Lorenzo Milam

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Lorenzo Wilson Milam, born on August 2, 1933, in Jacksonville, Florida; died on July 19, 2020 in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico, was an American writer and activist who was instrumental in starting many of the first listener-supported community radio stations in the United States, beginning with KRAB in Seattle in 1962.[1]

Early life[edit]

In 1952, at age 19, he was diagnosed with polio. His sister died of the disease on December 29, 1952, but Milam's case was milder and he was able to walk with crutches after one year. This and the aftermath are described in his autobiographical book "The Cripple Liberation Front Marching Band Blues."[2]

Community radio[edit]

Milam is credited with helping start 14 stations from the early 1960s through late 1970s.[3] He got his start in radio volunteering in 1958–1959 at Lew Hill's KPFA in Berkeley, California. He used a $15,000 inheritance to buy a small FM transmitter in 1959 and spent the next 3 years seeking a broadcasting license "anywhere in the US" from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which assigned him a frequency in Seattle, 107.7FM.[4] With the help of volunteer engineer Jeremy Lansman he was able to get his antique Collins Radio transmitter on the air in 1962, creating the station KRAB.[5][6]

Milam and Lansman later assisted in the creation of community radio stations around the country, starting in 1968 with KBOO (1968-1971) in Portland;[7] KTAO (1968-1974); KDNA (St. Louis) 1969-72; KPOO (1972-) San Francisco;, KCHU, 1975-77; KFAT (1975-1983) Gilroy, California; WORT; WRFG 89.3 FM (Atlanta, Georgia); KOPN 89.5 FM (Columbia, Missouri); KZUM 89.3 FM (Lincoln, Nebraska).[8]

The KRAB Nebula, was a tape exchange, using quarter-inch audio tape sent to stations, sharing programs.[9]

According to David Armstrong in A Trumpet to Arms: Alternative Media in America, "Milam's passion for community radio--and 1.1 million from the sale of a second station, KDNA-St.Louis, to commercial broadcasters in 1973--led him to become a veritable Johnny Appleseed of community radio."[10]

Sex and Broadcasting[edit]

Milam authored the 1971 book Sex and Broadcasting, A Handbook on Starting a Radio Station for the Community.[11][12][13][14]

The "godless" petition[edit]

In December 1974, Milam and Jeremy Lansman, both radio broadcast consultants in California, sent a petition, RM-2493 to the Federal Communications Commission asking for a freeze on new licenses for educational television and radio channels, and an investigation into religious broadcasters. Although the agency did not consider the petition (on First Amendment grounds), the FCC received over a million letters, about 3,000 per day for many months, protesting the petition, the largest number of letters that the FCC has ever received on an issue.[15]

The Fessenden Review[edit]

Milam published 13 issues of the print publication The Fessenden Review between 1985 and 1989.[11] Content was eclectic to an extreme degree, and as likely to confound readers as to amuse them. Issues were released at successively longer intervals as finances dwindled, and later issues were irregularly numbered. Milam hoped that anyone chancing upon a copy at a newsstand would assume it was the current issue and buy it, and that confused dealers would be less likely to identify culls.

Ralph (journal)[edit]

Milam, as Publisher/Editor, produced 294 online issues, 1994-2019, of the online publication RALPH: The Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy and the Humanities.[11][16][17][18]

Books and publications[edit]

(this list is incomplete)[11]

  • Milam, Lorenzo W. The Myrkin Papers. Bellevue, Wash: Duck Press, 1969. OCLC 3189090
  • Milam, Lorenzo W. Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Radio and Television (Which Your Friendly Local Broadcaster Would NEVER Tell You...), The Realist. 1971.Paul Krassner, Editor
  • Milam, Lorenzo W. Sex and Broadcasting[19][20][11][12][13]
  • Milam, Lorenzo W. The Cripple Liberation Front Marching Band Blues. San Diego, CA: Mho & Mho Works, 1984. ISBN 9780917320095[2][25]
  • The Fessenden Review (as Publisher/Editor: 13 issues) Circa 1988-1994[11]
  • Lorenzo, Milam (1986). The Radio Papers, from KRAB to KCHU: Essays on the Art and Practice of Radio Transmission (PDF). San Diego, CA: MHO & MHO Works. ISBN 9780917320187.[26] ISBN 9780917320194
  • The Lourdes of Arizona (as Carlos A. Amantea), 1989[11]
    • The Lourdes of Psychotherapy : The 1985 Evolution of Pscyhotherapy Conference Revealed, 2005 Limited Edition[11]
  • The Blob That Ate Oaxaca and Other Travel Tales (as Carlos Amantea) 1992[27][11]
  • Milam, Lorenzo W. Cripzen: A Manual for Survival. San Diego, CA: Mho & Mho Works, 1993. ISBN 9780917320026[28]
  • RALPH: The Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy and the Humanities (as Publisher/Editor; 294 online issues), 1994-2019[11][16]
  • Gallant, Jonathan A, and Lorenzo W. Milam. Gringolándia: A Guide for Puzzled Mexicans. San Diego, CA: Mho & Mho Works, 1997. ISBN 9780917320064[29][11]
  • A Cricket in the Telephone (At Sunset): Poems from the Fessenden Review (as Lolita Lark, editor), 1998[11][30]
  • Lorenzo Wilson Milam: Life Among The Walkies. San Diego, CA: Mho & Mho Works, 2018. OCLC 993752226[31][32]


