Monday-Friday
6A        Morning Edition
9A        Music
3P        Fresh Air
4P        All Things Considered
6:30P  The Daily

7P        Eclectic After Dark
banner101 3

for more than 50 years. Jon Kalish hide caption

toggle caption Jon Kalish

Bob Fass, longtime radio host for WBAI, died Saturday. His show, Radio Unnameable, aired for more than 50 years.

Jon Kalish

Bob Fass, who hosted the influential New York City radio show Radio Unnameable for more than 50 years, died on Saturday in North Carolina at age 87. His death was confirmed by his wife Lynn.

His late night show introduced dozens of major folk artists and served as a megaphone for the emerging 1960s counterculture.

At the height of its popularity, Radio Unnameable ran five hours and aired five nights a week. Fass left New York in 2019 and continued to do the show from his home in North Carolina, though it was on just one night a week for three hours. But Fass continued to begin each broadcast with his signature greeting, "Good morning, cabal!"

The cabal, as he called it, was comprised of his countercultural "conspirators" who opposed the Vietnam War and marched for civil rights. And his show on WBAI-FM, the listener-supported Pacifica Radio station in New York, served as their broadcast meetinghouse.

"Bob Fass more or less invented what we call live radio," said Larry Josephson, one of the other WBAI live radio personalities who followed in Fass' footsteps. "No structure, no script, all improvised. And there was nothing like Bob's program on the radio at the time."

Fass' genius was mixing records, tapes, live musicians and phone callers. He pioneered the art of putting several callers on the air at the same time.

Often his programs spilled into in-person events.

In 1967, he directed his late-night listeners to go to New York's Kennedy Airport for a "fly-in," an airport party that drew 3,000 people.

"I didn't quite grasp the fact that a community was forming at the fly-in," Fass told filmmakers Paul Lovelace and Jessica Wolfson for their 2012 documentary Radio Unnameable. "It was then that the light bulb appeared over my head."

Fass and the cabal also helped organize a Central Park version of the 1967 "Human Be-In" hippie gathering in San Francisco. He also got his listeners to do a "sweep-in," cleaning up blocks on the Lower East Side during a city sanitation strike.

Among the great folk and blues artists to play live on Fass' radio show were Joni Mitchell, Odetta, Carly Simon, Taj Mahal, The Incredible String Band, Moondog, The Holy Modal Rounders, Phil Ochs, and Bob Dylan, who joked around and took listener calls on one show in 1966.

One caller praised Dylan's writing and guitar playing but urged him to "sing a little better."

"I appreciate that," Dylan responded. "Good, solid, rock-bottom, foundational criticism."

Later that year on Radio Unnameable, Arlo Guthrie appeared live on the broadcast and sang what would become a classic song of draft resistance, "Alice's Restaurant." Strumming along were David Bromberg, Jerry Jeff Walker and Ramblin' Jack Elliott.

"By the time we got invited up to Bob Fass' radio station, it had never been recorded certainly, it had never been heard on the radio certainly, because what radio is going to let you sing a half-hour song on the air?" Guthrie told me in a 1987 interview.

The "Alice's Restaurant" recording is among the thousands of hours in Bob Fass' archive, which Columbia University acquired in 2016. The archive, of course, includes calls from Columbia students in 1968 who took over university offices to protest a proposed university gym building in a city park as well as the Vietnam War.

WBAI host Josephson says the 1960s and early '70s were a "golden age" for Fass and the station, "which has not been repeated since. Anything went. And there was some brilliant stuff, brilliant stuff."

Pin it
  • 104.9 FAQs
  • Join Us!
  • 104.9 Insiders
  • SoCo Baby
  • SoCo Calendar
  • Talk To Me
  • Hiding Places
  • Birdwatch

Why is 104.9 becoming an NPR station?

104.9 FM has been purchased by Northern California Public Media. The former KDHT is now KRCB FM. The frequency has been changed, by permission of the FCC, from a commercial station to a non-commercial station. NorCal Public Media wanted to acquire a larger, more powerful radio frequency, and Amaturo Sonoma Media Group was willing to sell 104.9 to NorCal Public Media.

Why did KRCB need another signal?

The former KRCB FM Radio 91 signal covers a very small area, and only a portion of Sonoma County. KRCB FM listeners have made it clear over the decades that what they wanted most from KRCB was to expand the geographic reach and signal strength of the public media news and music service. Over the course of two years, NorCal Public 

More

 

 
KRCB 1049 radio logoBrowse around our site and you'll see a few ways you can join in the effort to make KRCB 104.9 a great community radio station for Sonoma County. You can record a message that we play on-air, give us some new ideas, and keep abreast of what we're doing. New ways to engage with us our coming soon.
 
But there's an old fashioned one that's really important to us: become a member! We're making a big commitment to serving Sonoma County better, and while we really do want you to listen, and participate, helping pay for all of this would be really helpful too! Any amount helps, and we've got lots of cool gifts including some great CDs curated by our DJ Doug Jayne.
 
Please click: www.krcb.org/join   Thank you!
 
 
Welcome to the new KRCB 104.9. This is a forum so we can hear from you, answer your questions, and generally exchange ideas about how we can improve.
FB screenshot
Read More
 
“Sonoma County Baby” began in 2013 as a way to connect new Sonoma County mothers with the history of the county. In cooperation with Sutter Health, a nice book was published that featured the stories of several dozen Sonoma County families, describing how they each came to Sonoma County. The book was given to new moms. The project’s website is here: http://sonomacountybaby.com/.
 
Now, we want to put stories like this on KRCB-FM, Sonoma County’s NPR station. How and when did your family come to Sonoma County? Does your story include some old Sonoma County landmarks that some of us might remember? What was interesting about it? Finding the interesting part is important! These recording are all short, less than a minute or under 100 words. That’s not enough time to tell the whole story—just the highlights. Here's a sample script that’s about the right length. Click "Read More" to hear what others have submitted.
 
Read More
 
Be on KRCB 104.9...answer this month's "Talk to Me" question: What does Sonoma County need that it doesn't already have? 
 
You can do a recording right from your computer or smartphone, but please use an external microphone (ear buds are good enough). Don't worry, you can try as many times you like until you get a "good take." We won’t hear any of the bad ones. After you finish, the page will give you a chance to listen and decide if you like it. Once you get a good one, you'll be asked for your name and email address. Then hit "Send.” (Click "reset" if you would rather try again.)
 
Go to the recorder page
 
Each week, Santa Rosa-based travel writer Dana Rebmann introduces us to great local spots to visit. Listen on-air for the latest. Or click here:
 
 Crane Creek Regional Park
 
 Marijke's Sculpture Grove
 
 
Read More

Listen to the Sonoma County Birdwatch!

fullerThroughout the week, we play short segments about what birds are out in Sonoma County and what they sound like, from Harry Fuller. Harry spent his working career as a TV and Internet newsman in the Bay Area.  He’s been leading bird trips and writing about birds for thirty years.  He has written three natural history books: Freeway Birding, I-5 San Francisco to Seattle; San Francisco’s Natural History, Sand Dunes to Streetcars; Great Gray Owl in California, Oregon & Washington. He blogs regularly about birds: atowhee.blog.  And he frequently leads birding trips on the Pacific Coast. Check him out at http://www.towhee.net/.

Northern California
Public Media Newsletter

Get the latest updates on programs and events.