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.

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."[1]

Community radio[edit]

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."[2] He is credited with helping start 14 stations from the early 1960s through late 1970s. 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.[3] 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.[4] Lansman later assisted him in launching other stations around the country, starting in 1968 with KBOO in Portland, in a mini-network that was sometimes referred to as the "KRAB nebula". Mr. Milam authored the book Sex and Broadcasting, A Handbook on Starting a Radio Station for the Community[5][6]

The "godless" petition[edit]

In December 1974, Milam and Jeremy Lansman, both radio broadcast consultants in California, sent a petition 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.[7]

The Fessenden Review[edit]

Milam published 13 issues of the print publication The Fessenden Review between 1985 and 1989. 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 produced the online publication Ralph (The Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy and the Humanities).[8]

Books and publications[edit]

  • Milam, Lorenzo W. The Myrkin Papers. Bellevue, Wash: Duck Press, 1969. WorldCat Link
  • Milam, Lorenzo W. The Original Sex and Broadcasting: A Handbook on Starting a Radio Station for the Community. San Diego, Calif: Mho & Mho Works, 1988. ISBN 9780917320019
  • Milam, Lorenzo W. The Cripple Liberation Front Marching Band Blues. San Diego, Calif: Mho & Mho Works, 1984. ISBN 9780917320095 [1]
  • Lourdes of Arizona
  • Milam, Lorenzo W. The Radio Papers, from Krab to Kchu: Essays on the Art and Practice of Radio Transmission. San Diego, Calif: MHO & MHO Works, 1986. ISBN 9780917320194
  • Milam, Lorenzo W. Cripzen: A Manual for Survival. San Diego, Calif: MHO & MHO Works, 1993. ISBN 9780917320026
  • Milam, Lorenzo W. Sex and Broadcasting: A Handbook on Starting a Radio Station for the Community. Los Gatos, Calif.: Dildo Press, 1975. WorldCat Link
  • A Cricket in the Telephone at Sunset
  • The Blob That Ate Oaxaca (as Carlos Amantea)
  • Gallant, Jonathan A, and Lorenzo W. Milam. Gringolándia: A Guide for Puzzled Mexicans. San Diego, CA: MHO & MHO Works, 1997. ISBN 9780917320064
  • The Fessenden Review (Editor: 13 issues)


  1. ^ a b Kendrick, Walter (May 6, 1984). "CUTTING THROUGH MY SOUL". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  2. ^ Armstrong, David. A Trumpet to Arms: Alternative Media in America, p. 77
  3. ^ Crowley, Walt. Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995)
  4. ^ "KRAB-FM 107.7 Seattle, Washington 1962-1984". krabarchive.com. KRAB Archive. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  5. ^ "The Bader Award". San Francisco, California: National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Archived from the original on September 6, 2016. Retrieved October 27, 2016.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "Mail Fearing Religious-Shows Ban Deluges FCC". New York Times. February 18, 1976.
  8. ^ Corbett, Larry (September 2000), "Lorenzo Milam:Surviving Geezerhood", New Mobility, retrieved March 9, 2019