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.

 

Evelyn Cox, Public Broadcasting Preservation Fellow at OETA

Oklahoma Legacy: Indelible Impressions of Perseverance, Fortitude, Resilience and Pride

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Storm Chaser Footage of a Tornado in Newcastle, Oklahoma headed towards the Newcastle High School.

Greetings from the lovely state of Oklahoma. My name is Evelyn Cox and I am the Public Broadcasting Preservation fellow partnered with Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA). I represent the Spring 2018 Cohort from the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Oklahoma and have been blessed to work with outstanding mentors and advisors throughout this fellowship, collaborating with my host station mentor and Vice President of Operations, Janette Thornbrue and the talented staff at OETA; my local mentor and Political Commercial Archivist at the University of Oklahoma, Lisa Henry; and my faculty advisor and Director of the School of Library and Information Studies at OU, Dr. Susan Burke. It has been my honor to explore and select for preservation from the treasure trove of audiovisual content within the OETA Archives housed on both analog and digital tapes dating back to the 1970s.

About OETA’s Collection

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Oklahoma City Murrah Bombing Memorial. The chairs represent lives taken.

Previously identified as Native American territory prior to statehood, Oklahoma Educational Television Authority’s collection is a glimpse into the past, covering topics and exploring issues that are relevant to the diverse cultures represented, both then and now. Issues such as racial diversity, terrorism, natural disasters, war, and poverty become the catalyst for unity and the impetus for exploration, growth, and acceptance. This collection is an eclectic mix of at-risk public media material from the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA) Archive with contributions from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Archive. At the heart of this collection, are the people. The resilient men and women who have both contributed to the legacy of Oklahoma as well as the mosaic of our great nation in the area of art, music, science, exploration, politics, religion, architecture, literature, language, etc. Oklahoma Legacy is a culmination of indelible impressions of perseverance, fortitude, resilience and pride.

Exploring the Legacy of Oklahoma

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Elizabeth Smith (right) and Margaret Anne Hamilton of Enid, OK (left) are WASPs that were given Congressional Medals for service During WWII.

As I combed through the OETA Archive, I felt giddy with excitement. Oklahoma has so much rich, culturally significant and diverse history that many people do not have access to. I could not believe that because of the PBPF fellowship, I would have the opportunity to select material that would be accessible online at American Archive of Public Broadcasting’s website and preserved at the Library of Congress. What an honor. I was like a kid in a candy store, eagerly anticipating the chance to break out the audiovisual equipment and get reacquainted with the treasures of our past. I found information about Amelia Earhart and the Woman Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS) of Oklahoma who bravely contributed during World War II. People like Betty Riddle of Tulsa, Oklahoma are our very own Wonder Women. Talk about girl power.  There was information about Clara Luper, known in Oklahoma as the mother of the sit-in and a pioneering leader during the American Civil Rights Movement. She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I found information about “Pistol Pete” Eaton and black and white footage of the Land Run of 1889, as well as Quanah Parker the great Comanche leader. I was just scratching the surface! Thanks to the American Archive of Public Broadcasting @amarchivepub a collaboration between the Library of Congress and WGBH this will be available to people throughout the United States from a centralized web portal at online at americanarchive.org.

Digitizing the At-Risk Material: Collaboration is the Key to Success

I was chomping at the bit and excited to exercise what I learned during Immersion Week hosted at WGBH Education Foundation in Boston. Like any worthwhile venture, I had setbacks of my own to overcome; but if I learned anything from the material selected for this collection, I learned that adversity is just a temporary setback that can be endured with perseverance. I counted my setbacks as badges of honor, which were many. We experienced setbacks regarding copyright issues. We had equipment issues right out of the gate. We had a BetacamSP deck that worked for two seconds. We had issues getting the older technology to play nicely with the new technology. I had so much support and help from my Academic Advisor here at the University of Oklahoma School of Library and Information Studied as well as from the staff in our SLIS office, my local mentor Lisa Henry and OU technical support Gary Bates, all of whom devoted countless hours trying to get our equipment up and running.

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School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Oklahoma’s Digitizing Station with a BetacamSP and DVCPro decks.

