David Barsamian

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David Barsamian
David Barsamian photographed in San Francisco, California on May 22, 2014
David Barsamian giving a lecture called 'The Twilight of Capitalism' at a ZOMTalks event in Lebanon hosted by ARF's Zavarian Student Association on February 23, 2016.[1]
BornJune 14, 1945
OccupationFounder and Director of Alternative Radio

David Barsamian (born 1945) is an Armenian-American radio broadcaster, writer, and the founder and director of Alternative Radio, a Boulder, Colorado-based syndicated weekly public affairs program heard on some 250 radio stations worldwide.[2]

Barsamian started working in radio in 1978 at KGNU in Boulder, Colorado and then KRZA in Alamosa, Colorado.[3]

Articles by (and interviews with) Barsamian have appeared regularly in The Progressive, The Sun and Z Magazine. Barsamian also lectures on U.S. foreign policy, corporate control, the media, and propaganda. He is particularly well known for his interview series with Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Edward Said, Eqbal Ahmad, Howard Zinn, and Tariq Ali, which have been collected into books.

In 1986, David Barsamian took the initiative to do more than critique the media. Frustrated by corporate media's lack of progressive, radical voices, he founded Alternative Radio. Now aired on more than 250 radio stations, Barsamian's journalism is well-respected around the world for analyzing the world's most pressing social, economic and environmental problems and exploring possible solutions to them.

Barsamian was born in New York in 1945 to refugees who had fled the Turkish genocide of Armenians. He grew up with a strong interest in international issues, which developed further during an extended period in India in the 1960s. He regards that time as a major influence: "I was surrounded by some of that country's greatest musicians and poets. I learned so much, including Urdu, Hindi and Bengali. It was like getting a graduate education in South Asia." These early experiences gave him the cultural and political awareness that has been the foundation of his journalism.

In 1978, Barsamian volunteered at KGNU community radio in Boulder, Colorado. Over eight years at KGNU, he learned the essentials of radio journalism—listening, interviewing, writing, producing, on-air skills. He even edited reel-to-reel tape with razor blades and wax pencils. He hosted and produced two KGNU shows, "Ganges to the Nile," an international cultural program, and "Hemispheres," a political program. In 1986, he uplinked a two-and-a-half hour program with Noam Chomsky to the public radio satellite. Though most radio stations preferred half hour or one hour segments, a few stations picked up the program. That long conversation with Chomsky was the beginning of Alternative Radio.

Barsamian is critical of power in the U.S. and elsewhere, which has consequences. In 2011, at New Delhi airport, he was denied entry to India. Immigration officials forced him to return to the U.S., offering no explanation. Some theorize that he was blacklisted after broadcasting Arundhati Roy's criticism of India's treatment of people in Kashmir. Many prominent Indians spoke out against the travel ban, and Barsamian did as well: "This arbitrary action ... is not a sign of strength of Indian democracy; it's rather a sign of weakness. A healthy, vibrant democracy should include a rainbow of different opinions, different perspectives, and points of view and it should embrace those differences rather than seeking to impose a uniformity of thought and opinion." Since visiting Iran in 2016, he has repeatedly been detained and questioned at U.S. airports.

Founding Alternative Radio was Barsamian's personal attempt to meet the goals of public broadcasting: "to serve as a forum for controversy and debate" and "to provide a voice for groups that may otherwise be unheard." Because mainstream media oversimplifies debate and leaves out so many voices, alternative media outlets play a crucial role in American democracy. In Barsamian's view, "it was unacceptable that many of this country's greatest and most articulate radical voices had no forum on public radio. Alternative Radio was created to be the vehicle for progressive perspectives that are otherwise ignored or given short shrift."

After more than thirty years of AR, Barsamian continues to speak up for those who are unheard or ignored.


