes to KPFA/Berkeley and KPFK/Los Angeles. KPFK manager Will Lewis is jailed for refusing to turn the tapes over to the FBI.

1990 The KPFA News wins multiple awards for their round-the-clock coverage of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area.

1991 KPFA/Berkeley moves into its newly constructed building on Martin Luther King Blvd. in September.

1999 On July 31, 10,000 Bay Area residents demonstrate in Berkeley, demanding the reopening of KPFA, which had been shut down by Pacifica's then Chair Mary Frances Berry and Executive Director Lynn Chadwick in a dispute over control of the station. Chadwick and Berry relent and KPFA begins broadcasting again in early August.[1]

Jerry performed here "on air" in
John "The Cool" Winter
Barbara Meier recalls, "We'd go to parties or drive over to KPFA {in Berkeley}. Little impromptu gigs and parties would turn up."[2]

Winter 1962 Phil Lesh, Gert Charito
They'd seen each other around, but at a party at Pogo's, Lesh remarked, "Jerry, you sing and play good. I work for KPFA, how'd you like to be on the radio?" "Why not, what do we have to do?" "I'll go up to Berkeley and get this tape recorder, and we'll make what amounts to a demo, and I'll play it for Gert [Chiarito, the producer of The Midnight Special folk show]." Gert Chiarito was so impressed that she had Garcia do an entire show solo, a virtually unprecedented event on The Midniight Special. She interviewed him about his music, and then he played. He was just nineteen. She remembered that he played "Long Black Veil", and the "sad distant country" tone of it moved her. She was particularly startled toward the end of the hour to notice his missing finger. "He was playing as though he had everything and a few extras."[2][3]

1963 Ron "Pigpen" McKernan
Pigpen remembered in 1970:
"We played Gert Chiarito's Midnight Special show on KPFA. Me and Jerry did one. I played harmonica and Jerry played guitar."[1]

"Usually it was more of a folk revival kind of thing and I don't think there were really the venues for it. There was no place like the Ash Grove or the Club 47 in Northern California, so we ended up doing things like playing on Gert Chiarito's program on KPFA and things like that — that was about as public as you could get. And then we'd play at these little tourist places in North Beach."[1]

A Black Mountain Boys anecdote from Eric Thompson:
"I remember one time [the Black Mountain Boys] went to a real country dance hall in a place like Richmond [California, near Berkeley] and we played some tunes and these guys were very nice to us. They said 'That's a nice bluegrass sound.' They played Ernest Tubbs stuff in those places. You came in and you stamped your hand with a blue fluorescent stamp, and there was a bar in the back and there were fights. It was sawdust on a big wood floor. But we didn't make a lot of contact with that world. That was one of the few times we did. Usually it was more of a folk revival kind of thing and I don't think there were really the venues for it. There was no place like the Ash Grove or the Club 47 in Northern California, so we ended up doing things like playing on Gert Chiarito's program on KPFA and things like that — that was about as public as you could get. And then we'd play at these little tourist places in North Beach."(5)

8/23/70 Grateful Dead
KCBS TV, KSAN FM broadcast on 8/30/70.
"There were only two Calebration broadcasts. The first one comprised sets by Boz Scaggs and Linda Ronstadt, and the second was the Dead, followed by R&B singer Swamp Dogg, and then by Quicksilver - each played about 30 minutes. All were clearly recorded in the same studio, but it was NOT KQED. I believe the show was broadcast on KCBS, with the FM feeds at KSAN and another commercial station."[4]

Jerry was interviewed here on
Grateful Dead Hour #68

8/13/90 Jerry, Brent Mydland interview
Grateful Dead Hour #99

7/29/91 and Phil Lesh, David Grisman interview
Grateful Dead Hour #149

10/21/91 interview on songwriting
Grateful Dead Hour #161

8/30/93 and Bob Weir interview
Grateful Dead Hour #258

12/6/93 Ken Nordine rehearsals
Grateful Dead Hour #272

4/28/81 Jerry interview
Grateful Dead Hour #414 aired 8/26/96

4/28/81 Jerry interview
Grateful Dead Hour #415, aired 9/2/96,

Grateful Dead Hour #415, aired 9/2/96,
There were no performances on these dates.

12/90  with David Grisman interview
Grateful Dead Hour #149
They're from Rex Radio, Phil Lesh's show.  He and Gary Lambert are the hosts.  Grisman received the 1990 Ralph J. Gleason Award and so he was featured in the 12/90 program. Jerry came along for the interview, so it's mostly Dawg and Jerry. Wonderful interview!


KPFA Studios, Berkeley, CA
1.)^McKernan, Ron "Pigpen", 1970,,
2.)^Jackson, Blair, Garcia: An American Life, pg.41, 59.
3.)^Grateful Dead FM Broadcasts, 2011-02-25,
4.)^crypdev, comments, 2013-09-06,
6.)^Mandel, Dave, former KPFA radio programer/DJ summer 1961, comments, 2014-10-21,


  1. Hi Dave,
    I've updated the page. Let me know if I missed anything. Thanks.

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