Lew Hill

b. 1 May 1919, Kansas City, KA .… d. 1 Aug 1957, Duncans Mills, CA

Pacifist; community radio pioneer; founder of Pacifica Radio

During World War II, pacifist Lew Hill hatched a radical idea with a number of fellow conscientious objectors. Frustrated by the marginalization of critical voices in broadcast media, they resolved to launch their own radio station—a station which could increase peace and justice by creating opportunities for thoughtful public discussion of diverse ideas. After the war, Hill and his friends formed the Pacifica Foundation, and in 1949 launched KPFA as the country's first listener-supported radio station. The eclectic programming mix included children’s and educational programs, political debates, literary reviews, and music. Hill's vision of creating conversation guided KPFA through much of its first decade, though the station also experienced growing pains, as the founder's strong ideas clashed with pressures to democratize station management. Hill committed suicide in 1957. Pacifica expanded to become the first public radio network in the US, now encompassing five principal sister stations and over 130 affiliates.


The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey