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Historic audio from the WYSO Archives

Exploring Milestones In WYSO's Audio Archives

Martin Luther King's 1965 commencement speech at Antioch College
courtesy of Antiochiana

Today WYSO brings back Rediscovered Radio, our series exploring the past through the station’s historic audio collection. We’re approaching the 50-year mark on many significant events documented in our digital Audio Archives, and so we are beginning a new season of stories. WYSO Archives Fellow Jocelyn Robinson has a preview of what’s to come.

When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed the graduating class of Antioch College in 1965, his talk was entitled “Facing the Challenge of a New Age.” He mentioned one challenge in particular. “The war in Vietnam must be stopped,” said Dr. King.


It was one of the earliest speeches in which Dr. King spoke out against the conflict in Vietnam. Over the next decade, by the time we celebrated the nation’s Bicentennial in 1976, the anti-war movement--and the other social movements that emerged out of the civil rights struggle—challenged and changed America.


The WYSO Archives has some of the sounds of those historic years, such as a recording of a student led teach-in, broadcast on WYSO fifty years ago.

WYSO's broadcast of the 1965 teach-in at Antioch College

One of the invited speakers was Dr. Wesley Fishel, a Michigan State professor and former Southeast Asia advisor to the Eisenhower administration. He spoke of the many years the Vietnamese people had experienced war, and the circumstances of the country’s division along the 17th parallel.


As U.S. involvement in Vietnam intensified, young men faced the very real possibility of the draft, and protests against the war often resulted in arrests and jail time. American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Jack Pemberton was invited to campus to advise students about their rights. He stated that, “When we are talking, in ACU circles, about opposition to the war and opposition to the draft, what we are talking about is our concern that there be a forum for this opposition.”

Civil rights lawyer Jack Pemberton speaks at Antioch College

Antioch College professor Michael Kraus
Credit courtesy of Antiochiana
Antioch College professor Michael Kraus

The draft caused a deep moral dilemma for many men. Some chose not to go to war, and to accept the consequences of that decision. Antioch professor Michael Kraus shared his dilemma in a 1969 faculty lecture, “The Making of a War Resistor.”


Antioch College professor Mike Kraus speaking on campus about the draft

Mike Kraus didn’t burn his card, but he sent it back to his draft board in protest.


Many did serve, though, and when they returned, they tried to make sense of their experiences. In late January of 1971 a national group of returned service members called Vietnam Veterans Against the War, organized a three-day media event. Over one hundred vets told their stories – some described war crimes in detail. They called it the Winter Soldier Investigation. It was recorded by Pacifica Radio and broadcast on WYSO, and included testimony from Vietnam veteran William F. Crandell, in 1971 which is part of several hours of testimony included in WYSO's digital audio archives.


Phil Ochs
Credit Chip.berlet / via Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons licensing
via Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons licensing

Listen for our series about the Vietnam period on Rediscovered Radio in the months ahead. We’ll hear from activists, organizers, and artists, people like Abbie Hoffman, Stokley Carmichael, Susan Sontag, Flo Kennedy, Peter Irons, Baldemar Velasquez, Cecil Taylor, and singer/songwriter Phil Ochs, who performed at Wittenberg University in 1972.

Phil Ochs performing at Wittenberg in 1972

For this series, I’ll be joined by a team of Community Voices producers. We’ll delve into the WYSO Archives to bring you stories about the escalating war in Vietnam, about the people who fought it and those who opposed it, about the Black Americans who found their power and the women who found their voices. We’ll also hear from people who can help us reflect on those times, and on the lessons learned.


Rediscovered Radio is made possible by the generous support of Ohio Humanities, and the Greene County Public Library. You can access the WYSO Audio Archives here: http://www.greenecountyroom.info/cdm/landingpage/collection/WYSOProgram

Jocelyn Robinson is a Yellow Springs, Ohio-based educator, media producer, and radio preservationist. As an educator, Robinson has taught transdisciplinary literature courses incorporating critical cultural theory and her scholarship in self-definition and identity. She also teaches community-based and college-level classes in digital storytelling and narrative journalism.
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