Starting Friday, February 26th, from 8-9am, KCSB-FM will begin weekly airings of a documentary series that originally premiered on the station in the mid-1980s, Don’t Bank on Amerika: The History of the Isla Vista Riots of 1970. Written and produced by Malcolm Gault-Williams, Don’t Bank on Amerika tells the comprehensive story of a turbulent and transformative period at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and in its neighboring “college town,” Isla Vista. The series’ inaugural broadcast marks the fortieth anniversary of the torching of I.V.’s Bank of America branch, and will feature a new conversation with Gault-Williams after his original episode.
The bank burning became a symbol of opposition to the Vietnam War, but the spark for such unrest was more complex than any one cause. Don’t Bank on Amerika begins its analysis by recapping the events of 1968 and the takeover of North Hall by black students protesting racism at UCSB. Relying on extensive research (including actualities from the KCSB archives), Don’t Bank on Amerika highlights key incidents that roiled a once-sleepy community (including the forced shutdown of KCSB in April of 1970).
KCSB is reaching into its audio archives to remaster and edit the original series. The station will also host special guests and supplementary segments at the end of each weekly broadcast, bringing listeners new reflections on the causes and impacts of that important time in our region’s history. Parallels between the subjects of the series and our current moment will also be considered.
KCSB’s updated re-airing of Don’t Bank on Amerika follows the station’s sneak preview in November of William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe, a documentary film about the radical attorney blamed by some for inciting the arson. Other events commemorating this milestone anniversary are also planned for UCSB’s All-Gaucho Reunion Weekend (April 23-25).
About Malcolm Gault-Williams: Writer and producer of the series Don’t Bank on Amerika, Malcolm Gault-Williams became a student DJ at KCSB-FM in 1969, through the period of the I.V. riots. During the 1980s, Gault-Williams served as KCSB’s non-student manager and later its staff advisor. Leaving broadcasting in the 1990s for a brief career in the computer industry, Gault-Williams continued his work as a writer. In the new millennium he returned to UCSB, joining the staff at Davidson Library. An overview of his work on the history behind Don’t Bank on Amerika can be found here.