AAPB’s Engagement and Use Manager Speaks with WGBH about AAPB’s Fifth Anniversary

The American Archive Of Public Broadcasting Celebrates 5 Years Of Preserving Public Media

Interview by Ellen London, Digital Editor, Explore WGBH Digital

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AAPB’s Engagement and Use Manager, Ryn Marchese

WGBH and the Library of Congress are five years into their stewardship of the American Archive Of Public Broadcasting, which was instituted in 2013 to coordinate a national effort to identify, preserve and make accessible the historical record of publicly funded radio and television broadcast in the U.S. We sat down with Ryn Marchese, Engagement and Use Manager for the AAPB here at WGBH, to learn more.

How does the AAPB help stations around the country to preserve their programs?
Ryn: While the need for a public broadcasting archival initiative was recognized more than fifty years ago with the signing of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, efforts and funding to methodically implement a nationally coordinated program did not begin in earnest until the advent of the digital age in the 21st century.

In 2011, the Corporation of Public Broadcasting (CPB) funded 120 stations to inventory their collections. From this initiative, 2.5 million descriptive records were created. Subsequently, in 2012, CPB funded 100 of these stations to digitize what they determined was the most historically significant to preserve, and from this initiative, 40,000 hours of programming was digitized.

At this point, CPB selected WGBH and the Library of Congress as the permanent stewards of this collection, which became the beginnings of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. The LOC houses these broadcast treasures in its Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation, the state-of-the-art preservation facility in Culpeper, Virginia, that was once a high-security storage facility operated by the Federal Reserve. The same facility that once stored gold bars now preserves public media!

How is WGBH uniquely positioned to take on this role?
Ryn: As a public broadcaster, WGBH brings its knowledge of the public media system and an understanding of the core issues facing both television and radio stations to the table. Primarily responsible for access to the collection, metadata and systems/website management, as well as outreach and engagement, WGBH has long been positioned as a leader in the areas of media management, preservation and copyright issues.

Why is it important to preserve public radio and television programs?
Ryn: We need to preserve America’s public broadcasting legacy. As an outlet of communication produced for and by local communities, archival recordings document places, people, events, issues, opinions, perspectives, ideas, innovations, landscapes, etc. across both time and space. To see this importance in context, I invite audiences to visit AAPB’s Curated Exhibits, which includes a selection of radio and television recordings that focus on themes, topics, and events of cultural and historical significance such as climate change, protesting in America, civil rights, and the Watergate Hearings, now preserved and made accessible to the public, once again.

What’s the most notable or surprising piece of content you’ve come across in the archive?
Ryn: There are so many radio and television programs that stick with me. Some programs include travel to places I’ve never been, stories I never thought would be true, or characters worth listening to. A great sampling of this is in the AAPB Road Trip Special Collection. It highlights the breadth of the AAPB collection from sea to shining sea.

Mamie Till Mobley

However, one interview that has left a lasting impression is the raw interview of Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Till Mobley, from American Experiences The Murder of Emmett Till Interviews Special Collection. Imagine it. On-screen is Ms. Mobley, a woman I’d only seen in photographs or read about in history books. The camera focuses in on her face as she listens to the director off-screen. She takes their feedback seriously and begins retelling her story. It is in these exchanges, between the multiple takes, that I realize the magnitude and transparency of public media archives. Ms. Mobley is an example of an ordinary citizen who wasn’t trained in film production and didn’t ask to make history, but here she is, trying to be true to her story and relatable to unknown viewers.

In short, the AAPB has given me the opportunity to see ordinary people thoughtfully phrase their experience on-the-spot. Between all the production cues, infographics, and theme music, I appreciate public broadcasting’s ability to be curious, bring unique stories out of the ordinary day-to-day, and connect people.

What’s been your favorite year or decade, from the 1940s to the present, to preserve and why?
Ryn: Instead of offering a timeframe, I’d like to approach this question geographically. With the AAPB, we’ve preserved material from Guam PBS to WUSF in Tampa, FL, so I often find my favorite content based on location and what that local community thought was important to broadcast. For example, who knew a second-wave feminist talk show would come out of WNED in Buffalo, NY? Or the oldest radio programs are from Wisconsin, following the tradition of educational farm programs?

Whether it be raw interviews, educational programming, documentaries, a talk-show, magazine series, or news programs, they are all my favorite to preserve because they are all an invitation into a specific moment that was worth broadcasting.

Direct link to interview: https://www.wgbh.org/foundation/highlights-aapb-fifth-anniversary?utm_source=TWITTER&utm_medium=social&utm_term=20181113&utm_content=1894801942&utm_campaign=Archives

30th Anniversary of National Coming Out Day

National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is held annually on October 11th as a reminder of the 1978 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. The March aimed to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, and today marks the 30th anniversary of NCOD’s focus on the importance of coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ), or an ally.

