By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Rob Thorn has always lived in a threatening world. His mother said he's the "super patriot" of her four children. He said his mother is the inspiration of his life. A crime reporter in Homestead, Florida, she managed to uncover enough intrigue in that small town to keep life ever exciting in the Thorn household. The town council was a crime syndicate, Rob says. During the day, his mother was often followed by a crop-duster; at night, she would get threatening calls from "the black hand of death." One of Rob's childhood memories is banging pots and pans over a "bug" they found in an air-conditioning vent.
He had trouble academically, "didn't study as well then as now,'' he explains. He enrolled in Miami-Dade Junior College to avoid the Vietnam War. He smoked a lot of marijuana there, but again, didn't study, and when he realized his grades weren't good enough to keep him out of the draft, Thorn got on a motorcycle and set off to discover America.
He fought his way across the country. It seemed that in nearly every small town, someone wanted to fight him. "The rednecks always wanted to cut my hair," he recalls. Thorn says he was arrested more times than he can count and spent many days and nights languishing in small-town jails. It was a sobering experience, and without the marijuana, he came to his political enlightenment. He discovered that McCarthy was right: there were commies everywhere. They passed out LSD at rock concerts; they tried to lure him into their communes. But he knew what they were doing. They were weakening America's moral fiber to make way for a Soviet invasion.
When he got back to Homestead, Thorn found that his record of fighting for himself had disqualified him from fighting for his country. He went to work as a counselor on a crisis hot line and became one of the early members of the Libertarian Party. He wrote speeches, debated on the debate team. Freedom was an urgent matter. He fought with words.
Then a terrible thing happened. Thorn married a liberal.
She was very smart and she argued him out of every conviction he had. He lost his interest in politics and with it, his confidence. "She fed me my opinions," Thorn says. "For five years, she made me a wimp."
In 1980, Thorn's liberal wife finally kicked him into the cold. Lost and bereft, he headed to the airport determined to take the first plane out. "I was going to hell,'' he says. "It didn't matter what door I went through."
That's how Rob Thorn came to Houston. The independent, Texas spirit did his confidence a world of good. His first job was distributing Houston Home & Garden magazine, and by last year, he was a security guard when he met Tom Maxton in the Libertarian Party. As they watched the dismal vote totals come in, they realized the media were ignoring their candidates. They came up with an idea: why not create their own medium, promote their own truth? Thorn had a polished voice; Maxton was a real-estate man with a little startup money. They put it all together, and the Voice of Freedom was first heard last November.
"All the truth the mainstream media won't tell you," Thorn says happily. "That's our motto."
He dreams now that his ex-wife will call up one night while he's on the air and start arguing politics again. Thorn believes he could take her.
The show is his only job. He earns about $800 a month from it and lives on soup and crackers -- "actually, more crackers than soup," he says. But it's the best job he's ever had, and Thorn says he's a man on a mission. On KFCC, his show has been carried by satellite to a few AM stations in other parts of the country, and Thorn says he's received letters from seven states and calls from as far away as Alaska. He figures he has maybe 5,000 listeners, but "they're the most politically pissed-off group out there." Their numbers are expected to increase on August 6, when the Voice of Freedom begins airing from eight to 11 on Sunday nights on the more powerful KJOJ, 103.3 FM and 880 AM.
If you tune in, you'll hear that the invasion has begun, that Russian military equipment has been spotted rolling into the country, that black United Nations helicopters are flying low. The word "federal," as it turns out, is a secret derivation of "feudal,'' which signifies the sort of government we live under. Among other things, our government is in the protection racket; in fact, an American was recently executed for not paying his protection money.
"This is the education people need," said Thorn. "What we have is a dumbed-down public."
"Sheeple," he calls the unenlightened.
His finer points may not have wide appeal, but Thorn hits hard on a broader populist theme: a government grown too big is infringing on our constitutional freedoms. Right away, the show was embraced by a great and growing anti-government movement. Thorn claims to have received sympathetic calls from people affiliated with the religious right, the Houston Property Rights Association, the Houston Taxpayers Coalition and with small, new groups with names like Citizens United for the People.