By 1960 Pacifica radio station KPFA, in Berkeley, California, had become a unique visionary model and promise for cultural radio in America. It offered a wide range of programming in the arts, music, sciences, public affairs, and the humanities. The Drama and Literature Department was given generous broadcast time for world literature, current art movements and most important, the art of radio drama in all its variety. Programs drawn from BBC, Canada, Australia, were broadcast regularly, but in addition KPFA produced original drama and literature programming with talents drawn from it's own community, or from, as they grew, other Pacifica network stations in Los Angeles and New York. It was an inspiring opportunity for those of us who had given up hope for such a rebirth of radio broadcasting in this country.
Drawn to the station in 1961, I proposed to do some readings for the Department, which at that time was directed by John Leonard. He put me in a studio with microphone and engineer and said "Go ahead" and I did a thirty minute segment from Sartre's novel, Nausea! Months later with no forewarning, I found it listed in the KPFA Folio for an evening broadcast. Another reading, Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground followed, but these tapes remained unedited for several months. No one to edit them. I offered to learn how and John set me up. Everything later began in that tiny, airless, cluttered, but embryonic editing room.
Thus it was a privileged and rewarding opportunity. In 1963, in association with my colleague Kenneth Lash at the San Francisco Art Institute, I took over the Department. and we were able to extend the programming of the former directors first by moving from an alcove to a full-sized production office, with its own editing equipment and space for volunteers and things to happen.
Lash received a university post teaching English in the mid-west and I remained at KPFA looking forward to a career in radio. Most important to me was the production of new and original drama and other acoustical work by writers, performers and sound designers from wherever they could be found. There was an abundance of such volunteers and media artists in the community. In particular Randy Thom and Jim McKee came from the nearby outer world and have remained production colleagues throughout their years of ascending accomplishments and fame. Special projects were eventually funded from various sources outside of Pacifica. In particular we received the first funding award, for radio drama production from the National Endowment for the Arts. Thereafter, all funded projects brought payment to artists and participants. In 1987, Bay Area Radio Drama (BARD) my independent non-profit corporation, was formed. Its funding, from NEA, NEH and other sources, allowed some independence from KPFA during their years of political and programming turmoil that followed.
All BARD productions were first broadcast on KPFA, but those with outside funding were the property of BARD, and remain so. They went, as well, to other stations via National Public Radio and overseas to BBC, Australian Radio and Germany's WDR Köln, with more recent distribution by Public Radio International. Through my elected presence at EBU (European Broadcasting Union) conferences, a way was set for many of the projects that followed, notably the Hörspiel/USA project with WDR Köln. as described in this Web site. Note that each of the various projects include many separate works, the projects themselves often overlapping other concurrent projects. The listings that follow, with their approximate dates of productions and distribution, tell the rest of the story.
We look forward to making the programs listed here and others to come, available for listening and further broadcast.