As National Coming Out Day focuses on creating a world in which the LGBTQ community can live openly, below is a selection of public radio and television programs that have explored what ‘living openly’ has meant to both the straight and LGBTQ communities through the decades.

The Homosexual in Our Society (Parts 1 and 2) from Pacifica Radio Archives (1958)

Part 1 Direct Link: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_28-3n20c4st80

This recording from 1958 is an early example of overt discussions around homosexuality. It features interviews that discuss the conflict of the society versus the individual, whether the root of homosexuality is a product of biology or environment, “flamboyant individuals”, and elimination of effeminate gestures that distinguish homosexuals versus educating public that these mannerisms are not significant.

Part 2 Direct Link: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_28-tt4fn11944

In this portion of the program, the panelists discuss laws regarding homosexuals, civil rights of homosexuals, identification of homosexuals, gender identification in society, possible causes of sexual choice, i.e. heredity versus environmental causes, and how society can constructively deal with these issues.

Speeches from the Lesbian Feminist Dialogue Conference from New England Public Radio’s series World of Women (1972)

This recording includes selected proceedings from the Lesbian Feminist Dialogue Conference about the relationship of feminism and lesbianism, and the tensions between straight and lesbian feminists.

Direct Link: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_305-7634tvnx

Female Homosexuality from WNED’s Woman Series (1974)

This episode features a conversation with Barbara Love, co-author with Sydney Abbott of “Sappho was a Right on Woman: A Liberated View of Lesbianism.” At the time of this episode, Love served on the Board of Directors of the National Gay Task Force, on the faculty of the Psychology Department of The New School for Social Research, and a member of the Advisory Board of New York N.O.W.

Direct link: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_81-02q57484

Transexuality and Sports from The MacNeil/Lehrer Report (1976)Screen Shot 2018-10-11 at 6.53.58 PM.png

This episode features a discussion on transexuality and sports with guests such as Dr. Renee Richards, Dorothy Harris, Charles Ihlenfeld, Roberto Granato.

Direct Link: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_507-cc0tq5s22t

Homosexual Rights; Gay Rights from The MacNeil/Lehrer Report (1977)

This episode follows a vote that would soon take place in Dade County, Miami to repeal or leave as it is an ordinance banning discrimination against homosexuals in housing, employment and public accommodations.

Direct Link: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_507-qn5z60ct7w

Lesbe Friends from Pacifica Radio Archives’ The Lesbian Underground Episode (ca. 1978)

In this episode, the discussion focuses on the ‘lesbian underground’, or what it was like to be a lesbian before the feminist and gay liberation movement. Guests include the then Commissioner of the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women, Commissioner for the Human Rights Commission in San Francisco, and a comedian. Lesbe Friends was introduced on KPFA in 1978 as a new program produced by the Lesbian Task Force of the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women. It was broadcast on second and fourth Mondays of the month at noon.

Direct Link: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_28-zp3vt1h719

Gay Show: A Look at Gay Fathers from WYSO (1979)

This episode explores what it’s like parenting as a Gay father.

Direct Link: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_27-76f1vrdr

National March on Gay Rights from The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour (1993)

Torie Osborn, the Executive Director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force discusses the (then) most recent march on Washington for gay and lesbian rights; calling for an end to the ban on homosexuals in the military and increased funding for AIDS research.

Direct Link: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_507-x34mk66501

The Other Side of the Closet: the Coming Out Crisis for the Straight Spouses and Families from WILL Public Radio’s Focus Program (2004)

Amity Pierce Buxton, Ph.D., then Director of Straight Spouse Network, dicusses some persective of straight spouses and families after other LGBTQ family members come out.

Direct Link: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_16-pv6b27q87n

Homeless LGBTQ Youth: Cause & Effect from Hoover Institution Library & Archives (2010)

This forum speaks with LGBTQ youth and specalists in LGBTQ youth programming about the circumstances surrounding the loss of home and family after coming out.

Direct Link: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_514-0z70v8b72k

Martha Nussbaum: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law at the Harvard Book Store by the WGBH Forum Network (2010)

In this lecture, professor of law and philosophy, Martha Nussbaum, discusses the status of gay rights in the context of constitutional law and her (then) new book. Nussbaum argues that ‘disgust’ has long been among the fundamental motivations of those who are fighting for legal discrimination against lesbian and gay citizens, and believes that the politics of disgust must be confronted directly, for it contradicts the basic principle of the equality of all citizens under the law.

Direct Link: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-g73707wv3s

The Gay Response from Wisconsin Public TelevisionScreen Shot 2018-10-11 at 7.24.35 PM.png

This show explores some of the responses of the gay community to discrimination, and speaks with members of the community about their coming out story.

