This month, at the age of 86, radio activist Lorenzo Milam passed away in Oaxaca, Mexico.
He was known as “The Johnny Appleseed of Community Radio” because he founded so many radio stations. The official number is around 12 or 13, but unofficially the count goes up to 300.
Milam grew up listening to radio in Florida. He preferred black stations that featured characters like Daddy Rabbit with the ‘do right habit’, and Hank the night watchman. Later, while studying at Berkeley, Milam discovered KPFA. The intellectual content reminded him of the BBC. He quickly got involved with the station. On this time period, Jesse Walker from reason.com wrote, “One way to think of the stations that Milam went on to found is to imagine the highbrow radicalism of early Pacifica crossed with the lowbrow creativity of Hank and Daddy Rabbit.”
While in his 20’s, Milam pioneered his first radio station: KRAB. It was founded in Seattle, Washington in 1961. From WORT: “His goal was lofty: All programming would be provided by community volunteers, with no restrictions on how esoteric the content.”