Post Ike Post

As the city struggles to recover from Hurricane Ike, more and most people are hitting the roads. Driving to work, running errands, etc. Of course with a lot of the city without power there’s a lot of traffic lights that are just dark. Traffic during peak hours, while not all that great on a normal day, is extremely bad as those who barely (if at all) qualify for a drivers license vainly struggle to sort out the de facto 4-way stops that plague even the shortest trip on any given surface street.

Today was the first day I’ve seen the local police out directing traffic. It helps, but there’s still a lot of congestion. As I was driving into town this evening the traffic on 59 headed out of the city was the thickest I’ve ever seen it. And that was at 8:00 pm.

I swung by KPFT to see how things were going. I’d heard that the station had gotten back on the air on Friday and actually played “Here Comes The Sun” by The Beatles repeatedly for an hour. For those not in the know, this was the first song played on KPFT when it went on the air on March 1, 1970.

As of now the station is on the air and returns to the normal schedule first thing on Tuesday morning. We’re actually hijacking our own Internet connection to send the signal to the transmitter over IP until we get things sorted out with the microwave.

Of course this means Technology Bytes will be back on Wednesday which gives me the happy. Anything to return my own sense of routine and normalcy goes a long, long way.

KPFT Remembers

[tags]kpft, pacifica[/tags]

The remains of the KPFT transmitter from when we were literally blown off the air on May 12, 1970.

The History

KPFT’s transmitter was dynamited two months after signing on to the airwaves. KPFT was down for three weeks until repairs could be made.

Five months later, on October 6, 1970, while the station was broadcasting Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant,” the transmitter was bombed yet again and the damage was significantly more extensive. The second bombing took KPFT off the air for three months.

Here is the 10/6/70 press release from KPFT concerning the second bombing attack:

October 6, 1970
2:30 P.M.

Some time before sunrise this morning someone dynamited the transmitter of KPFT, Pacifica Radio in Houston. This is the second time in less than six months that criminals have tried to silence the station by bombing our transmitter, a transmitter which can be built and operated only with the permission of the Federal Government. The act itself is criminal. It is a modern method of cutting out a man’s tongue.

KPFT is a grass roots enterprise, community supported and paid for by its listeners. It is educational non-commercial and its microphones are open to all points of view.

People in Houston should know of the 20 year history of the Pacifica foundation, whose successful stations in New York, California – and affiliates on college campuses – have won plaudits from professional journalists, its listeners, and such national organizations as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Pacifica Foundation is a nonprofit corporation chartered in 1946. It is a fully tax-exempt public charity. As a noncommercial broadcaster, it limits its work to the ownership and operation of radio stations and to related projects. Pacifica is non-political and has no social program or goals. It never editorializes about political questions or other matters. The Foundation’s four stations exchange programs, but are independently programmed. Like all stations, they are prohibited from programming anything that could be characterized as obscene, libelous, or seditious.

KPFT will be back on the air broadcasting with your help – broadcasting complete wire copy, broadcasting music and voices which are so hard to hear in Houston. All of us who are working to put the station back on the air – the Advisory Board of Directors, the paid staff and, most of all, the unpaid volunteers, listeners, and supporters of the station – are more determined than ever that Houston have an open microphone. It looks like it needs it.

We feel our loss is Houston’s loss and solicit the aid of all concerned citizens. We will be back on the air, but only with your help. This bombing can be fatal to Pacifica in Houston. We earnestly appeal for your financial contributions.


Also in the picture above is the recently added window pane that features the bullet hole from the recent drive by shooting.

Here’s a rather rare video about the bombing in 1970

Volunteers Are Standing By

phliKtid, co-host and engineer for Technology Bytes, takes a turn manning the phones to take listener pledges during the 2007 fall fundraiser for KPFT on Halloween night…

Remembering his volunteer training phliKtid is calm, courteous and professional

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After taking the pledge he thanks the listener for their generous support

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Break time!

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Don’t Shoot!

If you’ve been paying attention to the news at all this week then I am sure
you have heard about the recent shooting at KPFT, the station I broadcast Technology Bytes from each Wednesday from 8-10 pm.

