words by ethel & paul

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Joe Redburn’s voice--heard by thousands, maybe millions--kept the air agitated from the Wasatch to the Oquirrhs and way beyond--even all over the forbidden backlands of Utah--during some of the most politically active years in our nation’s history. The radio voice of Joe Redburn, a joy and an irritant, was first heard on KSXX-AM in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Joe had unexcelled radio presence. If it can be said that a voice has “presence”--his had it. That may mean, as it whizzed over landlines and winged across the magical ether, those who listened felt his presence, and many, who did not intend to listen, were caught by it.

Joe managed to be always alive, alert, and amiable. He could challenge without trying to dominate; could disagree without disparaging. He was a hub--THE radio hub--of the wheel of protest against the USA war against Viet Nam.

Whatever the subject, he was constantly under attack by the right and especially Utah’s own brand of “ultra-right”. He responded with entertaining good humor--his ready wit was extravagant.

This should not hint that Joe was a go-along-er; he was not without his own direction. He was true to his own compass. When he asked Starley Bush for days off to go to the Democratic Convention of 1968 in Chicago, Starley said “No.” Joe said, “I go.” Starley said, “No job.” Joe said, “Goodbye.”

That decision included Joe in the demonstrations and protests that ignited the startling, confrontational, wild police riots of Chicago. “Hippies” and “Yippies” (the media liked to use those words) were loaded into Black Mariahs singing at top volume, “We shall overcome”.

It wasn’t fun and games. The cops were deadly serious and willing to be deadly--nay, eager to be deadly. Heads were cracked; bruises were laid down. Battles were bloody.

When Joe returned to Salt Lake City with excitement ringing in his voice, Starley welcomed him back.

Now, now--imagine having Joe back.

No, some things cannot be repeated. All of it--all the hope, all the sorrow, the camaraderie, all the good will and the anger, are history. Period.

Ethel C. Hale and W. Paul Wharton