Ken Freedman

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Ken Freedman
WFMU General Manager Ken Freedman in 2008.jpg
In 2008
Born (1959-02-18) February 18, 1959 (age 59)
OccupationGeneral manager of WFMU
Years active1976—present
Known forSeven Second Delay

Ken Freedman (born February 18, 1959) is general manager of WFMU, a freeform radio station. He also co-hosts the conceptual comedy program Seven Second Delay with Andy Breckman, as well as hosting his own freeform radio program on Wednesday mornings (9:00–noon Eastern Time). He is the co-founder of Congera, a public benefit corporation.

Freedman hosted his first radio program in 1976 as a DJ at Highland Park High School station WVHP. He served as station manager of WCBN-FM, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor's freeform outlet, where he marked the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan by playing Lesley Gore's "It's My Party (And I'll Cry If I Want To)" for eighteen consecutive hours.[1]

Freedman joined WFMU as a DJ in December 1983, and succeeded Bruce Longstreet as general manager in August 1985. At the time, WFMU was licensed to and owned by Upsala College, and based in East Orange, New Jersey.

In February 1986, Freedman launched a program guide/zine called LCD (Lowest Common Denominator), featuring work by many internationally known writers and artists, including Nick Tosches, Jim Woodring, Drew Friedman, Gary Panter, Harvey Pekar, Dan Clowes, Tony Millionaire, and Chris Ware. In November 2007, The Best of LCD: The Art and Writing of WFMU, was published by Princeton Architectural Press. It was compiled and edited by longtime WFMU radio host Dave "The Spazz" Abramson.

In 1989, Freedman successfully fended off a challenge to the station's license from four rival broadcasters, who claimed that WFMU was broadcasting above its legal power limit.

In 1992, he founded the non-profit organization Auricle Communications, which purchased WFMU's license from Upsala in 1994. These actions allowed WFMU to survive when the college went bankrupt in 1995.[2]

A core strategy for the station was to embrace the World Wide Web, launching its website in 1993, streaming its broadcasts full-time in 1997, and archiving most broadcasts from 2000.[3] Under Freedman's management, annual donations to the station (which is funded exclusively by listener support) grew from $50,000 in 1983, to $750,000 in 1999, to over $1,800,000 in 2012.[2] Freedman has made it his mission to keep up with digital technological developments and how they impact radio. "I keep abreast of new technology mainly from my children and their friends, as well as the youngest generation of programmers and superfans at WFMU," he explained in a 2018 Radio World interview. [4]

Freedman pioneered the use of direct licensing for broadcasters, obtaining alternative copyrights and waivers to address restrictions placed on broadcasters by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In 2007, Freedman built on these direct licensing activities and founded WFMU's Free Music Archive, an open source library of copyright-cleared music and audio which launched in April 2009.[5]

Freedman has served on the board of public science and technology company New Brunswick Scientific Company (purchased in 2004 by Eppendorf) and was a board member (for four years) and technology advisor to National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB). He has spoken and presented at conferences sponsored by The Future of Music Coalition, National Public Radio, the Integrated Media Association, the Audio Engineering Society (AES), O'Reilly Media's Newsfoo Conference, The Awesome Foundation Summit, the University of British Columbia and the National Federation of Community Broadcasters.

In 2013, Freedman initiated the creation of a suite of software for broadcasters, journalists and online publishers known as the Audience Engine.[6]

In 2013, he began performing stand-up comedy and has performed acts at the New York Comedy Club, the Broadway Comedy Club, the Greenwich Village Comedy Club and other venues in New York, New Jersey and San Francisco.


Freedman is a resident of Hoboken, New Jersey.[7] He has been married to Harriett ("Hank") Lewis since 1987. They have two children, Harry and Daisy. Ken's brother, Samuel G. Freedman, is an author of several books, as well as a religion columnist for The New York Times, and a Professor at the Columbia School of Journalism. Their sister Carol is the founder of Carol's Creative Chocolatez.


  1. ^ "CBN History: Radio/Broadcasting Timeline". WCBN Online. May 10, 2005. Retrieved June 10, 2008.
  2. ^ a b Wolf, Jaime (April 11, 1999). "No Hits All the Time". The New York Times. Retrieved June 10, 2008.
  3. ^ Applebome, Peter (February 24, 2008). "Looking for Music, but Not 'Celebration,' to Remember Castro? Put the Radio On". The New York Times. Retrieved June 10, 2008.
  4. ^ Vernon, Tom, "Keeping Up With Digital Technology a Challenge for Small Broadcasters," Radio World, January 3, 2018
  5. ^ Freedman, Ken (2007-05-09). "Ken Freedman's Open Source Marriage of Audio, Music & Radio". Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Retrieved June 10, 2008.
  6. ^ Flanagan, Andrew, "WFMU Wants to Change How Media Talks to Its Audiences and Raises Money — For Free," Billboard, July 29, 2015
  7. ^ Gialanella, Donna. "Ken Freedman", The Star-Ledger, October 14, 2007, last updated November 9, 2007. Accessed February 6, 2013. "He brings the garbage cans in from the curb of the station's Jersey City brownstone. He carts the mail from the post office box near his home in neighboring Hoboken."

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