I’m fifty-something, was born and raised in Austin, am happily married to Perry, with two grown sons, David and Sean. We have two lovely daughters-in-law and a couple of beautiful young grandsons.
I’m one of a long line of well-read, progressive, political activists. Perhaps the best known was my late great-uncle, John Henry Faulk, the humorist who became a passionate defender of the First Amendment after his promising career in radio was derailed by false accusations that got him blacklisted during the McCarthy era.
As a young man in the printing trade, my father, Bill McAfee, found himself blacklisted for trying to unionize the company he worked for at the time. So he went into business for himself, opening Futura Press, one of the few union print shops in Texas. Political printing beat its way to his doors. When Frankie Randolph and Ronnie Dugger started The Texas Observer, Futura was the logical place to print it.
Growing up in South Austin the oldest of five children, we absorbed news and politics at family gatherings and around the dinner table. My mother Anne volunteered in progressive political campaigns and occasionally brought her brood along with her on protest marches to the state capitol. She took the responsibility of citizenship in a government “of, by, and for the people” as a high calling and life cause.
Some families talk sports; ours talked politics.
After graduating from the University of Texas with a degree in elementary education, I taught for 31 years, first as a classroom teacher and later as a special education teacher. I retired in May 2011.
As an adult, I underwent a conversion to the Christian faith – the last thing I ever thought would happen, given my level of prejudice. Perry and I are active in Wimberley United Methodist Church. And yes, I too am a progressive and an activist.
Even before I retired, I started pursuing one of my passions, media policy and its impact on democracy. To have the credentials and skills needed to be effective in working on those issues was originally why I went back to school and began studying journalism and mass communication at Texas State University, and completed a master’s degree at age 59.
But the fires in Central Texas in September 2011 caused me to realize that my town had no way to quickly alert residents to dangerous situations. After exploring the options, several of us determined to try to remedy that.
Texas State University offered great flexibility, allowing me to refocus my degree path on media management and radio production, with a concentration in new media.
The following spring, we formed a new non-profit, Wimberley Valley Radio, to change that. We have applied for a low power FM broadcast license and plan to start an Internet radio station to better meet Wimberley’s need for timely, accurate, local information. I am currently serving as board president of Wimberley Valley Radio.