This caucus supports and promotes the preservation of college, community and educational radio archives and resources. The content of this page includes information on how to preserve archival materials, potential collaborative partners, where to find large collections of archived materials, grants, digitization vendors and current research.
Laura Schnitker (University of Maryland), Kate Jewell (Fitchburg State University), Jennifer Waits (Radio Survivor)
Click on these links to learn more preservation resources:
Best Practices for Preserving College, Community and Educational Radio History
- Make a preservation plan:
- What do you want to save?
- Where can you find long-term storage?
- How can you make it accessible?
- Where can you get financial support?
- Put your plan in action
- Create an inventory so you know what you have, and capture basic information: title, date, format, description, notable names, topics and events.
- Stabilize storage conditions, and do your best to keep all sensitive media, especially audiovisual items and photos, in relatively cool, climate-controlled conditions. Avoid basements or attics.
- Seek a permanent home for your collection, preferably a place that will commit to preserving them and making them accessible to the public such as universities, libraries or regional archives. If you have materials from a station licensed to a university, then reach out to that institution’s University Archivist.
- Digitize legacy media, even if it’s only a few programs. DIY if you have legacy equipment and know-how. Use an outside vendor if you don’t (see list below). This is the best way to show what you have and demonstrate its value.
- Make the recordings accessible online, if you can. You can host them on a blog or personal website. The AAPB or DPLA (described below) are good potential online repositories for larger volumes of recordings. If you have a program that contains songs under third-party copyright, you can still share a description of it. Look into Fair Use for more information on how to safely share the content.
- Procure funding to support preservation and access through grants (see below), crowdsourcing (such as station alumni groups), or institutional support from your repository. Milestone station anniversaries provide excellent opportunities to raise nostalgia and money, as well as showcase your collection. Collaboration with an institution will highly strengthen any grant proposal.
Online Archival Collections
American Archive of Public Broadcasting This project launched as a collaborative effort between the Library of Congress and WGBH in Boston in order to preserve “most significant public television and radio programs of the past 60 years.” Hundreds of thousands of programs from public media stations all over the U.S. are available for streaming in their online reading room, as well as special collection features highlighting stations, series, subjects and people. They are an excellent potential repository for community and educational radio collections seeking an online host.
Digital Public Library of America The DPLA partners with libraries throughout the country to make digitized content discoverable and accessible. This repository has a good deal of college, community and educational radio materials. Like the AAPB, they are a viable repository for radio collections.
KRAB Archive Former KRAB staff member and current RPTF member Chuck Reinsch maintains this online archive of digitized materials from beloved former Seattle community radio station KRAB-FM. The content available here includes programs, correspondence, photos, program guides and station ephemera.
National Association of Educational Broadcasters (NAEB) collection This comprehensive online collection of early educational radio content not only documents the history of the NAEB (the forerunner of CPB, NPR and PBS) but brings together two significant NAEB collections: the program archive housed at the University of Maryland, and the paper records stewarded by the University of Wisconsin. The website includes a guide to over 40 subjects covered in the collection, program streams with searchable transcripts, special exhibits and teaching tools.
National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) records This collection, housed at the University of Maryland, documents the history of the NFCB, a national membership organization of community-oriented, non-commercial radio stations, producers, and broadcasters. The paper collection contains approximately 94 linear feet of administrative documents, NFCB publications, legal documents, correspondence with member stations, member station program guides and catalogs, newsletters, photographs, and papers on the development of community radio. There are over 4,000 reel-to-reel magnetic tapes in the program archive.
NFCB Digital Program archive Over 600 historical programs from the NFCB program archive were digitized through a CLIR Recordings-at-Risk grant (see below), and are available for streaming in UMD’s Digital Collections. Content includes live music performances from all over the world, rallies and speeches by political activists, interviews, and cultural and political programs on a wide variety of subjects.
Pacifica Radio Archives As the oldest listener-supported station in the country, Pacifica radio in Berkeley, CA, provided an important model for all subsequent public broadcasting. Their archives chronicle the work of their five network stations, and programs include documentaries, performances, discussions, debates, drama, poetry readings, commentaries and radio arts. Although work on the archives has ceased, this website contains a multitude of program descriptions and streams. The Council on Library and Information Resources offers modest grants to individuals and organizations that support the preservation of rare and unique audio, audiovisual, and other time-based media of high scholarly value through digital reformatting.
