Community Radio

Jessica Wolfson and Paul Lovelace, NYC, 6/14/12

Beginning in 1963, five nights a week, from midnight to 5:00 am, Bob Fass, free-form radio pioneer on WBAI, spoke (that inimitable voice), took calls, played music, invited musicians into his studio to perform live: bringing “that scene,” the counterculture, “to a radio audience.”  And he developed a personal and political relationship with his listeners, whom he greeted, “Good morning, cabal.”

And the show expanded into the world: a human fly-in, thousands mobbing the beautiful Saarinen building at JFK; a sweep-in as New Yorkers pitched in to clear their strrets during a garbage strike; a Yip-In at Grand Central; an exorcism at the Pentagon in 1967; and to the madness of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

In their fascinating new documentary, “Radio Unnameable,” filmmakers Paul Lovelace and Jessica Wolfson, tell Fass’ (and the era’s story) with recordings of his broadacasts, interviews, riveting archival material of New York and elsewhere, and some well-shot new views of New York.

Fass was fired from WBAI in 1977, returned in 1983 and now broadcasts Thursdays, from midnight to 3:00 am, remaining a vital voice, concerned with issues such as fracking.

“Radio Unnameable” opens tomorrow at Film Forum for a two-week run.  There will be four Q&As with Lovelace, Wolfson and Fass.

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