Direct Link: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_29-150gb892

Teaching Sex Ed and Homosexuality from NewsNight Minnesota (1996)

This episode explores how Minnesotan teachers are approcahing LGBTQ sexual education.

Direct Link: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_77-27mph5n4

Written by Ryn Marchese, AAPB Engagement and Use Manager

 

 

 

Eric Saxon, Public Broadcasting Fellow at KOPN

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KOPN’s transmitter, located east of Columbia, MO

Greetings gentle reader, I’m Eric Saxon, a Masters of Information and Library Science student specializing in archives at the University of Missouri – Columbia, and part of the second cohort of the Public Broadcasting Preservation Fellowship (PBPF). This summer, I embarked on a deep tape diving expedition at the radio station, KOPN.

KOPN 89.5 FM, community radio from Columbia, Missouri, broadcasts to antennas throughout the central part of the state and via online at kopn.org. KOPN has transmitted information and music since 1973 AD. As part of the PBPF mission to record local histories across the nation, I set out to discover Columbia and KOPN as it existed in the first twenty or so years of the station, through a media format heretofore unfamiliar to me, the ¼ in. audio tape reel.

The idea was to give these audio reels new life through digital preservation, and, subsequently, new access points to the history of community radio in Columbia, MO in the era of the ¼ in. magnetic tape.

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A ¼ in. magnetic audio tape reel

What I ended up recording is only a small piece of this history, but the audible trace there tells a story of a community radio station being born out of the progressive ethos of the 1960s, open to and actively exploring all available ideas during the 1970s, and incompletely mutating into new wave ideals of the 1980s. During the era of the magnetic tape, KOPN filled a void in mid-Missouri left by mainstream broadcast radio and television, serving across an intersection of race, class, gender, style, sexuality, attitude, and musical preference.

The collection is particularly strong in broadcasts that represent feminist discourse and practice of the time, and my predecessor (Rebecca Benson, PBPF Spring 2018 Fellow) had already begun work that focused on feminist community radio. Having inherited her excellent start to the project, I built upon the theme and expanded it to include live music broadcasts and a wide range of programming, all under the umbrella of feminist community radio.

To convey an idea of this breadth, some titles of the audio broadcasts I digitized include Betty Friedan in Columbia (1973); Don Cooper Live at KOPN (1973); Consciousness Across the Void (1973); Angela Davis in Columbia (1974); Political Gayness (1974); National Women’s Music Festival (1975); The End of “Alternative Radio” on WGTB (1976); Off Our Backs (1976); The Fabulish Winotones Live (1977); Numerology (1978); The Booty Band: Demo Tape (1978); Reasonably Polite New Wave (1981); Program on Lesbian Separatism (1981); DuChamp Live at the Blue Note (1981); Bella Azbug at MU (1984); Gloria Kaufman, “The Politics of Humor: A Feminist View” (1992);  City Council Meetings; and discussions by the Women’s Health Collective.

I transferred only a few reels from the 1990s to a digital format, and none from the 2000s. (By that time, the station had switched to digital machines.) However, a quick listen to KOPN today will tell you that the community values and open radio format there in the beginning continue to be the guiding forces of the station.

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Kansas City new wave band, DuChamp. Handmade collage on tape reel box.

The digitization process not only transferred content but also often recorded the unique physical characteristics of the tape and its interaction with the reel-to-reel tape machines, which, in the University of Missouri – Columbia KOPN Digitization Station’s case, are the Studer A807 (mono) and the Studer B67 (stereo). These were hooked up to a PC and a Mac desktop computer, respectively, where both utilized the audio editing software, Audacity. I could have removed some tape hiss, a sizzle of magnetic particles here and there, and other imperfections, but I left in all but the most egregious content obfuscators, not only to digitize as much as possible in the time allotted, but also as an aesthetic choice and to preserve the unique qualities of the tape medium itself.

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The Studer A807

Emancipating the tape reels from their media-specific obscurity required multiple other steps, with some reels needing more TLC and resuscitation than others. After vigilant cleaning of the machines between reels, this process might entail repairing splices that popped off during the recording process, adding leader tape to the heads and tails of reels, re-housing tapes with broken parts, periodic demagnetizing of the tape machines, untangling and re-spooling tape that had become curled and twisted, and baking/dehydrating tapes exhibiting “sticky-shed syndrome” where deteriorating binder material becomes unfixed in the tape path and gums up the machine’s moving parts. In addition to the more physical aspects of the project, there was also record creation for each reel, inventory production, metadata researched and added, checksum generation, audio file conversion, and ingest into the mothership servers at WGBH.

