My name is Dena Schulze and I am the Public Broadcasting Preservation fellow partnered with WUNC radio station in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I graduate in May from the Archives and Records Management track in the Library Science School at UNC. It has been my privilege to digitize over 170 assets from WUNC radio station that were deemed at risk. Formats included CDs, cassettes and DAT tapes. Check out some pictures and ramblings about my experience below!
Time Travelin’ with WUNC
Every time I put on the headphones, cue up the tape or CD and press record it’s like stepping into a time machine! I had noise reducing headphones that allowed me to be totally immersed in the recordings. Shows at WUNC that I digitized were mostly weekly talk shows about current events and the people, places and things of North Carolina. There were also special programs and recordings that changed up the monotony of talk shows. I enjoyed learning about the state that I have called home for the last fifteen years. Over the course of the fellowship I was able to digitize about 170 assets and learned so much about both the process and the content. Here are a few key words that summarize my experience:
There were times when I was listening to a talk show or news segment and if you had changed the names and dates, I would have thought it was a current broadcast. Topics included poverty, politics, abortion, economics, gay marriage, health care, etc. These issues are still constantly in the news and being debated in our country. While I was listening to people talk about these issues 5, 10, 20 years ago it brought a new perspective to the news I was reading about in the present. Will we ever solve these problems or end the debate? Maybe not but I think the continuing discussion is vital and looking back on what has been said before can help the present conversation move forward.
Many of the shows and recordings also featured performing arts and music. Gary Shivers on Jazz played collections of jazz music, including an episode on Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald which I thoroughly enjoyed. The first episode of The Linda Belans show focused on television, specifically the popular shows airing at the time: Friends and Frasier. There was also a collection of short stories recorded by authors including Lee Smith and Haven Kimmel. As someone who loves the arts, I loved this theme throughout the assets and listening to things I would never have heard of otherwise.
Cueing up a tape was almost like going on a treasure hunt! The titles of the episode didn’t necessarily tell me what I was going to be listening to for the next hour or so. Sometimes they were pretty simple: “Ray Bradbury” was a conversation with the famous author. Others had one description or name but that was only part of the tape. I was surprised to discover a whole segment on the art of fiddling and another interview featuring actress Amy Adams at the beginning of her career. Some did not even have a description on the tape and that content was a total surprise! Kept me on my toes!
As mentioned above, I have lived in North Carolina for the past fifteen years and felt a strong connection to the shows focusing on the people, places and issues of the state. One show discusses a school being built near where I lived and I had no idea its history and beginning. Another had an interview with Dr. William Friday, who is basically North Carolina royalty and at one time was the president of the University of North Carolina system. Every recording dealt with a person, issue or place concerning the state of North Carolina. It gave me a greater knowledge and appreciation for the state I call home!
This word describes more of the process than the content. Because we were creating the workstation and workflow from the ground up, there were a lot of hiccups to work through. Equipment did not arrive on time or did not work properly, the computer did not read the CDs or programs correctly, miscommunication in emails are just a few examples. I had to be ready to move onto another part of the fellowship while other factors were figured out or fixed. Once the workstation and workflow were set up, everything ran a lot smoother but it takes time to get all the different pieces working together. I found it vital that I had mentors and professionals at my university and at the station to ask for help and I would not have gotten the workstation up and running without them!
I had so much fun immersing myself in recordings from the past and learning some history! I think these recordings are going to be so valuable on the AAPB website and I am so glad I was able to help get them online!
– Written by PBPF Fellow Dena Schulze
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.