  1. ^ Walker, Jesse (July 23, 2020). "The Death of a Radio Pioneer". Reason.com. Retrieved February 14, 2023.
  2. ^ a b Kendrick, Walter (May 6, 1984). "CUTTING THROUGH MY SOUL". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  3. ^ Huntsberger, Michael William (Spring 2007). The Emergence of Community Radio in the United States: A Historical Examination of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, 1970 to 1990. Retrieved February 8, 2021. Presented to the School of Journalism and Communication and the Graduate School of the University of Oregon in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Spring 2007
  4. ^ Crowley, Walt. Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995)
  5. ^ Lili Levi, The Hard Case of Broadcast Indecency, 20 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 49 (1993).
  6. ^ "KRAB-FM 107.7 Seattle, Washington 1962-1984". krabarchive.com. KRAB Archive. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  7. ^ Sussman, Gerald; Estes, J. R. (November 2005). "KBOO Community Radio: Organizing Portland's Disorderly Possibilities". Journal of Radio Studies. 12 (2): 223–239. doi:10.1207/s15506843jrs1202_4. S2CID 145732703. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  8. ^ Robb, Margo L., "Community Radio, Public Interest: The Low Power FM Service and 21st Century Media Policy" (2009). Masters Theses 1911 - February 2014. 315.
  9. ^ Rubin, Nan (August 14, 2020). "Lorenzo Milam, legendary pioneer of community radio, dies at 86". Current. I was a student at Antioch College, and my personal interest in sociology and mass communications brought me to WYSO, the campus station. Though not a community licensee, much of the programming was produced by local volunteers, and the college itself was becoming a hub for alternative media — not only radio, but also film, video, photography and journalism. It was here that I first heard of The KRAB Nebula tape exchange, ¼-inch audio tapes that were being sent between stations to share programs, which we aired on WYSO. It was also where I met Jeremy Lansman, who put a copy of the Sex and Broadcasting booklet in my hands.
  10. ^ Armstrong, David. A Trumpet to Arms: Alternative Media in America, p. 77
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Lorenzo Milam Books". Academic Film Archive of North America. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  12. ^ a b "The Bader Award". San Francisco, California: National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Archived from the original on September 6, 2016. Retrieved October 27, 2016.
  13. ^ a b Armstrong, David (1981). A Trumpet to Arms: Alternative Media in America. South End Press. pp. 77–78. ISBN 0-89608-193-1. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
  14. ^ Milam, Lorenzo W. (January 1984). "Sex And Broadcasting". The Sun Magazine (98).
  15. ^ "Mail Fearing Religious-Shows Ban Deluges FCC". New York Times. February 18, 1976.
  16. ^ a b "The Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy and the Humanities". Archives: KRAB-FM 107.7 Seattle, Washington 1962-1984. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  17. ^ The Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy and the Humanities
  18. ^ Corbett, Larry (September 2000), "Lorenzo Milam: Surviving Geezerhood", New Mobility, retrieved March 9, 2019
  19. ^ Sakolsky, Ron; Dunifer, Stephen (1998). Seizing the airwaves : a free radio handbook (PDF). Edinburgh, Scotland: AK Press. ISBN 1-873176-99-6. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  20. ^ Rubin, Nan (August 14, 2020). "Lorenzo Milam, legendary pioneer of community radio, dies at 86". Current. Retrieved February 8, 2021. The pamphlet was an underground smash, and Lorenzo produced a second edition of Sex and Broadcasting in 1974 as an actual book (Dildo Press; with 20 pages on How to Start a Station and 300 pages of his musings and essays from the KRAB Program Guide).
  21. ^ https://worldradiohistory.com/BOOKSHELF-ARH/Business/Sex-and-Broadcasting.o.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  22. ^ Milam, Lorenzo W. (1975). Sex and Broadcasting: A Handbook on Starting a Radio Station for the Community (PDF) (3 ed.). Los Gatos, CA: Dildo Press. ISBN 978-0-917320-00-2. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  23. ^ "Community Radio: Sex and Broadcasting A Handbook". ephemerascenti. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  24. ^ "Sex & Broadcasting".
  25. ^ "The Cripple Liberation Front".
  26. ^ "Lorenzo W. Milam". Salon.com. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  27. ^ "The Blob That Ate Oaxaca".
  28. ^ "CripZen: A Manual for Survival".
  29. ^ "GRINGOLANDIA: A Guide for Puzzled Mexicans".
  30. ^ "Book Catalogue". MHO & MHO WORKS. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  31. ^ "Mho & Mho: Works". Archives: KRAB-FM 107.7 Seattle, Washington 1962-1984. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  32. ^ "Life Among the Walkies | Lorenzo W. Milam | Book Information". Archives: KRAB-FM 107.7 Seattle, Washington 1962-1984. Retrieved February 8, 2021.