To recap (from the KPFT site):

At about 1 AM Monday, August 13 a gunshot was fired
from a passing car into the KPFT control room. It penetrated thru both
panes of the outer window, entered the room and smashed into the control
room door on the far side of the room. Police were summoned and have begun an investigation.
Fortunately, Mary Thomas and John Orr of “Zydeco Pas Salé” were not hurt.

I have sat in that control room many times in the last 20 years of programming at KPFT. Only in the last few years have I had an engineer working the board (thanks phliKtid!) which allows me to sit in the windowless on-air studio.

I’m truly grateful that no one was hurt during the incident

This is not the first violent episode at KPFT.

The station’s transmitter was bombed and destroyed on May 12, 1970,
two months after going on the air. The new station was off the air for
three weeks until repairs could be made.

Five months later, on October 6, 1970, while the station was broadcasting Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant,” the transmitter was bombed yet again and
the damage was significantly more extensive. The second bombing took
KPFT off the air for three months.

Check out this rare video:

The bombing was at the transmitter and the actual station was unharmed, as were the programmers and staff of KPFT.

There’s a piece of the destroyed transmitter on display at the radio station.
It’s upstairs so you have to know about it or ask to see it if you are just
a casual visitor.

Then there was the time not too long ago that the guy who has been ranting and raving all over the Internet about Technology Bytes and KPFT conspiring with Microsoft to exploit the American public showed up at the station brandishing a shotgun.

As to the recent shooting, I have no idea what the motivation might be.
It could have been someone upset with our left leaning programming, it could
have been random, it could have been a disgruntled volunteer…heck,
it could have been someone upset with Rick Heysquierdo for playing one
too many Billy Joe Shaver songs on Lone Star Jukebox for all I know…

The Freepers are going back and forth from accusing us of shooting ourselves as a publicity stunt or a
conspiracy to suggesting that we were “asking for it” …

One thing’s for sure, this event has the opportunity to galvanize
support for KPFT in this community.

No matter your political leanings, no matter your spiritual beliefs
or taste in music, everyone (sane) can agree that shooting a
radio station is just crazy and, quite possibly, a REAL symbol
of the threat to freedom of speech and expression faces each
and every day in this country.

If anything, the recent shooting might bring some much needed
attention to the plight of our little public radio station. Maybe more
people will be motivated to get involved. It’s times of crisis that seem
to bring out the best in people.

I don’t see my show as a lightning rod for controversy, but I sometimes
lose site of the fact that KPFT can be.

I’ll be doing my show tonight. Business as usual. But you can bet I will be a little more on the wary side than before.

Links of interest:

Rolas de Aztlan (
Notes from KPFT Program Director Ernesto Aguilar

The Texas Observer (
KPFT’s Close Call

Charles Kuffner (
KPFT targeted for “alternative” programming?

Technology makes for strange bedfellows

Exciting day yesterday!

Dwight Silverman arrived at the station with a copy of his new book, Microsoft Windows Vista: Peachpit Learning Series

There are several things that make this VERY cool to me, so forgive me being a bit of a techno-spazz.

1. Our friend Dwight published a book!
2. Technology Bytes now features an author who has published a book!
3. Technology Bytes is mentioned on the back cover of a nationally published book!

In other cool geek news, we had a special guest on the show last night. None other than James Kendrick of JK On The Run fame.

James is an expert on mobile computing and his blog is probably the single best source for anything related to that particular aspect of technology.

Thanks James! We appreciate you taking the time!

Fair and Balanced

Got an e-mail last night from Ned Hibbard over at the local Fox affiliate. They were doing a piece on the discovery of the Quicktime vulnerability that’s getting a little “buzz” as we kick of the Month of Apple Bugs.

He wanted to know if he could send a camera guy over to the radio station during my show. The idea was to record us on air in hopes of getting a sound bite to use in a story they were putting together for the evening news about the vulnerability.

Not being one who turns down a chance for free publicity, I agreed.

They did end up using several seconds of video they shot. It wasn’t an Emmy award winning performance by any means. Still, it’s good promo for the show. Especially since they got the name of the show right, unlike the previous story I did for the NBC affiliate last August.