Saving America’s Radio Heritage: Radio Preservation, Access, and Education

A conference sponsored by the Radio Preservation Task force, in cooperation with the Library of Congress and Special Collections in Mass Media and Culture at the University of Maryland, College Park

26-27 February 2016, Washington, DC

In order to consolidate and advance the efforts of the RPTF to preserve American radio’s scattered and endangered radio heritage, particularly focusing on local, public, community and non-profit radio, the conference will bring together radio scholars, archivists, and curators to celebrate radio’s history and cultural impact, to discuss ongoing issues, and to plan for the next stage of our task force activities.


Paddy Scannell, Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Michigan, founding editor of Media, Culture and Society and author of A Social History of British Broadcasting, 1922-1939, among many other books and articles.

Sam Brylawski, co-director of the American Discography Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara and editor of UCSB’s Discography of American Historical Recordings. Former head of the Library of Congress Recorded Sound Section.


We invite task force members, and those interested in getting involved with RPTF activities, to submit paper proposals on topics central to the task of radio preservation, history, and archiving such as:

— radio and national heritage

— campus and community radio in American culture

— local radio preservation

— public radio history

— the politics of radio archives

— history, aesthetics, and the archive

— educational radio history

— advocacy, social movements, and radio

— civil rights and radio

— identity, language, and radio

— intellectual property, copyright, and fair use

— digital tools, access, and education

We also welcome ideas for participatory workshop presentations on applied topics such as:

— funding sources for radio preservation and archiving

— ongoing preservation projects and the challenges facing them

— working with metadata

— radio’s role in cultural institutions: museums, libraries, educational exhibits

— under-recognized collecting areas: sports broadcasting, radio advertising, minority radio, non-English-language radio, etc.

— the digital challenge for radio archives and institutions

— teaching America’s radio heritage

Please submit your proposals to Michele Hilmes at NO LATER THAN OCTOBER 5. Proposals should include an abstract (maximum 250 words), a brief bio, and contact information in an attached Word/pdf document.


We are committed to recognizing the work that members of the task force have contributed over the last two years by providing some funding to all of those on the task force who actively participate in the conference. Funds are limited, so we hope that those who can obtain travel funding from their home institutions will do so; we will offer you a $200 honorarium (also for those located in the DC area). If you do not have access to travel funding, we will attempt to cover as much of your costs as we can, up to $500 depending on distance traveled.


Friday’s meetings will be held at the Library of Congress’s Madison Building on Capitol Hill. Saturday’s sessions will be held at the Hornbake Library Special Collections in Mass Media and Culture center at the University of Maryland’s College Park campus.


If enough attendees are interested, on Thursday, February 25th we will offer a day long field trip to the Library of Congress’s Packard Center located in Culpeper, VA, about an hour south of Washington. This striking state-of-the art facility houses the Library’s audio and video collections, as well as its extensive motion picture holdings. It is not generally open to the public.


Michele Hilmes, recently retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, chairs this two day event. She has been assisted by Josh Shepperd of Catholic University and Chris Sterling of George Washington University, both in Washington, DC.

The program board consists of Susan Smulyan, Brown University; Alex Russo, Catholic University; Dolores Inés Casillas, UC-Santa Barbara; Neil Verma, Northwestern University; and Chuck Howell, Laura Schnitker, and Mike Henry of Special Collections in Mass Media and Culture, University of Maryland.

QUESTIONS: Contact Michele Hilmes,

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