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KPFK Radio Logo.jpg
Broadcast areaSouthern California
Frequency90.7 MHz
BrandingKPFK 90.7 FM
FormatPublic Radio
AffiliationsPacifica Radio
OwnerPacifica Foundation
First air date
July 26, 1959 (62 years ago)
Call sign meaning
Technical information
Facility ID51252
ERP110,000 watts
HAAT863.0 meters (2,831.4 ft)
Transmitter coordinates
34°13′45″N 118°4′3″W / 34.22917°N 118.06750°W / 34.22917; -118.06750
Translator(s)See § Translators and booster
Repeater(s)See § Translators and booster
WebcastListen LiveMP3 Edit this at Wikidata

KPFK (90.7 FM) is a listener-sponsored radio station based in North Hollywood, California, United States, which serves Southern California, and also streams 24 hours a day via the Internet. It was the second of five stations in the non-commercial, listener-sponsored Pacifica Foundation network.

KPFK 90.7 FM began broadcasting in April 1959,[1][2] twelve years after the Pacifica Foundation was created by pacifist Lewis Hill, and ten years after the network's flagship station, KPFA, was founded in Berkeley. KPFK also broadcasts on booster KPFK-FM1 along the Malibu coast, K258BS (99.5 MHz) in China Lake, K254AH (98.7 MHz) in Isla Vista and K229BO 93.7 MHz in Rancho Bernardo, San Diego.

With its 110,000-watt main transmitter atop Mount Wilson, KPFK is one of the most powerful FM stations in the western United States. The station can be heard from the California/Mexico border to Santa Barbara to Ridgecrest/China Lake. A second 10-watt translator is licensed in Isla Vista, California, a census-designated place outside Santa Barbara. The transmitter for that station is located atop Gibraltar Peak, allowing its broadcast to be heard over a large portion of southern Santa Barbara County.


The station is part of the Pacifica Network which has 5 radio stations besides KPFK, and provides programming to over 150 affiliates.

Operating costs are covered primarily by donations from listener-sponsors and sponsored events. The 501(c)3 non-profit station runs no paid commercial advertisements or sponsored programming. Memberships at a minimum donation of $25 allow participation in the election of Local Station Board members.

Local station board[edit]

In two years during a three-year cycle, station members and staff elect the Local Station Board as required by the Pacifica Foundation bylaws.[3] The KPFK local station board elects members from its body to the Pacifica Foundation board of directors and has support and advisory duties for the station. The full local station board meets monthly, and committees of the local station board meet on both regular and ad hoc bases.


Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei as a guest in historian Jon Wiener's radio show on KPFK, 2017.

Like all Pacifica stations, KPFK has, since its inception run an eclectic schedule of performing arts, public affairs, and news. Many programs are available through the Pacifica Network [4] for rebroadcast to affiliate stations and are streamed for a limited period on the Online Archives.[5]

Maintaining its adherence to Pacifica founder Lew Hill's Mission,[6] KPFK focuses on news, public affairs, and performance of local interest, while blending in nationally and internationally focused programming.

Programming is primarily English language, but includes twenty-two hours broadcast in Spanish five evenings per week, Monday - Thursday, and Saturday.

With the rest of the Pacifica Foundation stations and in accord with the Mission's commitment to dialogue, KPFK maintains community access to the airwaves, which was stated as:

"To establish a Foundation organized and operated exclusively for educational purposes no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any member of the Foundation.

To establish and operate for educational purposes, in such manner that the facilities involved shall be as nearly self-sustaining as possible, one or more radio broadcasting stations licensed by the Federal Communications Commission and subject in their operation to the regulatory actions of the Commission under the Communications Act of 1934, As Amended.