Year Title Publisher ISBN Notes
1992 Chronicles of Dissent Common Courage Press ISBN 0-96288-388-3 Interviews with Noam Chomsky
Stenographers to Power: Media and Propaganda Common Courage Press ISBN 0-96288-385-9 Interviews with Noam Chomsky
1994 Keeping the Rabble in Line Common Courage Press ISBN 1-56751-033-7 Interviews with Noam Chomsky
1994 The Pen and the Sword Haymarket Books (2010 reprint) ISBN 1-93185-995-7 Interviews with Edward Said
1994 Secrets, Lies and Democracy Odonian Press ISBN 1-87882-504-6 Interviews with Noam Chomsky; part of The Chomsky Trilogy (ISBN 1-87882-507-0); part of The Chomsky Quartet (ISBN 1-87882-516-X)
1994 The Prosperous Few and the Restless Many Odonian Press ISBN 1-87882-503-8 Interviews with Noam Chomsky; part of The Chomsky Trilogy (ISBN 1-87882-507-0); part of The Chomsky Quartet (ISBN 1-87882-516-X)
1994 What Uncle Sam Really Wants Odonian Press ISBN 1-87882-501-1 Interviews with Noam Chomsky; part of The Chomsky Trilogy (ISBN 1-87882-507-0); part of The Chomsky Quartet (ISBN 1-87882-516-X)
1996 Class Warfare Pluto Press ISBN 1-56751-092-2 Interviews with Noam Chomsky
1998 The Common Good Odonian Press ISBN 1-87882-508-9 Interviews with Noam Chomsky; part of The Chomsky Quartet
1999 The Future of History Common Courage Press ISBN 1-56751-157-0 Interviews with Howard Zinn
2017 Confronting Empire Haymarket Books ISBN 0-89608-615-1 Interviews with Eqbal Ahmad
2001 The Decline and Fall of Public Broadcasting Haymarket Books ISBN 0-89608-654-2
2001 Propaganda and the Public Mind Pluto Press ISBN 0-74531-788-X Interviews with Noam Chomsky
2001 9-11 Seven Stories Press ISBN 1-58322-489-0 Interviews with Noam Chomsky
2001 Terrorism: Theirs and Ours Seven Stories Press ISBN 1-58322-490-4 Interviews with Eqbal Ahmad
2003 The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile Haymarket Books ISBN 0-89608-710-7 Interviews with Arundhati Roy
2003 Culture and Resistance Pluto Press ISBN 0-74532-017-1 Interviews with Edward Said
2004 Louder Than Bombs: Interviews from The Progressive Magazine South End Press ISBN 0-89608-725-5
2005 Imperial Ambitions: Conversations With Noam Chomsky On The Post-9/11 World (The American Empire Project) Macmillan ISBN 1-42998-081-8
2005 Speaking of the Empire and Resistance: Interviews with Tariq Ali The New Press ISBN 1-56584-954-X
2006 Original Zinn: Conversations on History and Politics with David Barsamian HarperCollins (2009 reprint) ISBN 0-06175-141-3 Interviews with Howard Zinn
2007 Targeting Iran City Lights Books ISBN 0-87286-458-8 Interviews with Noam Chomsky, Ervand Abrahamian and Nahid Mozaffari
2007 What We Say Goes: Conversations on U.S. Power in a Changing World (The American Empire Project) Macmillan ISBN 0-80508-671-4 Interviews with Noam Chomsky
2012 Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism City Lights Books ISBN 0-87286-568-1 Interviews with Richard Wolff
2013 Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire (The American Empire Project) Macmillan ISBN 0-80509-616-7 Interviews with Noam Chomsky
2017 Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy (The American Empire Project) Macmillan ISBN 1-250-14618-6 Interviews with Noam Chomsky
2020 ReTargeting Iran City Lights Publishers ISBN 0-87286-804-4 Interviews with Ervand Abrahamian, Christopher de Bellaigue, Noam Chomsky, Nader Hashemi, Trita Parsi, Laura Secor


Year Film Notes
1992 Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media Credited in the acknowledgments as a source for archival audio,[4] appeared onscreen as an interviewer[5]
2006 Independent Intervention
2013 Targeting Iran Interviewee in documentary based on his book of the same name[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Reference from Aztag Daily, the daily newspaper of the Lebanese Armenian community.
  2. ^ "David Barsamian hits Calgary". FFWD – Calgary Blogs – The Howler. Archived from the original on October 31, 2009. Retrieved April 19, 2010.
  3. ^ "David Barsamian - Americans Who Tell The Truth". Americans Who Tell The Truth. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  4. ^ "David Barsamian". IMDb. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
  5. ^ Roy, Arundhati (September 29, 2011). "The dead begin to speak up in India". The Guardian. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
  6. ^ "Targeting Iran (2013)". IMDb. Retrieved February 24, 2014.

External links[edit]