“WBCN and The American Revolution” is a landmark, feature-length documentary that tells the previously untold story of the early days of the radical, underground radio station, WBCN, set against the dazzling and profound social, political, and cultural changes that took place in Boston and nationally during the late-1960s and early-70s.
It’s the incredible, true story of how a radio station, politics and rock and roll changed everything. The film is produced by the Peabody Award-winning independent production company, Lichtenstein Creative Media.
Ty Burr, the Pulitzer-prize nominated film critic for the Boston Sunday Globe wrote: “I watched the movie with awe,” and the film won “Best Documentary” at the 2019 DC Independent Film Festival and was the “Centerpiece: Documentary Spotlight” at the 2019 Independent Film Festival of Boston, where it sold out a 900-seat screening.
The film shows how Boston, which was overshadowed in 1967 by the exploding psychedelic scenes in both San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district and New York City’s East Village, emerged as the central crossroad of the counterculture and political activism in the late-1960s and early-1970s.
The story is told through the extraordinary history of WBCN, which in its early days called itself “The American Revolution,” and the personal and political journeys of a compelling cast of characters who connect and intersect through the radio station and exploding music scenes, militant anti-war activism, civil rights struggles, and the emerging women’s and LGBTQ-liberation movements.
The film includes dramatic first-person accounts from the radio station’s staff along with newly filmed and archival material that features the leading political, social, cultural and musical figures of the day, who crossed paths with the radio station. They include Noam Chomsky, Abbie Hoffman, Jane Fonda, Jerry Garcia and Duane Allman, Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen in his first radio interview, and Patti Smith, performing in her first live radio broadcast.
The documentary also includes never before exhibited film material shot by Andy Warhol and cinema vérité pioneer Ricky Leacock and images from leading photojournalists of the day, including the late Peter Simon, brother of Carly Simon, who is interviewed in the film.
These dramatic and compelling stories in “WBCN and The American Revolution” are expertly and powerfully interwoven with the original sights and sounds of the critical events of the era, through the more than 100,000 audio and visual items shared by the public for the film in an unprecedented archives search.
The film tells a story that is timely and relevant, especially to young people, who are seeking to use media to create social change.
Director and producer Bill Lichtenstein worked at WBCN starting at age 14 as a volunteer on the station’s Listener Line and later as a newscaster and announcer with his own weekly show. Bill’s last film, “West 47th Street,” won Special Jury Award for Documentary at the Atlanta Film Festival; Audience Award for Best Documentary at the DC Independent Film Festival; and Honorable Mention at the Woodstock Film Festival. It later aired on PBS’s P.O.V. and was called “must see” by Newsweek and “remarkable” by the Washington Post.