In radio broadcasting operations to encourage and provide outlets for the creative skills and energies of the community; to conduct classes and workshops in the writing and producing of drama; to establish awards and scholarships for creative writing; to offer performance facilities to amateur instrumentalists, choral groups, orchestral groups and music students; and to promote and aid other creative activities which will serve the cultural welfare of the community.{mosimage}

In radio broadcasting operations to engage in any activity that shall contribute to a lasting understanding between nations and between the individuals of all nations, races, creeds and colors; to gather and disseminate information on the causes of conflict between any and all of such groups; and through any and all means compatible with the purposes of this corporation to promote the study of political and economic problems and of the causes of religious, philosophical and racial antagonisms.

In radio broadcasting operations to promote the full distribution of public information; to obtain access to sources of news not commonly brought together in the same medium; and to employ such varied sources in the public presentation of accurate, objective, comprehensive news on all matters vitally affecting the community."[6]


KPFK was founded in 1959 as the second station of the Pacifica Foundation. Terry Drinkwater was its first General Manager.

In 1960, KPFK won Pacifica's second George Foster Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting.[7] In 1962, the FCC withheld the license renewals of KPFA, KPFB, and KPFK, pending its investigation into "communist affiliations." Pacifica was never cited (see The Investigator).

In 1963, KPFK ran the very first Renaissance fair as a fundraiser called the Renaissance Pleasure Faire and May Market (the event was managed by Theme Events Limited).[8] At the 1964 fair, Art Kunkin distributed The Faire Free Press, a one-shot eight-page tabloid[9][10] with the "Los Angeles Free Press" logo appearing on an inside page. While the outside pages were a spoof of the Faire's Renaissance theme, featuring cute stories like one about a "ban the crossbow" demonstration, the inside contained legitimate underground community news and reviews. Five thousand copies were printed, of which 1,200 sold at a price of 25 cents. After the Faire ended, Kunkin circulated a brochure to potential investors and found enough backing to start putting out the paper on a regular weekly basis in July 1964. The Los Angeles Free Press was initially produced mostly by unpaid volunteers, many of them were the same people who volunteered at KPFK, where Kunkin had his own political commentary radio show.[11]

Peter Bergman's Radio Free Oz was first broadcast on July 24, 1966. The Firesign Theatre first appeared on Radio Free Oz on November 17, 1966. The Fireside Theatre produced the live radio program Dear Friends on KPFK in 1970–1971. Twenty-one episodes aired between September 16, 1970, and February 17, 1971. Dear Friends was followed with the KPFK show Let's Eat! in 1971 and 1972.[12]

In 1974, Will Lewis, the general manager of the station at the time, famously refused to turn over tapes acquired from the Symbionese Liberation Army after the terrorist group's kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patty Hearst. After repeated requests by the FBI and being subpoenaed, Lewis cited the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press[13] to no avail at a grand jury and was sent to federal prison for 15 days at Terminal Island.[14] Lewis was finally released by Supreme Court justice William O. Douglas.[15] Lewis shared a prison cell with controversial LSD guru Timothy Leary.[citation needed] Lewis was just the second media representative to ever be sent to jail on a freedom of the press issue.[16]

Lewis' progressive changes at KPFK during the 1970s[17] turned the Pacifica station into one of the most popular in the nation, where many celebrity activists were able to express their views without censorship from mainstream media. Actors Martin Sheen, Paul Newman, Jane Fonda and her then-politician husband Tom Hayden, who stood trial in the Chicago Seven case, were among many high-profile visitors at the station during Lewis' leadership.[citation needed]

Lewis was a manager ahead of his times. In 1974, he was the first to introduce a radio show produced and hosted exclusively by and for the gay community — "The Great Gay Radio Conspiracy"[18] as Greg Gordon, Enrich Murrello, and Colin McQueen began the program at 11 pm the third Tuesday of every month. This controversial program eventually was referred to as "IMRU," as it created great consternation for a mostly conservative audience. Today, the program is still a fixture on KPFK as the longest-running LBGTQ program some 48 years later.[citation needed]

KPFK was the only full-service public radio station in Los Angeles during the early 1970s. Lewis and the station won awards for its Watergate coverage, including the Golden Mike Award for reporter Mike Hodel.[19]

Jerker, a Robert Chesley play dramatizing the reflections of a man dying of AIDS, aired on KPFK on August 31, 1986. Because it included graphic sexual language, the FCC ruled that it violated an indecency policy.[20][21]

In 1987, Ladysmith Black Mambazo made their first on-air U.S. radio broadcast on KPFK.