Although I worked independently, at every stage I had a network of experts and mentors to turn to when encountering an obstacle, from the immersion week of audiovisual preservation training in Boston to the final handoff of the files. Thanks go out to the amazing folks at WGBH and all involved in immersion week, including George Blood and Jackie Jay for introducing me to legacy A/V equipment, all my fellow Fellows, host mentor Jackie Casteel and everyone at KOPN, faculty mentor Dr. Sarah Buchanan and the scholars at MU’s Allen Institute, local mentor Jim Hone, and every one else involved in this far-reaching project.

Going forward, I’m excited to bring forth more untold and seldom heard stories from their various limbos, utilizing what I learned as a PBPF fellow to help make a more complete historical record that is inclusive of the entire spectrum of human experience.

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Minimal audio preservation setup: computer, reel-to-reel tape machine, human

Written by Eric Saxon, PBPF Summer 2018 Cohort

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About PBPF

The Public Broadcasting Preservation Fellowship (PBPF), funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, supports ten graduate student fellows at University of North Carolina, San Jose State University, Clayton State University, University of Missouri, and University of Oklahoma in digitizing at-risk materials at public media organizations around the country. Host sites include the Center for Asian American Media, Georgia Public Broadcasting, WUNC, the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority, and KOPN Community Radio. Contents digitized by the fellows will be preserved in the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. The grant also supports participating universities in developing long-term programs around audiovisual preservation and ongoing partnerships with their local public media stations.

For more updates on the Public Broadcasting Preservation Fellowship project, follow the project at pbpf.americanarchive.org and on Twitter at #aapbpf, and come back in a few months to check out the results of their work.

 

World Teachers’ Day 2018

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World Teachers’ Day is held annually on October 5th to commemorate the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. This Recommendation sets benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers and standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, and teaching and learning conditions.

As World Teachers’ Day aims to focus on appreciating, evaluating, and improving the educators of the world, public broadcasting has brought these concerns to the public for further consideration. Here is a brief selection of clips to recognize the ambition of teachers, as well as public broadcasting’s programming as a primary and secondary resource.

Educational Programs Available Online

National Educational Television Special Collection (1952-1972)

net_catalog.jpgThe National Educational Television (NET) Collection consists of more than 10,000 television programs from non-commercial TV stations and producers from 1952-1972 on public affairs, social issues, arts, culture, the humanities, science, and education. The collection includes public affairs documentaries and discussions covering the black freedom struggle, the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and issues such as poverty, student activism, radicalism, privacy, the environment, the elderly, and welfare. The programs in this collection were created for television broadcast, as well as classroom and adult educational uses.

Search the collection: http://americanarchive.org/special_collections/net-catalog

School Desegregation from WGBH’s Say Brother Series (1974)

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This program focuses on school desegregation and the quality of education in Boston 1974. Discussion includes students, parents, and community activists held within Jeremiah E. Burke High School. First program of the 1974 season.

Direct link: http://americanarchive.org/catalog?q=cpb-aacip%2F15-9gq6r236&utf8=%E2%9C%93&f%5Baccess_types%5D%5B%5D=online

Sex Bias in Education from WNED’s Women Series (1974)

 

 

This episode features a conversation with Judy Wenning and Phyllis AlRoy. Wenning was the former President of NY N.O.W and Coordinator of National NOW Women and Sports Task Force. She was a teacher and worked as a feminist therapist at NY City College and in private practice. AlRoy was a member of “Women on Words and Images,” a feminist consulting firm in Princeton, New Jersey, and is the co-author of “Dick and Jane As Victims.”

Direct Link: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_81-37hqc39r

Denver Public School Prime Time Project from Rocky Mountain PBS (1981)

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This show is from a weekly series to create public awareness of the educational opportunities in the Denver Public Schools and to encourage the cooperative efforts of home and community to achieve excellence in education.

Direct link: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_52-91fj7068

Front Street Weekly: Public vs Private Schooling from Oregon Public Broadcasting (1984)

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In the choice between private and public, this episode focuses on why Oregon parents are choosing private over public school for their children in 1984.

Direct link: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_153-07gqnmcc

Arkansas School for the Deaf from Arkansas Educational TV Network (1994)

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This documentary describes the courses and programs at the Arkansas School for the Deaf. The documentary is composed of interviews with school administrators and teachers, along with footage and photographs of students in classrooms, around campus, and at special events. Transcript included!

Direct link: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_111-4298sn90

Primary and Secondary Resources in the Archive

The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) contains more than 50,000 items of digitized public broadcasting programs and original materials. Over 35,000 items of these programs are available online and the importance of these news casts, raw interviews, documentaries, radio shows etc. serve as primary and secondary sources to American history, both on the local and national level.

Below is AAPB’s Informational Flyer available for download. This flyer gives an overview of the AAPB, its collection, and accessibility to students and teachers.

