National Director: Shawn VanCour (University of California, Los Angeles)
Organizationally, the RPTF operates semi-autonomously, with its own National Director, and is authorized to develop projects and initiatives consistent with its charge. The Director coordinates with the RPTF Chair, who serves as a liaison to the NRPB, and both the Chair and Director report directly to the Board.
Consistent with its goals of promoting preservation of, research on, and educational uses of archival radio collections, RPTF activities are coordinated by three executive-level divisions, each of which has its own executive committee composed of individuals with expertise in their respective areas. Executive divisions are responsible for (1) coordinating RPTF operations relevant to their area and advising the National Director on key priorities and needed resources, (2) developing and compiling public resources for release through the RPTF website, and (3) developing new initiatives to complement or support work performed by other RPTF units.
RPTF Chair & NRPB Sound Fellow: Josh Shepperd (University of Colorado)
RPTF Co-Chair: Michele Hilmes (University of Wisconsin)
Conference Director: Neil Verma (Northwestern University)
Online Content Manager: Ingrid Ockert (Princeton University)
Graduate Student Council: TBA
The Preservation addresses challenges with and fosters collaborative action on physical and digital preservation of radio collection, including a special focus on endangered collections. An Executive Committee establishes the division’s working agenda, builds networks to foster relevant technical, archival, and preservation expertise, and promotes the work of the division through the RPTF website. The division also maintains an Advisory Committee on Endangered Collections, which offers guidance on preservation of endangered collection materials.
The Research Division seeks to build and maintain resources for scholars, students, journalists, documentarians, and others pursuing work in the history and culture of radio and recorded sound. The group’s objective is to encourage and facilitate the creation of new knowledge and new perspectives on these media and their development over time. The division also maintains an Advisory Committee on Transnational Radio Research that offers guidance on appropriate priorities and strategies for advancing work in this area.
The Education Division supports the discoverability, accessibility, application, and analysis of radio and sound archives for a range of pedagogical activities. In collaboration with RPTF divisions, caucuses, and members, it sponsors events to showcase educational uses of radio and sound collections and circulates pedagogical materials to support the integration of radio and sound sources into curricula across a range of disciplines and at all levels of instruction.
In addition to its executive divisions, the RPTF also manages several standing projects and maintains a series of themed caucus groups. Project directors and caucus chairs report to the appropriate executive divisions and may consult with them on strategies and resources needed to sustain their activities.
The RPTF sustains several standing projects in areas consistent with its charge. Current projects include:
National Radio Recordings Database
This project operates in fulfillment of the NRPB’s charge “to develop an online inventory of extant American radio archival collections.” It includes a Network Division, which performs outreach work to solicit collection information from relevant collection holders, and a Metadata Division that ingests and cleans this collection information and maintains the recordings database.
Cold War Communications Project
This project operates in partnership with archives and research institutions throughout the world to promote preservation of and scholarship on radio collections documenting Cold War history and culture. It includes an Archives Division, whose work focuses on identification and preservation of relevant collection materials, and a Research Division, whose members compile, produce, and disseminate original scholarship on these collections.
This project is currently under development and expected to launch sometime in 2021. Further details will be posted soon.
Consistent with its mission statement, the RPTF maintains a series of themed caucus groups that explore opportunities for grant funding, help identify and generate metadata on relevant collections, and encourage academic study and educational uses of radio in their respective areas. Each caucus brings together a mix of researchers, archivists, collectors, and other experts. Caucuses have no fixed membership or duration, and new caucuses may be added in areas where sufficient interest and expertise is identified. Each caucus has at least one Chair, who coordinates its activities and reports to the appropriate executive divisions. Active caucuses include:
African American and Civil Rights Radio
The caucus seeks to publish relevant scholarship and make publicly available materials concerning the relationship between radio, African Americans, and the Civil Rights Movement, with a particular focus on the years between 1948 and 1968.
This caucus includes professors, graduate students, librarians, archivists and independent scholars. Its members work on publications that draw from recently digitized Caribbean materials in the US, creating lesson plans and disseminating information about their collections, including planning for a series of multilingual audio essays.
College, Community, and Educational Radio
This caucus supports and promotes the preservation of college, community and educational radio archives and resources.
Gender and Sexuality
This caucus seeks to identify and preserve recorded radio sound related to LGBTQIA communities, with a specific focus on women’s voices. It works with local broadcasters and collectors, as well as activists groups connected to LGBTQIA and/or feminist education and social movements.
History of In-Studio Performances
This caucus works with music labels to document and increase the public availability of recordings and other materials connected to musical performances aired live from radio studios and remote venues.
This caucus focuses on identifying collections of early Spanish-language and bilingual radio, facilitates the preservation of Spanish-language and bilingual radio materials, and encourages academic and public scholarship on Spanish-language and bilingual radio for broadcasting history and culture in the United States.
Graduate Student Council
The RPTF maintains a council of graduate students from a variety of cognate disciplines invested in radio preservation, including media studies, communication studies, American studies, history, sound art, and information studies. Members of this council advise the RPTF on matters of student concern and advocate for issues relevant to students’ professional development.
Online Content Management
The RPTF aims to maintain a robust online presence that includes both web and social media content. This includes a dedicated webpage on the Library of Congress’s website (https://www.loc.gov/programs/national-recording-preservation-plan/about-this-program/radio-preservation-task-force/), as well as an independently managed website (https://radiopreservation.org/). For social media channels, the RPTF maintains an independent Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/radiopreservation), as well as a its own Twitter account (@RadioTaskForce).
The RPTF’s web and social media content is overseen by the organization’s Online Content Manager, who supervises a web development and social media team. RPTF unit heads who wish to release content via the RPTF website, announce their unit’s activities or events, or develop online promotional campaigns, may consult with the Online Content Manager to make arrangements.
The RPTF has held two national conferences to date, in 2016 and 2017, both hosted by the Library of Congress. A third conference scheduled for 2020 has been postponed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Conference management is overseen by a Conference Director and Conference Planning Committee. Planning will resume once the Library of Congress has reopened to the public and cleared the RPTF to pursue a rescheduled event.
This organizational plan and accompanying organizational chart will be reviewed and updated at regular intervals by RPTF executive officers.
Last updated January 2021