Spinning Indie/Radio Survivor Station Tours: This website documents over 165 visits to college and community radio stations in the United States and Ireland by Jennifer Waits, broadcaster, writer, podcast host and co-chair of the CCER Caucus. Each post includes interviews with station staff, historical background, photos and links.
College and University Student Newspaper Collections: Many colleges and universities have begun digitization of archival materials with campus publications, in particular yearbooks and student newspapers. Many of these are now available full-text searchable online. For example, Colgate University’s Maroon and News, as well as other publications, have been digitized and are available here. Searching for Colgate’s WRCU will bring up a few options for which publication to search, each covering a different span of time (results example). Searching capabilities, full-text access, and other features will vary, but these publications are good places to begin research on stations’ histories and to establish key events such as the launch of an FM signal, wattage upgrade, or governance changes. Similar databases (also often available through library archives) access digitized newspapers will also reveal coverage in non-collegiate newspapers.
The list of online exhibits below document the unique histories of these college radio stations in various ways. Some are single pages with historical overviews, while others have multiple sections with links and streams. Content includes timelines, photos, oral histories, program guides, correspondence, historical broadcasts and station IDs.
50 Years of KBOO (community radio station in Portland, Oregon)
Preservation & Access Grants
CLIR Recordings-as-Risk grants The Council on Library and Information Resources offers modest grants to individuals, organizations and institutions that “support the preservation of rare and unique audio, audiovisual, and other time-based media.” These grants emphasize scholarly value and historically marginalized voices, both of which are often the strengths of college, community and educational radio.
NEH Humanities Collections and References Resources grants The National Endowment for the Humanities offers grants to “create various reference resources that facilitate use of cultural materials” and covers all formats including sound recordings. Collaboration with other organizations or institutions is recommended.
NEH Preservation Assistance for Smaller Institutions grants These grants are specifically designed to “help small and mid-sized institutions — such as libraries, museums, historical societies, archival repositories, cultural organizations, town and county records offices, and colleges and universities — improve their ability to preserve and care for their significant humanities collections.”
National Historic Publication and Records Commission grants The NHPRC offers a variety of grants that are conducive to preserving radio history such as Access to Historical Records: Archival Projects, Access to Historical Records: Major Initiatives, and Archives Collaboratives.
National Recording Preservation Foundation The NRPF offers modest grants to support “preservation and/or archiving, digitization, collection appraisal and planning, material or professional conservation, and the creation of means for public and or research access to collections.” These grants would be suited for recordings of broadcasts that contain particularly meaningful works, such as speeches by political activists, performances by famous musicians, influential community action or first-person narratives of major events.
Audio Restorations Located in Santa Rosa, CA, Audio-Restorations will digitize the following: LPs, 45s, 78s, cassette, microcassette, reel-to-reel tapes, DATs, ADATs, 8 tracks, videos, wire recordings, homemade records, laserdiscs, ZIP & floppy discs. Their website is user-friendly with easy step-by-step shipping instructions, and pricing and payment information.
ARSC Audio Preservation and Restoration Directory This 13-page pdf directory includes Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) members who offer services for audio preservation and restoration, as well as ARSC members and non-members who offer equipment and supplies for audio preservation and restoration.
George Blood Audio/Video/Film/Data GBAVFD is “a leading provider of archival audio and moving image preservation” in the Philadelphia area. They digitize obsolete and deteriorating audio, video and film media. They’ve partnered with nationally-renowned museums, colleges and universities, libraries, festivals, orchestras and other archival repositories. They are reliable vendors for a grant project of any size.
HBCU Radio Archival Survey Work is underway to survey the holdings of college radio stations at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Public radio station WYSO, Central State University’s WCSU, and the National Afro American Museum & Cultural Center have partnered on this project.
Live from the Underground (college radio since the 1970s) Katherine Jewell’s forthcoming book, Live from the Underground explores, through archival research, college radio history through the debates at individual stations across the nation since the 1970s.
A History of Student Radio in Australia Rafal Alumairy’s forthcoming book about student radio history in Australia.