With over 35,000 items of public radio and television programs from 120 particiation stations, AAPB’s collection captures historical moments across chronological and geographic spectrums. The AAPB staff and guest researchers have curated Exhibits that include coverage of the Watergate hearing, civil rights movements, climate change, and more!

The AAPB has also organized Special Collections that highlight valuable series within collections. These include raw interviews from Eyes on the Prize, Ken Burns’ Civil War Series, and American Expereience documentaries. Often times, only minutes of these interviews make it into the final cut of programs. On the AAPB, the public has access to interviews from start to finish. For example, from the Eyes on the Prize Special Collection, the public can watch Rosa Parks give her account of history between the production crew’s cues and director’s coaching off-screen.

We hope you enjoy and can make use of these resources!

AAPB Informational Flyer

The AAPB Informational Flyer is available for download and contains an overview of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, its collection, and accessibility in the classroom. Feel free to share with students, teachers, and colleagues!

Download here: AAPB_Informational_Flyer.pdf

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Curated Exhibits

American Archive of Public Broadcasting staff and guest curators have created exhibits of selected recordings that focus on themes, topics, and events of cultural and historical significance. In these exhibits, curators contextualize digitized primary and secondary source public television and radio materials. Each curated set of selected recordings present a diversity of perspectives concerning the exhibit’s focus. As a result, AAPB exhibits often illuminate how public broadcasting stations and producers have covered the exhibit’s theme.

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Special Collections

Some notable collections are featured here in Special Collections. Each Special Collection finding aid provides detailed information about the content, such as its creator, recommended search strategies, and related resources. These are unedited interviews from programs that often only include minutes of the original interviews.

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Written by Ryn Marchese, AAPB Engagement and Use Manager

PBPF Handbooks

As part of the Public Broadcasting Preservation Fellowship (PBPF), check out the Fellows’ completed handbooks!

The Public Broadcasting Preservation Fellowship (PBPF), funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, supports students enrolled in non-specialized graduate programs to pursue digital preservation projects at public broadcasting organizations around the country. The Fellowship is designed to provide graduate students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experiences in the practices of audiovisual preservation; address the need for digitization of at-risk public media materials in underserved areas; and increase audiovisual preservation education capacity in Library and Information Science graduate programs around the country.

WGBH has developed partnerships with LIS and Archival Science graduate programs at five universities: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Missouri, University of Oklahoma, Clayton State University, and San Jose State University. Each school is paired with a local public media station to host the Fellows: WUNC, KOPN, the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and the Center for Asian-American Media in partnership with the Bay Area Video Coalition.

To create the handbook, Spring Fellows wrote out a draft of their process for inventorying, digitizing, and cataloging a small collection of audiovisual media; generating technical and preservation metadata; and processing the digital files for ingest into the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. The draft was then developed into a fuller handbook format by the Summer Fellows, who tested the functionality and validity of the process used by the Spring Fellows and modified the handbook accordingly.

The handbook is thus the combined work of the Spring and Summer Fellows. Each handbook details the Fellows’ operational process in a step-by-step manner, includes images of what their procedure looked like, and provides useful tips on what does and does not work on their particular computer and station configurations. Through this vetting process, the handbook has been developed into a tool that can be used by future students when they undertake digitization projects on the equipment, and can be used as sample documentation for other schools thinking about setting up AV digitization training stations.

Download the handbooks here:

Center_for_Asian_American_Media_Handbook

Georgia_Public_Broadcasting_Handbook

KOPN_Missouri_Community_Radio_Handbook

Oklahoma_Educational_Television_Authority_Handbook

WUNC_North_Carolina_Public_Radio_Handbook

For more updates on the Public Broadcasting Preservation Fellowship project, follow the project at pbpf.americanarchive.org and on Twitter at #aapbpf.

Steve Wilcer, Public Broadcasting Preservation Fellow at WUNC

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I was thrilled to experience the myriads of different programs from WUNC over the years and be able to directly contribute to their preservation for the future.

Hello! My name is Steve Wilcer. I coordinated with WGBH and WUNC Radio in Chapel Hill, North Carolina as a member of the second cohort of fellows for the AAPB Public Broadcast Preservation Fellowship. I am currently working towards a Master of Science in Library Science at the University of North Carolina and plan to graduate next spring. Prior to my time in North Carolina, I studied musicology at the Ohio State University and was exposed to a wide variety of media formats and materials, ranging from microfiche to medieval manuscripts. I developed a strong passion for libraries and archives through these experiences, which led me to pursue a second master’s degree in library science.

