This is true. One of the many things I learned in the Gulf Coast Reads book The Fishermen and the Dragon by Kirk Wallace Johnson was that the Houston radio station KPFT (90.1) was bombed not once, but twice in 1970 shortly after they began broadcasting.
KPFT is part of Pacifica Foundation's network of listener-supported, non-commercial radio stations, and had a reputation for its commitment to free speech, and progressive politics. At the same time in the late sixties and early seventies, the KKK was experiencing a resurgence in America and particularly in Southern states like Texas. This resurgence was fueled by the KKK’s opposition to the Civil Rights Movement, and how they perceived the influx of Vietnamese fishermen along the Texas coast and especially in Harris County’s own city, Seabrook as a threat to white supremacy.
The KKK has a long history of violence and on May 12, 1970, just two months after going on the air, KPFT was bombed. This forced the new station off the air for three weeks. Donations and support to rebuild came in quickly, but five months later on October 6, 1970, while the station was broadcasting Arlo Guthrie's, "Alices's Restaurant" the transmitter was bombed yet again. This time the damage was significantly worse and took KPFT off the air for three months. But yet again, support from the community and all over the world flowed in to rebuild the station.
Ultimately, KKK Grand Dragon Jimmy Dale Hutto was arrested and convicted in the bombings, as well as for plotting to blow up the radio stations KPFA in Berkeley and KPFK in Los Angeles.
KPFT is still on the air today at 90.1 in Houston. It is a listener-supported, commercial-free radio station that also broadcasts an HD station. Both stations air a variety of music, news, talk, and call-in programs.
The book, The Fishermen and the Dragon by Kirk Wallace Johnson goes into more detail on this story and many others. Do yourself a favor and join in the conversation with the rest of the Gulf Coast, (and give KPFT a listen if you haven’t in a while) you won’t be disappointed.
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