History of Pacifica Radio Archives

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About the Archives

The Pacifica Radio Archives (PRA) are the custodians of programming produced by the Pacifica Foundation Radio stations:

KPFA in San Francisco (established 1949);

KPFK in Los Angeles (established 1959);

WBAI in New York City (established 1960);

KPFT in Houston (established 1970); and

WPFW in Washington, D.C. (established 1977).

PRA began digitizing recordings and re-mastering or restoring material in 1999. Since then, PRA has restored thousands of historical recordings initiated by partner projects or guided by customer requests. As of 2013, we have digitized about one fifth of our entire holdings, and we are continually acquiring materials from former staff and donors.

About the Foundation

PRA are not the custodians of Pacifica Foundation Radio's institutional history, so we will provide just a brief overview of the Foundation's history here.

Pacifica founder Lewis Hill's mission was to create a new kind of radio, supported by listeners, owing nothing to sponsors, providing an outlet for creative expression, and a safe haven for artistic experiments with the radio medium. Predating National Public Radio by nearly 30 years, the Pacifica Network established their first radio station, KPFA in San Francisco, on April 15, 1949, followed by KPFK, WBAI, KPFT, and WPFW over the next 28 years. Perhaps best known as a chronicler of social justice movements and cultural change, the Pacifica stations have consistently embraced the performing and literary arts, offering sometimes the only forum for cutting edge and classical arts, and providing a stage to experiment with radio drama, spoken word, sound sculpture and the art of radio documentary.

Here is a brief timeline of notable Pacifica Radio historic moments:

August 24, 1946: The Pacifica Foundation files for incorporation in the State of California.

August 16, 1950: IRS grants tax-exempt status to Pacifica.

August 4, 1954: Position of president of Pacifica created. Founder Lewis Hill returns to Pacifica Radio.

To find out more about the Pacifica Foundation's history, visit Pacifica Foundation Radio's history page and check out these books: