WBCN and The American Revolution
"WBCN and The American Revolution" tells a story that couldn't be more relevant today, about how long before Facebook, Twitter, and GPS, underground radio connected listeners and fueled the profound social, political and cultural changes of the late 1960's and early 70's in Boston and nationally.
100 Days of Optimism
Inclusion StatementThe film follows a compelling cast of characters whose lives intersect via the radio station and music, anti-war activism, civil rights struggles and the women’s and LGBTQ liberation movements, resulting in the transformation of the roles and rights of women, gays and lesbians and African Americans.
About The Project
Help WBCN and The American Revolution go the final mile to completion and entry into major film festivals!
WBCN and The American Revolution is a new, feature-length documentary film that takes viewers on a dazzling, rock and roll roller-coaster ride to witness the dramatic and historic political, social and cultural events during the late-1960s and early-1970’s during what was one of the most volatile and transformative eras in this nation’s history, propelled by a powerful soundtrack of some of the most evocative and memorable music ever created.
This non-profit production tells the previously untold story of the radical, underground radio station WBCN-FM, set against the profound social, political and cultural changes that took place in Boston and nationally, at a time during which virtually every major political and musical figure crossed paths with Boston -- and with WBCN.
Born on March 15, 1968, in makeshift studios in the dressing room of the legendary rock hall, the Boston Tea Party, WBCN aired its unprecedented mix of new and eclectic music and subversive politics, and almost immediately caught the ears of radio listeners, including the hundreds of thousands of college and high school students in the greater Boston area. The station’s impact soon spilled over nationally.
The film shows viewers how Boston, which was overshadowed in 1967 by the exploding, LSD-fueled psychedelic scenes in both San Francisco, during the “Summer of Love,” and in New York City’s East Village, would emerge in 1968 and continue through the early 70’s as a central crossroad of the counterculture and political activism.
We see the emergence of the anti-draft and later the anti-Vietnam War protests; the early days of the Second Wave of feminism and the Gay Liberation movements; militant civil rights struggles, including the Black Panthers and the beginning of the anti-Apartheid movement; environmental awareness; and other efforts to create social and political change and liberation in what had previously been America’s largely white, male-dominated society, all set against the powerful musical and cultural ferment of the day.
And at the hub of it was WBCN.
The story of the station and the era will be told through a rich audio and visual filmic experience expertly and powerfully crafted from the actual sights and sounds of the critical events of the era, as captured by some of the leading filmmakers and photographers of the time, which producers have gathered in an unprecedented archival collection of over 100,000 items shared for the film, woven together with compelling first-person accounts.
The film captures the extraordinary history of WBCN, which in its early days called itself “The American Revolution," through the personal and political journeys of a compelling cast of characters who are connected to the radio station, and whose lives intersect with militant anti-war activism, civil rights struggles, and the beginnings of the women’s and LGBTQ liberation movements. We watch as their struggles and activism, and their innovative use of media, helps change forever the roles and rights of women, gays and lesbians, and African-Americans in the previously white male-dominated American society.
Virtually every leading political and musical figure during the era crossed paths with Boston - and, in turn, with WBCN. Frequently featured on-air were Professors Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn; Abbie Hoffman; Jane Fonda; Daniel Ellsberg; Allen Ginsberg, and John Lennon, Bernadette Devlin, among others.
Meanwhile, WBCN helped launch the careers of many soon to be supergroups, including those who intersected with the station in its early days in the dressing room at the Boston Tea Party, including the Who; Led Zeppelin; Grateful Dead; Fleetwood Mac; and Velvet Underground, which was virtually the club's house band with their dozens of appearances. The station also gave critical broad public exposure and airtime to great blues and jazz artists who had been largely unheard by mass audiences, including B.B. King; Muddy Waters; John Lee Hooker; Miles Davis; and Sun Ra.
Later, with airplay and live appearances, the station helped jump-start the careers of Bruce Springsteen; Bonnie Raitt; Patti Smith; Aerosmith; and Bob Marley and the Wailers; among many others.
The film's dramatic and engaging first-person accounts are juxtaposed against a wealth of never before seen powerful and stunning photographs and films of the critical events and public figures of the times, taken by many of the era's leading photojournalists and documentary filmmakers, along with exciting photos and graphics from the era that have been shared by the public and private collections as part of an unprecedented archival search that resulted in more than 100,000 audio and visual items being made available for the project.
The documentary film represents the vision of producer, Bill Lichtenstein, who worked starting in 1970 at age 14, at WBCN, as a newscaster and later as an on-air announcer. At WBCN, he helped pioneer the station’s innovative air sound including with his audio montages of actualities, music and comedy for the news and other programs. Bill later worked for seven years at ABC News as a three-time Emmy-nominated investigative producer and since 1990 as founder and president of the Peabody Award-winning Lichtenstein Creative Media. As a print and broadcast journalist he has won more than 60 major media awards.
The film is being completed for entry into the major film festivals in the fall of 2018 (Sundance, South by Southwest, Tribeca among others) and is slated for at least a limited theatrical release and airing on public television.
The film follows WBCN from its initial focus on music and then politics, set against the emerging anti-draft and later anti-Vietnam War movements. Later, following the brutal events of 1968, including the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Richard Nixon is elected president and becomes a primary antagonist for the station, and for many young people, as the station champions efforts for peace in Vietnam along with the emergence of the Second Wave of Feminism, gay rights movement, and other struggles for social change and equality. The story ends in 1974 with Nixon's departure from the presidency and the end of the Vietnam War, as the "We Generation" transforms itself into the "Me Generation." The film's story of how media created social change, as well as the importance of a free press and free expression, is as timely now as it was then.
Chapter 1. Boston - Before the Revolution 1967
Act 1: 1967 - 1968
Chapter 2. The Boston Tea Party
Chapter 3. Ugly Radio is Dead
Chapter 4. A New Kind of Radio
Act 2: 1968 – 1972
Chapter 5: WBCN and The American Revolution
Chapter 6: 1968: The Year that Changed Everything for WBCN and the World
Chapter 7: Campus Unrest
Chapter 8: Peace in the Air
Chapter 9: WBCN: The Hub of the Community and the Soundtrack of the City
Chapter 10: WBCN News and Public Affairs
Chapter 11: The News Dissector
Chapter 12: The Second Wave of Feminism
Chapter 13: The Lavender Hour: Gender Freedom in the Air
Chapter 14: Lock Up
Chapter 15: We've Got to Get Rid of Nixon
Act 3: 1973 – 1974
Chapter 16: 50 Stories Above Boston
Chapter 17: Rock and Roll Future
Chapter 18: Nixon's Resignation and the End of the Revolution
Chapter 19: Lessons Learned
Chapter 20: Epilogue
Together we can help this landmark documentary go the final mile to completion in time for entry into the major 2018 film festivals.
WBCN and The American Revolution tells a story that resonates today, at a time when, once again, media is at the center of efforts for democracy and social change, by showing viewers, including a new generation of concerned young people, how in the days before Facebook and Twitter, and before cell phones and GPS, powerful changes were facilitated through the convergence of media, politics and culture -- and some of the most evocative music ever written -- creating a movement that helped end a war and drove two unpopular sitting presidents from office.
At a time when it's never been easier to communicate, but never been more difficult to be heard, it's a timely and critical story to be told.
Please support the completion of WBCN and The American Revolution with your tax-deductible pledge now through our 501(c)(3) non-profit fiscal sponsor, the Center for Independent Documentary.
Major underwriters include Mass. Humanities; Lifescape; RAGS Foundation; Mitchell Kertzman; Jonathan Kraft and family; Andrew Hixon; Jenny and Jon Steingart; and Dan Beach.
Use the WishList to pledge cash and loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an incentive directly.
About This Team
Bill Lichtenstein, Producer and Director
Bill began his media career in 1970 at the age of 14 at WBCN-FM, first as a volunteer answering the station's Listener Line, and later as a newscaster and announcer. Bill’s subsequent work as a journalist spans the next nearly 50 years, and includes seven years at ABC News “20/20,” “World News Tonight” and “Nightline,” where he produced investigative reports, and, since 1990, as president of Lichtenstein Creative Media, an independent media production company based in Cambridge, MA.
Bill Lichtenstein and LCMedia have been the recipient of more than 60 major broadcast honors, including a George Foster Peabody Award, TV and radio's highest honor; United Nations Media Award; Cine Golden Eagle; Guggenheim Fellowship; eight National Headliner Awards; and three national news Emmy Awards nominations.
From 1979 to 2005 Bill was a Member of the Faculty of the New School University, where he taught "Investigative Reporting" and "Documentary Filmmaking."
Bill's documentary film, “West 47th Street,” aired on the PBS series "P.O.V.," won "Best Documentary" at the Atlanta Film Festival and was called "must see" by Newsweek.
Bill was executive producer of the national, weekly public radio series, "The Infinite Mind," for 10 years public radio’s most honored and listened to health and science program; and the documentary "If I Get Out Alive," narrated by Academy Award-winning actress and youth advocate Diane Keaton, which examined the brutal conditions faced by juveniles in the adult prison system.
Bill writes regularly on media, politics and health for the HuffPost, and has written for the New York Times, Nation, Newsday, Boston Globe, and Village Voice. Bill’s news photography has appeared on the front page of the New York Daily News and the Baltimore Sun. Bill wrote about WBCN and The American Revolution in an Op-Ed piece for the Boston Globe, and for the HuffPost.
Rob Massey, Director of Photography
Rob has worked on assignment for ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, PBS and CNN as well as shooting independent documentaries.
Boyd Estus, Camera
Boyd was director of photography of the Academy Award-winning "The Flight of the Gossamer Condor" and of the Academy Award-nominated "Eight Minutes to Midnight." His work has received National News Emmy Awards, CINE Golden Eagles and Peabody Award.
Daniel Mooney, Supervising Editor
Daniel is a filmmaker, editor, and designer. His editing work includes with Errol Morris on A Thin Blue Line and Standard Operation Procedure. He teaches motion picture editing and filmmaking at Brandeis University and Boston University.
Ethan Schwelling, Editor
Ethan is a veteran of Frontline and American Experience productions at WGBH, and independent films at Powderhouse Productions. He is a graduate of Emerson College.
Jay Rooney, Associate Producer
Jay Rooney wrote and produced comedy material for air on WBCN in the early 1970s as part of the group "Real Life," and later created short films and radio programs. He has since built several successful businesses and is an avid collector of radio and photographic archives.
David Bieber, Associate Producer
David was Director of Special Projects for the Phoenix Media/Communications Group and previously handled all marketing, PR and advertising at WBCN for 16 years. David has contributed hundreds of articles and photos to numerous books and publications including Billboard and the Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock 'N' Roll.
Paul Adams/Mass Productions, Audio and Video Archival Digitization
Paul Adams and Mass Productions are responsible for the digitization of the audio and video archives for WBCN and The American Revolution. Paul's background includes working in radio as an announcer and audio engineer at WQRC on Cape Cod.
Peter Miller, Story Editor and Consulting Producer
Peter has co-produced PBS documentaries by Ken Burns including the epic PBS series "The War" and "Jazz," and the Peabody Award-winning "Frank Lloyd Wright." Peter’s own documentary films include the highly-acclaimed "A.K.A. Doc Pomus," about the legendary songwriter. He brings to WBCN and The American Revolution his experience in managing films with large volume archives and helping craft them into compelling documentaries.
Anthony Wermuth, Music Consultant
Anthony Wermuth has done just about everything you can do in the music business ... except become rich. He began as a volunteer at WBCN-FM in 1971, answering the station's Listener Line. and later worked in production, news and comedy on air.
Christopher T. Bavitz, Legal Advisor
Christopher T. Bavitz is Managing Director of Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and Clinical Instructor and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School. Chris concentrates on intellectual property and media law, particularly in the areas of music, entertainment, and technology. Previously, Chris served as Senior Director of Legal Affairs for EMI Music North America.
Jay Fialkov, Legal Advisor
Jay Fialkov is deputy general counsel and an executive producer at WGBH, and president of WGBH’s music publishing companies. As a former entertainment attorney, his clients included Phish, George Thorogood, the estate of famed bluesman Robert Johnson, and Rounder Records.
John Scagliotti, Production Advisor
John was WBCN's news and public affairs director and worked at the station with his partner, Andy Kopkind, a former Time magazine reporter and a leading alternative journalist in the late 1960s. At WBCN, John and Andy produced the first regularly scheduled gay and lesbian broadcast program in 1973, “The Lavender Hour,” which would later inspire Scagliotti to create “In the Life,” the first gay and lesbian TV show, airing on PBS, and his Emmy Award-winning film “Before Stonewall.”
Robert Sennott, Executive Producer
Rob worked at WBCN in its early days and later became a successful entrepreneur and executive specializing in sales, marketing and business development. He has launched and run numerous successful companies. Rob also served on the board of directors of the Upper Valley Haven, a Vermont social service and anti-poverty program.
Center for Independent Documentary (CID) is the non-profit 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor of WBCN and The American Revolution. CID has been collaborating with independent producers for more than 25 years with over 150 films seen on HBO, PBS, at the Sundance Festival, which have earned numerous awards from Emmy’s to Peabody’s.
Lichtenstein Creative Media is a Peabody Award-winning independent media production company located in Cambridge, MA. LCMedia has extensive media production, distribution and educational/community outreach experience, particularly with social justice and human rights issues.
Advisory Board: Pat Aufderheide, American University; Professor Noam Chomsky; Rob Cox, Director of the U. Mass. Special Collection and University Archives; Jeff Feuerzig, filmmaker; Hester Fuller, journalist; Attorney Peter Jaszi; American University; Marc Kirkeby, former VP Sony Music; Jeff Kisseloff, author; Al Kooper, musician; Phillip Martin, WGBH; Professor Philip Rosen, Brown University; Professor Robert Ross, Clark University; Ken Steinhardt; and Dick Wingate, DEV Advisors.