Learning as I work

As someone who just entered North Carolina last fall, my work with WUNC Radio offered me a unique opportunity to learn about the area and its people. Public radio provides a versatile platform for education, entertainment, and awareness programming. I was thrilled to experience the myriads of different programs from WUNC over the years and be able to directly contribute to their preservation for the future. During my portion of the fellowship, I was able to digitize approximately forty assets, with most of them being digital audio tapes. I also continued to develop the cataloging and documentation for WUNC, allowing me to experience the digitization and preservation process from a more holistic standpoint.

One particularly informative component of the fellowship for me was the North Carolina Voices special collection: This collection contains materials from two of WUNC’s special program series: Understanding Poverty and Civil War. Understanding Poverty offered a wide assortment of programs and features on various financial and social issues in the state, as well as how North Carolina has developed over the last several decades. The Civil War series contained family stories of ancestors that lived during or served in the United States Civil War. Both series provided me a valuable, more tangible insight into the people of Chapel Hill and North Carolina as I listened to their stories and firsthand experiences. I also had the artistic opportunity to design our thumbnail image for the special collection as it appears on the AAPB.

Building up foundations

Being the second UNC fellow for the project, I was fortunate that our digitization station was already set up and operational. Getting the station to work was a significant challenge for the first round of the fellowship, but fortunately, the station operated without any issues for me, thanks to all the hard work from everyone involved. One of my duties in the project was to build upon the records for the digitized materials and ensure that WUNC’s personal records were uniform and easy to understand. I frequently consulted with WUNC’s Keith Weston to confirm dates, names, and programming details. In some cases, newly rediscovered items forced us to reevaluate how we defined a particular series or piece of programming, and I would edit our records as necessary.

UNC SILS Digitization station

While the fellowship focuses on digitization, cataloging the physical DATs and cassettes I handled proved to be equally important. Without proper labeling and documentation, a given asset could be unknowingly re-recorded and cost extra time. In addition to our digital master table of records, I was responsible for labeling the physical objects and their cases with the newly-determined local identifiers for WUNC. With these markings, the cases can be quickly scanned for items that are yet to be digitized, which will make future digitization projects easier for WUNC.

I developed a strong personal connection to these items as I cataloged and marked them. Each DAT and cassette had a story to tell, and it was up to me to piece together their metadata and see that they were digitized and made publicly accessible so others could listen to them. Being one of the first North Carolina-based organizations to be included in the AAPB was very exciting for me, as our work here was not only a foundation for WUNC and its archives, but for North Carolina as a state, as well. Materials like the WUNC 1953 sign-on event reminded me how long ago some of these recordings were made, and how many more there may still be at WUNC, waiting to be digitized and heard once more.

Overall, the fellowship has been a wonderful opportunity for me. It allowed me to not only develop my abilities handling audio materials and digital records, but also provide me a way to learn about the area and its people and history. I am incredibly grateful for all the support and effort from everyone that allowed this project to be realized: my advisor, Dr. Helen Tibbo, Erica Titkemeyer from the Southern Folklife collection for her technical assistance, Dena Schultz, our first fellow for the project, Keith Weston at WUNC, and all the staff at WGBH for their supervision, planning, and feedback.

Written by Steve Wilcer, PBPF Summer 2018 Cohort

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About PBPF

The Public Broadcasting Preservation Fellowship (PBPF), funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, supports ten graduate student fellows at University of North Carolina, San Jose State University, Clayton State University, University of Missouri, and University of Oklahoma in digitizing at-risk materials at public media organizations around the country. Host sites include the Center for Asian American Media, Georgia Public Broadcasting, WUNC, the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority, and KOPN Community Radio. Contents digitized by the fellows will be preserved in the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. The grant also supports participating universities in developing long-term programs around audiovisual preservation and ongoing partnerships with their local public media stations.

For more updates on the Public Broadcasting Preservation Fellowship project, follow the project at pbpf.americanarchive.org and on Twitter at #aapbpf, and come back in a few months to check out the results of their work.

 

National Voter Registration Day

National Voter Registration Day, first observed in 2012, is a national holiday celebrating our democracy and serves as a reminder for citizens to register to vote. The act of registering to vote has sparked discussions across generations and political affiliations, as well as engaged movements for civil and human rights. Below is a selection of public radio and television programs in the American Archive of Public Broadcasting that document the sentiments of and historical contexts around the right to vote, or in some cases, the choice not to. These episodes may contain language which is no longer generally considered politically or socially appropriate.

1946

‘Voters Week Registration’ from WNYC

This recording documents an event at New York’s City Hall sponsored by the Independent Citizens Committee of the Arts and Sciences and Professions. Speakers encourage Voters Registration Week (Monday, Oct. 7 – Saturday, Oct. 12, 1946).

Speakers include Deputy Mayor Thomas J. Corcoran, speaking on behalf of Mayor O’Dwyer, and Broadway actors Gordon Heath and Adele Jerome. Followed a parade of Broadway actors. Followed by short announcement encouraging women to vote.

