The Lost Tapes: The LA Riots

Network: Smithsonian Channel
Part of the network series: The Lost Tapes

In April 1992, following the not guilty verdicts in the trial of four white LAPD officers who beat Los Angeles motorist Rodney King, the city erupted into civil unrest not seen in the United States since the 1960s.  This episode details all aspects of what happened during six days of rioting, told through rare media reports, home movies, police and fire radio dispatches and a remarkable series of recordings made by the DJ’s of Compton’s KJLH Radio, who abandoned their music format and became an all-talk station.  For six days, KJLH became a beacon of hope for a community under siege, letting callers vent their frustrations and keeping their listeners updated on areas to avoid, all the while staying calm under the most intense pressure of their careers.