The Day The KKK Bombed KPFT

Yesterday morning during KPFT's biannual pledge drive, the station was paying homage to recently deceased color-barrier breaker Lena Horne by giving away copies of her biography Stormy Weather and highlighting a 40-minute interview with the black singer/actress about her relationship with whites in the entertainment industry and civil rights activists like W.E.B. DuBois.

Forty years ago today, the station, which had been on the air for only two months, was bombed by Jimmy Dale Hutto, a Grand Wizard in the Ku Klux Klan who objected to the Pacifica station's Progressive forum and messages such as Horne's.

According to the blog Arcane Radio Trivia, KPFT is the first, second and only radio station in the United States to have its transmitter blown up by terrorists.

This year, the station celebrates its 40th anniversary as the fourth Pacifica radio station in America and the first listener-supported radio in Houston. The nine-minute video above details the first bombing and the station's founding.
1960s Texas Music via Bill Narum collection
The KPFT staff poses for a group picture in 1970.

According to Houston Indymedia, members of the Klan orchestrated the bombing by ingratiating themselves into Houston's early-1970s progressive political scene.

Space City!, in its Nov. 14, 1970 issue, reported that two well-known Klansmen - Louis Beam and Jim Hutto - were picked up driving with their lights off near a local radio station after a bomb threat had been called in. They were equipped in paramilitary garb, "with several rifles, a bottle of gasoline and a walkie-talkie." They had been spotted near the Space City! office earlier in the evening.

They were released without charges. Louis Beam -- who was implicated in the KPFT bombing and the bombing of a Socialist Workers Party headquarters in Houston -- would himself become a Grand Dragon, spend some time on the FBI's most wanted list, be acquitted of sedition and become a leader of the Aryan Nation and the Christian Identity movement.

Frank Converse admitted that the Klan had members working undercover in the police and city government. And, "for over two years we kept Klansmen working in the SDS," he said, but added that they had pulled them out for fear their cover would be blown.

It goes on:

Jim Hutto had in fact successfully infiltrated Houston SDS for a bit, selling himself as a working class hero. The Klan attempted to infiltrate the Space City! staff but scrawny and clueless "Mike Love" didn't fool anyone for long. In what - through the coolness of retrospection - seems genuinely knuckleheaded, a couple of staffers actually went to a cross-burning and photographed Love in full Klan regalia. Space City! ran the photos in the next issue.

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I remember bullet proof glass in the 70s at the front window,maybe just a story.  Anyway, DEATH TO THE KLAN

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