It was October of 1982. Jefferson Starship–complete with Kantner and Grace Slick–was launching a 20-day tour with a concert at Illinois State University. A local minister, Rev. Wesley Ates of the First Pentecostal Church in Bloomington, Ill., had claimed the devil spoke backwards on Beatles records and urged people to attend his prayer service rather than the Starship event.
I was host of a talk show on WJBC Radio. Rev. Ates had challenged Kantner and Slick to a debate about rock’s impact on young people. Kantner had read about Ates in a San Francisco newspaper. So he was quick to say “yes” to a debate when I approached his camp about the idea.
We wanted a live, in-person audience, but we didn’t want a mob scene. So we quietly arranged to do the broadcast in a relatively small room in ISU’s student center. We invited Rev. Ates to bring along 25 of his supporters and filled another 40 seats with students who were happy to occupy them when they learned what was about to happen.
The event was broadcast live on both WJBC and its sister (rock) station WBNQ. What you’re about to hear is the complete discussion–in other words, you’ll also hear what went on during commercial and news breaks. Enjoy! (Photos courtesy of McLean County Museum of History)
Darren Peacock says
I was one of the few people who was I. The audience that day. I was a student at ISU then.
Darren, did you just happen to stop by and discover what was going on or were you among those specially invited by Rev. Ates?
Sharon Beaudin says
I just had a chance to listen to this broadcast. I did enjoy it. I always thought that Jefferson Starship was a pretty mellow group. Not as intense as Jefferson Airplane. I appreciated Paul Kantner’s honesty in the inrerview. I agreed with him about the music having been in that generation myself. Thanks Steve for airing it. I even found it pretty relevant in todays very divided world.
When I came across the recording, I thought I should archive it somewhere. I’m hoping some of the rock music websites and magazines will eventually make readers aware of it.
Jerry Denney says
Rev. Ates was our church pastor for around a dozen years. We have all the news clippings and other connected items.
I was struck by the fact (I had forgotten or just plain missed it in the original airing) that Ates and Kantner had a pre-show telephone discussion. I suspect they were both trying to determine whether the joint appearance would be worthwhile, maybe even respectful. I was also pretty impressed with the questions they fielded from the audience. Do you know if Rev. Ates is still around?