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Mae Brussell, the KLRB and KAZU years

Mae Brussell at work.

Mae Brussell at work.

In the service of my course on conspiracies and conspiracy theories at UC Santa Cruz, I’ve been listening to Mae Brussell’s many radio programs on YouTube.

“At some point you have to get information or documentation about what’s happening,” Brussell told her radio audience in July of 1972,  “you can’t just sit in the drawing room and say ‘isn’t this just like 1984?’ [the George Orwell novel]. If you think that ’72 is ’84, read some books so you can figure out how it became that way and halt the progress.”

The Mae Brussell Archive on YouTube appears to have all or most of Brussell’s opus. Brussell was born in 1922, the daughter of a New York rabbi. The assassination of John F. Kennedy horrified her, and she set out to make her own determination of what happened. This led Brussell along many other tangents, which she shared with the listeners of Carmel, California community radio station KLRB-FM through the 1970s. Later she hosted her “Dialogue Conspiracy” show on KAZU-FM, then operating out of Pacific grove.

I can’t say that I agree with many of Brussell’s conclusions. “To open up Watergate,” she opined in 1972, “I consider opening up the Dorothy Hunt plane crash, the death of J. Edgar Hoover, the shooting of George Wallace, the accident at Chappaquiddick, and back to 1968, the Robert Kennedy assassination.”

Brussell was, to my mind, a meta-conspiracyist, endlessly linking seemingly discrete events to each other. But her stream-of-consciousness commentaries, and her dialogues and quarrels with other conspiracy researchers, reminds me of what a remarkable era community radio narrated its way through in the 1970s and 1980s.  From Watergate through Contragate, from the release of the Pentagon Papers through the full disclosure of the CIA’s MKULTRA LSD program, who, fully following all of this, wouldn’t come to at least a few fairly draconian conclusions?

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