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RADIO UNNAMEABLE

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PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY PAUL LOVELACE AND JESSICA WOLFSON

Bob Fass: midnight to 5 a.m., 5 days a week, his soothing voice was heard over the airwaves on WBAI-FM. Anyone living in NYC in the 1960s and ‘70s and who experienced even one night of insomnia remembers that voice. A pioneer of free-form radio, Fass let the talk and music flow all night long, as some of the city slept and some of it followed him to a “Yip-In” at Grand Central Station, the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention, and a “human fly-in” at JFK airport. An amazing roster of guests – Arlo Guthrie, Allen Ginsberg, Kinky Friedman, Abbie Hoffman, Bob Dylan, Carly Simon – showed up unannounced and unedited. Long before Twitter or Facebook, before shock-jocks and reality TV, before Occupy Wall Street and flash mobs – Bob Fass helped change the face of media and brought the counterculture face to face with the rest of America. RADIO UNNAMEABLE collages archival footage of NYC from this era with tapes from some of Fass’s most memorable programs – emulating its subject’s own commitment to immediacy, honesty and irreverence. Bob Fass continues to be heard on WBAI Thursdays, from midnight until 3 a.m.

USA • 2012  • 87 MINS.

REVIEWS

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“Mr. Fass narrates old war (and antiwar) stories with vivid clarity and impeccable timing… It can make you wish – or, if you’re lucky, remember – that you were a sleepless New Yorker in 1967, kept from loneliness by a gentle, soulful voice on the radio.”
– A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“A flavorsome local history, a celebration of the broadcast medium, and a movie that approaches the…’60s counterculture from a fresh angle. Fass was at his height both baby-sitter and rabble-rouser. He used the airwaves to construct a community… a clubhouse for the New Left’s greatest showboats: Paul Krassner and Abbie Hoffman… an evocative collage…a time capsule. Fass was in a sense New York’s quintessential (East) Village voice – the great ongoing commentator on unbelievable oddness of boho life in Mayor Lindsay’s ‘fun city.’”
– J. Hoberman, Artinfo

“Presents an impressively cogent history of the American Left from 1963 to the present, while profitably abstaining from the pro-forma nostalgia that often saturates documentaries about the Sixties.  Fass is a winning on-screen presence whose unexpected reticence charms.  The directors balance their admiration…with a studious illumination of the cultural forces swirling around and through him.  Now 79, Fass says that… he has always considered himself a friend to the friendless, a necessary companion to ‘people alone in their room with a radio.’  It is the image of this noble, ill-treated remnant of a more hopeful, less fractious Left that gives RADIO UNNAMEABLE its soul.”
– Jonathan Robbins, Film Comment online

“A cult hero…(who) has kept New York City’s insomniacs and graveyard shift workers company for almost 50 years.”
– Melissa Anderson, Village Voice

RADIO UNNAMEABLE superbly recreates a time when the radio mattered.”
– Robert Silva, Indiewire

“Top notch.  Drawing from Fass’s extensive personal archive of audio recordings, RADIO UNNAMEABLE celebrates one of radio’s unsung heroes and his remarkable life in and out of the spotlight.”
– Alexis Hauk, Radio World

“Fass has come to define an era of radio that had a profound influence on our culture.  Paul Lovelace and Jessica Wolfson tell Fass’s story by utilizing a treasure trove of archival material, interviews and audio.”
– Tom Hall, Filmmaker Magazine

“Examines the legacy of a New York counter-cultural legend. A love letter to the radio show hosted by Bob Fass… the man who turned free-form radio into an art form.”
– Jon Kalish, Current Magazine

FIVE STARS
[highest rating]
"A treasure trove. Terrific. A helluva lot of fun. ”
– Joe Neumaier, Daily News

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RADIO UNNAMEABLE: Q & A with radio personality BOB FASS (Recorded September 21, 2012)