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Radio Preservation Task Force Plans First Big Conference

Scholars and archivists are working to address “the perilous state of the nation’s radio heritage”

Text has been updated with event dates and website.

Paul McLane is Radio World editor in chief.

Fighting the good fight to protect radio’s heritage, folks at the Radio Preservation Task Force plan their first national conference for February here in Washington. I hope you’ll attend; I plan to.

The task force is part of the Library of Congress’s National Recording Preservation Board. “Our first national conference, ‘Saving America’s Radio Heritage,’ will bring together our dedicated research associates and affiliated archives and collections, along with members of the broader academic, archival, media and general public, to discuss what we have accomplished and plan for future activities,” the organizers stated.

Events will include a tour of the Library of Congress Packard Center, where audio and video preservation work is done; a day of panels about radio’s history and cultural significance downtown at the library’s Madison Building; and a day of workshops and meetings at the nearby University of Maryland Center for Mass Media and Culture, formerly the Library of American Broadcasting.

Seeking to address “the perilous state of the nation’s radio heritage,” the task force has been seeking to identify major collections of radio recordings and other materials. It says it now has 130 media studies scholars involved, as well as some 350 affiliate archives, collections and radio producing organizations. Affiliates range from NPR and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage to the Studs Terkel Archive and the Third Coast International Audio Festival.

According to the conference announcement, keynote speakers will include Professor Paddy Scannell of the University of Michigan, a radio scholar and historian, and Sam Brylawski, former head of the LOC’s Recorded Sound Division, described as a digital recording pioneer.

I’m glad this effort is moving forward, for all the reasons I’ve written about. Who among us hasn’t shuddered at stories of audio archives ending up in a dumpster, or lost to the degradation of audio tapes sitting on a shelf?

The event will be held Feb. 25-27. Learn more at