I also had great support from Janette Thornbrue at OETA. I can’t say enough about how wonderful everyone has been through this entire process. The collaboration between AAPB, WGBH, OETA, and the University of Oklahoma models the kind of collaboration needed to effectively provide access to training in audiovisual preservation, allowing for a pool of resources and support to future archivists on a local as well as national level. I feel so blessed to be part of such a wonderful program!

From left to right: OETA Host Station Mentor Janette Thornbrue, Director of SLIS and Project Advisor Dr. Susan Burke; Political Commercial Archivist and Local Mentor Lisa Henry; Public Broadcasting Preservation Fellow Spring 2018, Evelyn Cox

Written by Evelyn Cox, PBPF Spring 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.

 

Digitization Grant Opportunity from Council on Library and Information Resources!

CLIR Recordings at Risk – Fourth Round Opens May 2nd 

Collaborate with American Archive of Public Broadcasting on
Digitization Grant Proposal

Now in its fourth call for the Recordings at Risk grant program, the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) is accepting applications from collecting institutions for the digital reformatting of audio and audiovisual materials. Generously funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Recordings at Risk is focused on digitizing “at-risk” audio and audiovisual materials of high scholarly value.

For this call, CLIR will award grants of between $10,000 and $50,000 for digital reformatting projects between 3 and 12 months carried out between June 2018 and April 2019.

DEADLINE:  June 29th, 11:59 pm (EDT). Recipients announced September 28th.

ELIGIBLE ACTIVITIES: All audio and audiovisual formats are eligible, though applicants must partner with a qualified external service provider that can perform technically competent and cost-effective digital reformatting for the nominated format(s).

INTERESTED IN WORKING WITH AAPB on a CLIR/Recordings at Risk Preservation project? Our team could provide your project with a letter of support, provide guidance on project planning, and provide feedback on your proposal. Contact Ryn Marchese, Engagement and Use Manager, ryn_marchese (at) wgbh (dot) org. 

FREE WEBINAR: CLIR will hold an informational webinar for prospective applicants on Wednesday, May 16 at 2:00 pm EDT. Please follow this link for more information: https://www.clir.org/recordings-at-risk/applicant-resources.

COMPLETE INFORMATION AND GUIDELINES HERE:  https://www.clir.org/recordings-at-risk/

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About AAPB

The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) is a collaboration between the Library of Congress and the WGBH Educational Foundation to coordinate a national effort to preserve at-risk public media before its content is lost to posterity and provide a central web portal for access to the unique programming that public stations have aired over the past 70 years. To date, over 50,000 hours of television and radio programming contributed by more than 100 public media organizations and archives across the United States have been digitized for long-term preservation and access. The entire collection is available on location at WGBH and the Library of Congress, and over 31,000 programs are available online at americanarchive.org.

The National Association of Educational Broadcasters (NAEB) Collection Now Available on AAPB

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The National Association of Educational Broadcasters (NAEB) Collection, now available on the AAPB website, consists of more than 5,500 radio programs from the 1950s and 1960s, created by over 100 NAEB member stations. The collection includes radio documentaries, coverage of events (hearings, meetings, conferences, and seminars), interviews, debates, and lectures on public affairs topics such as civil rights, foreign affairs, health, politics, education, and broadcasting.

These broadcasts, mostly stemming from university and public school-run radio stations, provide an in-depth look at the engagements and events of American history, as they were broadcast to and received by the general public in the twentieth century. Interview subjects and/or program participants feature a “who’s who” of mid-20th century public figures, including Hubert Humphrey, Betty Shabazz, Robert Frost, Frank Lloyd Wright, Alistair Cooke, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Margaret Mead, Studs Terkel, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Marshall McLuhan, and Aldous Huxley. The collection also contains a notably large percentage of local content and voices, from a WDET Detroit series about local civil defense plans and policies called “Prepare for Survival,” to a series entitled “Document: Deep South,” a documentary series produced by WOUA at the University of Alabama depicting the increasing importance of the South in the economic development of the United States, to a show entitled “Search for Mental Health,” a series of talks about advances in psychiatry from the University of Chicago.