Listen: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_80-76f1w6kq

1949

‘Childrens Roundtable: Voting Rights and Responsibilities’ from WNYC

This radio recording features a panel discussion with young people on topics like voting obligation, voting age, ways that individuals can grow their knowledge (books, people, school), responsibilities of young citizens, and choosing the best citizens in their schools.

Listen: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_80-95j9m626

1975

‘Suffragist Florence H. Luscomb’ from WNED

This episode features a conversation with Florence Hope Luscomb, an American architect and woman suffrage activist in Massachusetts. She dedicated herself fully to activism in the women’s suffrage movement and talks about the conditions women faced that led to the historic Seneca Falls Convention in 1850 to discuss women’s rights, as well as the voting rights of women in the Wyoming territory.

 

Watch: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_81-09j3tzx6

1977

‘Universal Voter Registration’ from The MacNeil/Lehrer Report

This episode features a discussion on universal voter registration, the pros and cons as well as its political chances for survival. The guests are Richard Moe, Bill Frenzel, Marie Garber, Thomas Roeser.

From the transcript:

JIM LEHRER: … Candidate Jimmy Carter told the Democratic National Convention last July it’s time for universal voter registration. But now, nearly a year later, President Carte’s plan to accomplish it has run into problems. There was supposed to have been a vote in Congress this week on an administration proposal to allow people to register at the polling place on Election Day. But there will be no vote this week; it was postponed a few weeks because the proposal, thought to be in good shape with the support of the Democratic majority as well as some bipartisan support from the Republicans, is in trouble. Local election officials, Southern Democrats, Republicans and others have come down hard on the idea, claiming that it will be impossible to administer and will encourage vote fraud among other things.

Tonight, a look at that Election Day idea, the pros and the cons as well as its political chances for survival, first with one of the key architects of the Carter proposal, Richard Moe, Chief of Staff to Vice President Walter Mondale. The administration plan is patterned after a system used in the State of Minnesota, the home state of both Vice President Mondale and Mr. Moe. Mr. Moe in fact was the State Democratic Chairman there before joining the Mondale staff. Mr. Moe, what would this new system accomplish?

Watch: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_507-cc0tq5s206

1980

‘The Non-Voters’ from The MacNeil/Lehrer Report

The main topic of this episode is the Non-Voters. The guests are John Judis, Curtis Gans. Byline: Jim Lehrer, Charlayne Hunter-Gault.

From the transcript:

MacNEIL: Good evening. As Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan continue to slug away at each other, off in quiet rooms away from the noise and stink of the campaign, politicians are worried about getting Americans out to vote for anyone. In every election since 1960, although a larger number of Americans has voted, the percentage of those eligible doing so has declined. When Kennedy defeated Nixon in 1960, 62.8 percent of the electorate cast ballots. When Carter beat Ford in 1976, only 54.4 percent bothered to vote. In this year of rampant disenchantment with the candidates, voter turnout may reach a new low. Tonight, the Americans who will not vote and why.

Watch: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_507-j678s4kd00

 

1981

‘Voting Rights on Trial’ from The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour

The main topic of this episode is Voting Rights on Trial. The guests are Henry Hyde, Don Edwards, Robert Brinson.

From the transcript:

MacNEIL: The curtain went up this week on what will probably be the hottest and most important civil rights issue facing this Congress. For the past two days, a House judiciary subcommittee has held hearings on whether to extend the 1965 voting rights act. The act was intended to end discrimination against blacks seeking to vote in the South. Among other things, it permanently forbids poll taxes and the use of literacy tests nationwide. It was extended later to protect Hispanics and other non- English-speaking minorities. Although key provisions of the act don’t expire until next year, bills have already been introduced to extend or amend it. Critics say it’s no longer needed, and represents unwarranted federal intrustion into local affairs. Supporters say it is still needed, and that failure to extend it will end the progress minorities have made. Tonight, the opening round in the voting rights battle of 1981. Charlayne Hunter-Gauh is in Washington.

 

Watch: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_507-7s7hq3sh1v

1992

‘Black Vote’ from WHUT

This episode of Evening Exchange features a conversation on the impact of the black vote nationally and locally in the 1992 election. Topics covered include voter registration, the increase in voters who are black, electing black leaders, and how candidates seek or don’t seek support from black voters.

Watch: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_293-21tdz2qh

2004

‘Hispanic Voter Project’ from WILL Illinois Public Media

This episode of Focus interviews Adam Segal of the Hispanic Voter Project Director, Washington Center for the Study of American Government at Johns Hopkins University.

