It was a most fulfilling moment for me as a member of BREDAA to revisit the globally progressive media institution, KPFK 90.7 FM, Los Angeles, California, which is a sister station of the internationally recognized grassroots and revolutionary Pacifica Radio Network which was formed in the United States in 1947, some 69 years ago.
Accompanied by the Belize Progressive Party’s political leader, Patrick Rogers, and his brother Gerald, the tour of the KPFK studios in North Hollywood, California last week was an impressive event for me as the producer of the legendary Belizean radio issues magazine, Belize-Caribbean Pulse, that was broadcast to the Los Angeles Belizean community from 1986 to 1996. Not only were we so much welcomed by the always warm and friendly staff that has been the trademark of hospitality at KPFK, but for the first time we were being invited to view the world renowned Pacifica Radio Archives that began some three decades ago when radio broadcasting was almost antiquated and analog driven.
Most moving for me was to see my dear friend, Mark Torres, the brilliant Chicano activist, broadcaster, and the brainchild behind the compilation of such huge archives of radio broadcasts that go all the way back to 1947. From the last time BREDAA broadcast Belize-Caribbean Pulse in 1996, Torres has improved the capacity of the contents of the revolutionary radio library tremendously and has converted every piece of broadcast material from analog to digital. It’s been some twenty years since the last time that Mark gave a tour of the library, when the room space was almost half of what it has grown to be now. His partner, Edgar Sanchez, almost eluded me since he once had long hair like a hippie from the 1960’s. Amazingly, Edgar was still there doing this most impressive labor of love work for the popular education of the masses of the dispossessed and disenfranchised masses of the American people.
We at BREDAA honor the work of these two Latino brothers who were so very kind and hospitable to their guests, Belize’s Patrick Rogers, yours truly of BREDAA, and Gerald Rogers. That day we learned about the passion and vision that go into the collection and documenting of history.
What stood out so very astonishing at one of the largest radio archives in the world, was the collection of the black revolutionary leader, Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik Shabazz), recordings of his speeches that were captured by Pacifica from the first one he uttered in eloquence in 1963. Torres mentioned that not even Malcolm X’s family, the Shabazz family, had a copy of the Muslim Minister’s, turned black nationalist freedom fighter, collection of speeches until Pacifica donated one to the legacy of his great Pan-Africanist work.
Patrick Rogers was very moved by the collection of Brother Malcolm’s speeches, that KPFK and the Pacifica Radio Archives had documented what he had never seen anywhere else before. Building such an alliance with such a powerful media institution, for Rogers was the place where many of the world’s greatest leaders both past and present had passed through before their great ascent to leadership. Certainly, Belize’s own past and present leaders: George Cadle Price, Manuel Esquivel, Said Musa, and Dean Oliver Barrow, had sat in the studios at KPFK in the 1980’s and 1990’s to present their message of leadership for the Belizean people. It was a mind-blowing thought for Rogers to see the very studio that these Belizean leaders had sat in and discussed Belizean politics with the American people.