2023 Conference

The Radio Preservation Task Force of the Library of Congress held a successful conference, April 27-30 on Capitol Hill at the Madison Building of the Library of Congress, and at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.

The conference was titled “A Century of Broadcasting: Preservation and Renewal” and featured talks and panels with more than 300 archivists, radio and television historians, artists, information scientists, journalists, curators, sound studies scholars, broadcasters and others highlighting how preservation contributes to the history and creation of mass media at community, local, national and international levels.

You can find a PDF of the conference program here.

Some key features of the event included:

An event featuring The Kitchen Sisters, longtime radio producers and audio artists Davia Nelson & Nikki Silva. Their work includes stories for NPR, KQED, AIR and independent podcasts including Hidden Kitchens, Lost & Found Sound, and The Keepers. Their many awards and recognitions for their work at NPR and in podcasting include the duPont-Columbia Award and two Peabody Awards. The Kitchen Sisters archive has recently become a part of the collection at the Library of Congress.

A plenary talk on the topic of “Useful Radio” by archivist, writer and filmmaker Rick Prelinger of the University of California Santa Cruz. Prelinger is the founder of the Prelinger Archives, a unique collection of thousands of amateur, industrial and educational films. He is a longtime advocate for media preservation. 

A special launch organized by Black Women in Radio, LEGENDS: The Evolution and Legacy of Black Radio Culture. The new LEGENDS project is a comprehensive study of the people and events that helped shape 80 years of America’s Black radio culture into the digital age. The Black Women In Radio (BWIR) National Historical Collection acknowledges 70 years of radio history in a special presentation featuring distinguished collection members, known as Inaugural 30.  

A special event sponsored by the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives’ Audiovisual Media Preservation Initiative (AVMPI) will be held at the Baird Auditorium at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History to showcase highlights from Smithsonian radio programs and the work of radio artists Anna Friz and Jeff Kolar.

Adjacent to our conference, the Library of Congress’s Live at the Library series hosted a one-day special immersive audio installation with sounds from around the world, created by artist Jim Metzner, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Mahogany Row. Reserve a timed-entry pass. For decades, Metzner has documented the world through sound and hosted the series “Pulse of the Planet.” Metzner’s archive is now part of the Library’s collections. At 7:00 pm on the 27th in the Jefferson Building across Independence Ave, Metzner will be interviewed live by Radiolab founder Jad Abumrad. Register in advance here (this event will require separate registration from your conference registration.)

The Radio Preservation Task Force (RPTF) is a project of the Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Board and works in conjunction with the Library of Congress Recorded Sound Section. The RPTF serves as a clearing house that promotes research, preservation, and curation of historical audio across historical events from Civil Rights speeches to Congressional debates, LGBT community organizing, sports history, newscasts, and Spanish language and bilingual broadcasts. The project has been featured by a number of press outlets from C-SPAN, NPR, The Atlantic, The Hill, CBS Radio, and the Washington Post, as well as numerous academic publications.

The task force has teamed up with dozens of universities, as well as multiple partners including NPR Research, Archives, and Data; Smithsonian Folklife; U.S. National Archives; Voice of America, and the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art.

Support for this conference has come from the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, the MA program in Sound Arts and Industries at Northwestern University, and the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research.

Note: The RPTF’s directors and conference committee assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in any of the above information. This is only suggested information. The information contained in this site is provided on an “as is” basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness. Attendees should use their own discretion when making decisions about lodging and transportation to the event.