Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America

Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America

Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America

Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America


The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries saw the rise of capitalism and the modern nation-state, the establishment of an increasingly international economy, and the beginnings of modern colonialism. It was a turbulent time, marked by revolutionary developments in culture and religion, social conflict, political upheaval, and civil war. It was also an age of passionate debate and radical innovation in political theory and practice. Many contemporary political ideologies and concepts- ideas of the state, civil society, property, and individual rights, to name a few- can trace their ancestry to this era.

Illuminating the roots of contemporary Western political thought, A Trumpet of Sedition surveys canonical texts by prominent thinkers such as Thomas More, Richard Hooker, Thomas Hobbes, and John Locke, radicals like the Levellers and Gerrard Winstanley and other less well known but important figures. In clear and lively prose, while situating them in their social and political context in new and original ways and contrasting the English case to others in Europe. By examining political ideas not merely as free-floating abstractions but as living encounters with the historical experience- the formation of the English state and the rise of agrarian capitalism- A Trumpet of Sedition illuminates the roots of contemporary Western political thought.


The radio is hopeless, just a holding tank for miserable shits who
don't want to offend or defy or speak the truth. They're too bland to
even suck.

—Ben Hamper

JOE PTAK LIVES in a ranch house in Sunset Acres, a neighborhood just off the freeway in San Marcos, Texas. Joe is lanky, talkative, and often longhaired, though he keeps his crop short when he has to go to court. Up on Joe's roof, there's an antenna, about twenty-five or thirty feet tall. In his garage, there used to be a radio station: unwashed, unlicensed, and undoubtedly one of the best in the country. Then the government made him shut it down.

Fliers and graffiti covered its walls. Some days the studio would be littered with junk, only some of which was the station's aging equipment. Other days Joe's partner, Jeffrey “Zeal” Stefanoff, would sweep the place, gently scolding anyone he caught dropping litter. But even then, you wouldn't have to go far to find some trash: just outside, you'd find three big garbage pails filled with beer cans. And a wastepaper basket filled with beer cans. And a milk crate filled with beer cans. You might get the impression that the DJs at Kind Radio weren't always sober, a notion reinforced by the faint but sweet odor of cannabis lingering inside.

But Kind was more than a place to party. It may have been unlicensed—read illegal—but it was the only radio station in San Marcos, and it took it on itself to be the one medium in town that was truly open to local voices. It broadcast city council meetings. It interviewed city planners. It covered local politics with a patriotic passion—not the local patriotism of mindless boosterism and downtown cliques, but the kind that believes in digging up dirt, relieving human misery, and celebrating the lives that the locals really lead.

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