When Hippies Went On Strike at KMPX-FM

on the made by history blog at the washington post: the sixties counterculture & labor organizing in white-collar workplaces.

KMPX strike demands, printed in San Francisco Express Times, 1968.

At Washington Post‘s Made By History blog, I wrote about the KMPX-FM radio strike of 1968 and the lost labor history of hippies : When Hippies Went on Strike, Made By History Blog, Washington Post, 7 May 2018.

Here is supplementary multimedia (images, sound, video) related to the strike, which took place 50 years ago this spring. For the full story of the strike, see my book, The Republic of Rock: Music and Citizenship in the Sixties Counterculture as well as sociologist Susan Krieger’s excellent Hip Capitalism.

KMPX-FM staff, 1967. Photo: Baron Wolman.

KMPX-FM strike documentary, aired on KSAN-FM in the mid-1970s and includes recording of last minutes on the air before walkout.

Sue Henderson (now Kagan)’s KMPX-FM union card, 1968. Signed by fellow DJ/engineer Dusty Street.
Sue Henderson (now Kagan) at the KMPX-FM control board, 1967. Photo: Jerry Burchard.
KMPX strike demands, printed in San Francisco Express Times, 1968.
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Newsreel footage of the KMPX-FM picket line outside Green Street studios in downtown San Francisco, 1968.

Flier for Larry Miller’s pioneering freeform radio show on KMPX-FM, 1967. Courtesy: Larry Miller.
Tom Donahue, DJ and KMPX-FM station manager, at a strike meeting, 1968.
KMPX strike benefit concert poster, 1968.
KMPX strike benefit concert poster, 1968.
KPMX-FM SuperBall strike benefit poster, 1968.

6 thoughts on “When Hippies Went On Strike at KMPX-FM

  1. Michael – I came across your post on KSAN/KMPX.
    I’m actually producing a Documentary on KSAN/KMPX and Big Daddy Tom Donahue.
    (“Something In The Air – A Rock Radio Revolution)
    focusing on San Francisco’s Legendary Free Form Progressive Radio Station –
    KSAN JIVE95, founded by Big Daddy Tom Donahue in 1968.
    KSAN covered the most important cultural, political and musical
    events at the time, led by their DJs and Newscasters – Dusty Street, Scoop Nisker,
    Terry McGovern, Bonnie Simmons, Edward Bear, Rachel Donahue,
    Richard Gossett, Norman Davis, Stefan Ponek and many others.
    Here is the Sizzle Trailer to the Documentary.

    We have so much current and archival content that it is possible to create a
    3 Episodic Documentary Series beginning with KMPX and the Birth of Free-Form Radio
    and the San Francisco Sound.
    PART 2 would be the beginnings of KSAN following the KMPX Strike leading up to
    Big Daddy Tom Donahue’s passing in 1975.
    The final chapter would be KSAN’s final years before changing their Format and
    shifting to country music. Included would be the influence and airplay of Punk and New Wave
    (KSAN’s broadcast of the Sex Pistol’s Winterland Concert.)

    1. Hi Jesse — Looks great. The doc will be wonderful! If it’s useful, see chapter 2 of my book The Republic of Rock, which tries best as I could to tell the story of the KMPX strike. All best, Michael

  2. Hi, I saw your post while nostalgically googling KMPX. In 1967 I was only 14 years old but already listening to Larry Miller’s late-night show (a welcome breath of fresh air in the wasteland of top 40 radio). A few months after Tom Donahue became program director I took a bus across the Bay Bridge, walked into the studio offices on Green St and asked if I could work there. Amazingly they took me in and for a start let me help Paul Bouchet produce commercials (eventually I stated getting paid $1.25 an hour–and even got school credits). After I got my broadcast engineers license I starting filling in for the regulars and eventually started working regularly with Don Sturdy (Howard Hessman) and Voco (Abe Keshshian) who knew everything about popular music and became my mentor. Tom even gave me a dj slot on Sunday mornings but I was terrible. After the strike and move to KSAN Tom made sure they hired me but it just wasn’t the same and I eventually just quit and never went back to radio.

    Those two years were some of the best in my life and I would be very happy to share with you my experiences and stories about life at the station (for example how Voco was personally responsible for the making gospel song “Oh Happy Days” an international hit).

    You are welcome to contact me by e-mail, in any case I look forward to seeing the finished dochmentary.

    Regards,
    Eddy Goldberg

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