Listen: http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_16-9k45q4s026

 

Curated by Ryn Marchese, AAPB Engagement and Use Manager

Mississippi Legends and Luminaries

The collection of programs and interviews contributed to the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) by Mississippi Public Broadcasting holds special meaning to me. Having grown up in the small town of Monticello, Mississippi, many of the people, places and events recorded in programs like Conversations and Mississippi Roads endure as some of the legends of my lifetime. The geographic breadth of the content preserved in the AAPB offers almost anyone an opportunity to watch, listen and explore the history of their community, of their legends, and of their own past.

Allow me to introduce you to some of our Mississippi legends and luminaries, preserved and made available in the AAPB.

Eudora Welty
Born in Jackson, MS in 1909, Eudora Welty was a short story writer and novelist. Beginning her work in 1933 for the Works Progress Administration, her first short story “Death of a Traveling Salesman” was published in 1936. Her 1972 book The Optimist’s Daughter garnered a Pulitzer Prize.  Watch two 30 minute interviews with Eudora Welty in this episode of Conversations (1971)  and in Postscripts (1984).

 

Richard Wright
Richard Wright, born in Roxie, Mississippi — just outside of Natchez — in 1908, was an author of novels and short stories often concerning the plight of African Americans in Mississippi. Among his works are his memoir, Black Boy, and A Native Son. Watch this conversation between poet Margaret Walker and other scholars about Richard Wright in Climate for Genius; A Native Son.

John Grisham
Best known for his legal mysteries and thriller novels, John Grisham was born in 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas and moved to Southaven, Mississippi at the age of four. Some of his bestsellers include his first book, A Time to Kill, as well as A Painted House, The Client, A Pelican Brief, The Rainmaker, and The Runaway Jury, all of which have been adapted into films. Watch this conversation with John Grisham from 1995.

Willie Morris
Willie Morris is my favorite of the Mississippi writers. After growing up in Yazoo City, he moved to New York and became the youngest editor of Harper’s Magazine. He later wrote his seminal autobiography, North Toward Home. Other works include My Dog Skip, which was adapted into a feature film, Good Old Boy: A Delta Boyhood, New York Days, Ghosts of Medgar Evers, and Taps, among others. The AAPB has preserved three interviews with Willie Morris. The first was recorded in 1971, soon after he left Harper’s Magazine. Another was recorded in 1997  and was included in a tribute program to Willie Morris shortly after his death in 1999. Lastly, MPB recorded an interview with Willie Morris during the filming of My Dog Skip, shortly before his passing. The film premiered in 2000.

 

Marshall Ramsey
Marshall Ramsey is an editorial cartoonist best known to Mississippians for his works appearing in the statewide newspaper The Clarion Ledger. His cartoons have also been nationally syndicated and have appeared in The New York Times and USA Today. He’s also an author, short story writer, radio personality and television host. Learn more about Ramsey’s artwork in this episode segment of Mississippi Roads.

james_meredith
I had the opportunity to meet James Meredith at a diner in Jackson, MS in 2013.

James Meredith
James Meredith was born in 1933 in Kosciusko, Mississippi and is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, a figure of the Civil Rights Movement, writer and political advisor. In 1962 he became the first African American student admitted to the University of Mississippi, or Ole Miss. When he returned to Mississippi in 1960 after his service in the military, he initiated his plan to “break the system of white supremacy in Mississippi” by exercising his constitutional right to apply to the University, thereby putting pressure on the Kennedy administration to enforce civil rights. Watch this interview with James Meredith, recorded in 2002 — forty years after he integrated Ole Miss.

 

William Winter
William Winter, born in 1923 in Grenada, MS, served as the 58th Governor of Mississippi from 1980 to 1984. He is known for his strong support of public education, freedom of information, racial reconciliation, and historic preservation. Winter is best remembered for the passage of the Mississippi Education Reform Act, which sought to improve state education and also established public kindergartens. The AAPB includes two interviews with William Winter, one regarding race relations (1998) and another regarding public education (2002).

Mac McAnally
Singer/songwriter and record producer Mac McAnally also makes my list of Mississippi luminaries and legends. Born in Red Bay, Alabama, Mac McAnally spent much of his life in Belmont, Mississippi before becoming a session musician in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Some of my favorite of his singles include “It’s a Crazy World,” “Back Where I come From,” and “Down the Road,” the latter two both made famous by Kenny Chesney. In 2007 he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and has received nine Country Music Association awards for Musician of the Year. Watch this interview with Mac McAnally on Mississippi Roads (for which he also sings the opening theme of the series).

I could go on with other examples of places and people documented in these MPB recordings that I remember as a Mississippian. Instead, here’s a challenge for you: search the archive at americanarchive.org to find your own local legends and memories documented in the programs. You can narrow your search to a station in your state, or search the records of everything from your state. What do you find? I invite you to share them in the comments of this post or on social media. Remember to tag us at @amarchivepub on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!