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Larry Bensky

Larry Bensky, veteran broadcaster at KPFA in Berkeley, California, passed away Sunday, May 19th, 2024 at the age of 87. Larry was best known as the national affairs correspondent for Pacifica Radio from 1987 to 1998. Larry covered numerous national and international events for Pacifica, including the Iran–Contra hearings in 1987, the confirmation hearings for four Supreme Court justices, the 1990 elections in Nicaragua, and numerous demonstrations and protests in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. He anchored Pacifica’s live coverage of the 9/11 Commission hearings, and co-anchored Pacifica’s coverage of many Democratic and Republican conventions, as well as the Presidential debates. He was anchor for Pacifica’s extensive coverage of the post-2004 election controversy in Ohio, as well as several Congressional hearings about the misuse of executive power in the Bush administration.

Larry was also host of the public affairs show Sunday Salon for many years and later came out of retirement to host the classical Sunday morning music program, Piano.

Larry also wrote for The Nation, magazine, and was a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review. A longtime resident of Berkeley, he was a political writer and columnist for the East Bay Express for fifteen years.

He appeared as a guest journalist on C-SPAN, CNN, The Today Show, and The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, as well as on San Francisco KQED-FM’s “Forum” and KQED-TV’s “This Week in Northern California.” In addition, he was founding managing editor (1999–2000) of the web site Mediachannel.org.

Larry won the prestigious George Polk Award for his coverage of Iran–Contra, and has won five Gold Reel awards from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. He has won a career achievement award from the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Golden Gadfly award from Media Alliance.

In addition to his work as a journalist, Bensky spent twelve years teaching broadcast journalism classes at Stanford, and courses in mass communication, journalism, broadcasting, and political science at California State University, East Bay (CSUEB) in Hayward, California. He also taught media criticism and analysis at Berkeley City College and political science at CSUEB.

Bensky was a political activist since the 1960s, working with nuclear disarmament and anti-war groups in New York City, Paris, and San Francisco during the Vietnam War. In 1968, he signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War. He co-designed and wrote numerous successful direct mail appeals for Modern progressive organizations, including Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and the United Farm Workers. He was a devout pacifist and an outspoken opponent of capital punishment.

Click here to listen to a Larry Bensky Retrospective, a two-hour look at Larry’s career and after his initial retirement in 2007. Hosted by Aileen Alfandary and produced by Aaron Glantz at KPFA.

Larry’s funeral is on Monday, May 20th. We will announce any plans for a memorial when those arrangements are made and update them here.




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