The NAEB was established in 1934 from a precursor organization, the Association of College and University Broadcasting Stations, that formed in 1925. The mission of the NAEB was to use communications technology for education and social purposes. It was an extremely successful and effective trade organization that, throughout its 60 years of existence, ushered in or helped to enable major changes in early educational broadcasting policy. In 1951, NAEB established a tape duplication exchange system in Urbana, IL, where programs produced by university radio stations across the country were copied and distributed to member stations, an early networking scheme that influenced the history of later public radio and television systems. The forerunner of CPB and its arms, NPR and PBS, the NAEB served as the primary organizer, developer, and distributor for noncommercial broadcast production and analysis between 1925 and 1981.

The NAEB Collection was contributed to the AAPB by the University of Maryland’s National Public Broadcasting Archives. The paper records of the NAEB are housed at University of Maryland and additional related materials are located at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Access the collection here: http://americanarchive.org/special_collections/naeb

Special thanks to Stephanie Sapienza for her contributions to the curation of this collection.

AAPB Debuts New Exhibit “Protecting Places: Historic Preservation and Public Broadcasting”

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Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) has launched a new digital exhibit titled “Protecting Places: Historic Preservation and Public Broadcasting.” Historic preservation is more than just saving old buildings from the bulldozer. Histories can be shared or silenced depending upon the preservation of places that represent a larger story. AAPB Digital Exhibits Intern Kara Zelasko uncovers how people have used public broadcasting to advocate, negotiate, or protest historic preservation efforts across America. Kara is currently a public history graduate student at Northeastern University interested in exploring history as a tool for placemaking and community engagement.

Using a diverse range of public radio and television content from 1950 – 2012, more than 100 digitized, historic public broadcasting programs, local news reports, radio call-in shows, and interviews document the important relationship historic structures have fostered between people and their neighborhoods. These visual and audio records digitized and preserved by the AAPB reveal the ways people have used or rejected preservation in the ever-changing American landscape to share local and national histories, illuminating the ways Americans have envisioned their communities through buildings and sites that connect past to present.

“Protecting Places: Historic Preservation and Public Broadcasting” is accessible online at http://americanarchive.org/exhibits/historic-preservation.

Listen to sample recordings from the exhibit…

Bill Inge, host of WILL’s radio call-in broadcast “Focus,” asks Richard Moe “how do we decide what buildings are worth saving?” Moe, then president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, answers that the decision essentially lies within the community and what will best serve its current and future needs. This answer underlines the struggle historic preservationists encounter between saving a building to share the past while also serving the community of the present. Listen to the full episode here.

This segment from New Jersey Nightly News explores the Victorian buildings that have come to define Cape May’s community. The interview reveals how Cape May, like many other places, have come to recognize the economic incentive in preserving buildings and landscapes that speak to the neighborhood’s character. Watch the full segment here.

This interview from South Carolina Educational Television’s “Connections” discusses the disappearing cabins of enslaved people in South Carolina.  Historic preservation can be a way to uncover marginalized stories that have been previously ignored. This record and others found in the exhibit reveal how histories have been both erased and uncovered in the American landscape over time. Watch the entire episode here.

PBS Annual Meeting Presentation & Takeaways

The American Archive team from WGBH presented at the PBS Annual Meeting in San Francisco. We had the wonderful opportunity to meet many of our station collaborators in person and gather tremendously useful feedback from participants. Many thanks to all of those who attended the session and reception, as well as those who took the time to meet with us at other moments during the conference. Additionally, we are sincerely grateful to our co-presenters, Sandy Schonning from KQED and Laura Sampson from Rocky Mountain PBS’ Stations Archived Memories program.

Below we’ve provided our Annual Meeting slideshow, divided into three sections: 1) history and progress of the American Archive, 2) stories from stations, and 3) discussion. During the discussion section, we asked a series of questions, and in this version of the presentation you will find a summary of the answers. If your organization is participating in the American Archive, please feel free to comment on this post with your answers to these questions (or questions about these questions!).

Feel free to email any of our session presenters:

Karen Cariani, Director
WGBH Media Library & Archives
karen_cariani [at] wgbh [dot] org

Casey E. Davis, Project Manager, American Archive
WGBH Media Library & Archives
casey_davis [at] wgbh [dot] org

Laura Sampson, Rocky Mountain PBS
Stations Archived Memories 

laurasampson [at] me [dot] com

Sandy Schonning, KQED
sschonning [at] kqed [dot] org