In 1992, CPB Board member Victor Gold targeted KPFK for strident African American programming and controversial speech aired during Black History Month, by filing an FCC complaint.

Translators and booster[edit]

In addition to the main station, KPFK is relayed by an additional four translators and one booster to widen its broadcast area.

Call sign Frequency
City of license ERP
Class FCC info Notes
K258BS 99.5 China Lake, California 9 D FCC FM Query
K254AH 98.7 Isla Vista, California 10 D FCC FM Query
KPFK-FM1 90.7 Malibu, California 1,500 D FCC FM Query Booster
K229BO 93.7 Rancho Bernardo, Etc., California 10 D FCC FM Query
K212FA 90.3 Temple City, California 10 D FCC FM Query


  1. ^ "About Pacifica - A Short History". Retrieved 2012-02-22.
  2. ^ Blaine, John; Baker, Decia, eds. (1973). "Support Groups". Community Arts of Los Angeles (Report). Los Angeles Community Art Alliance. p. 49. hdl:10139/2728. OCLC 912321031.
  3. ^ "The Pacifica Foundation".
  4. ^ "Pacifica Network - Broadcasting Network for Grassroots Community Radio".
  5. ^ "KPFK Public Radio - Online Archives Archive".
  6. ^ a b "The Pacifica Foundation".
  7. ^ "Institutional Award: KPFK Radio for Locally Produced Programs". Peabody Award. Retrieved January 7, 2023.
  8. ^ Thomas, Peter; Kember, Michael; Sneed, Richard J (1987), The Faire: Photographs and History of the Renaissance Pleasure Faire from 1963 onwards, The Good Book Press.
  9. ^ Anania, Billy. "The Los Angeles Paper That Documented Police Brutality in the 1960s and '70s: For years, only the Los Angeles Free Press chronicled the many incidents of police violence in Los Angeles, making crucial connections between racial disenfranchisement and mass unrest," Hyperallergic (June 11, 2020).
  10. ^ Plotz, John. "Zounds, Milady! At the Renaissance Faire, all the world’s a stage," Slate (Feb. 1, 2013).
  11. ^ Ulin, David L. "Netizens of the World, Unite," Los Angeles Free Press (March 14, 1996).
  12. ^ "Legendary Comedy Group Firesign Theatre Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary November 17, 2006; Invite Fans to Cough Up the Goods" (Press release). November 13, 2006. Archived from the original on October 28, 2017. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  13. ^ "The Press: Pushing Privilege Too Far?". Time. 15 July 1974.
  14. ^ "Lewis Jailed for Contempt". The Desert Sun. California Digital Newspaper Collection. 20 June 1974. Retrieved January 9, 2023.
  15. ^ "Radio Station Manager May Drop Tape Battle". The New York Times. 25 July 1974.
  16. ^ "Conflict over Protection of News Sources Enters New Phase Tomorrow in Farr Case in California". The New York Times. July 1974.
  17. ^ Frank, Sam. "Pacifica Tunes Out KPFK," LA Weekly (March 1995), paragraph 5.
  18. ^ "IMRU History". IMRU Radio. Retrieved January 9, 2023.
  19. ^ Hodel, Steve (13 July 2017). "Remembering KPFK's Mike Hodel - Gone but Not Forgotten".
  20. ^ Wolf, Michelle Andrea and Alfred P. Kielwasser (1991). Gay People, Sex, and the Media Haworth Press, p. 7. ISBN 0-86656-936-7.
  21. ^ Breslauer, Jan (August 6, 2006). "Drawing more out of 'Jerker'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 12, 2009.

External links[edit]