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The Staff Behind Audio Preservation at NEDCC

World Day for Audiovisual Heritage is recognized on October 27th every year to raise awareness of the significance and preservation risks of recorded sound and audiovisual documents. NEDCC's Audio Preservation lab provides 100% fully-attended digital transfers of audio carries ranging from magnetic and digital media to grooved discs and wax cylinders. We asked the audio engineers to share how they came to the field of audio preservation:

Hannah Rose Baker, Audio Preservation Engineer

I’m a relative newcomer to audio preservation, though I’ve been working on and off with recorded collections for about 15 years. I’ve always had an interest in the past and archival materials and as a traditional musician, I frequently turn to old recordings for source material. I also have a background in folklore and public culture and through that have worked with a variety of ethnographic collections, in particular through Columbia University’s Center for Ethnomusicology. My audio engineering experience is mainly from the other side of the microphone as a musician, recording in the studio so I have a lot to learn but I am really enjoying the process!


Julia Hawkins, IRENE Audio Preservation Engineer

I started off my career in libraries and archives. In most of the archival collections I processed, audio formats would always be mixed in with other materials, were generally poorly labeled, and unfortunately had to be set aside after initial inventorying. Resources in general were limited and any budget for preserving audio was completely grant-dependent. But that didn’t mean I wanted to hear the recordings any less! I think there’s something very special about hearing the perspectives of individuals in their own words. A transcription might be a useful tool for research, but it can’t capture inflection, hesitation, or the distortion of a child screaming into the microphone. Now, I’m happy to be a part of preserving this history and making it accessible. 


Karl Fleck, Associate Audio Preservation Engineer

I came to work at NEDCC because I have a background in music and audio engineering. So I’ve developed a skillset for critical listening and audio techy-things. It’s a joy to work with historic audio and to listen/learn about all these really cool projects, from the Vermont Jazz Center to the National Parks Service. It’s particularly satisfying for me when I’m able to digitize audio from these legacy formats and deliver the audio to clients and researchers.


Frank Cunningham, Senior IRENE Audio Preservation Engineer

My interest in audio preservation came from being part of the problem, and also from a fascination with the history of the technology.  Since my days with college radio, I have been making live performance recordings, so I have decades of what could charitably be called an archive (I never throw anything out.) My responsibility ended with handing a master to the client, but a lot of the performances were worth rehearing, and that was becoming a problem.  But it was not as big a problem as that facing NEDCC's clients who had decades of grooved media ready for restoration by IRENE. My years of experience as an engineer both designing and using audio systems were a perfect fit to the needs of the IRENE system.


Bryce Roe, Director of Audio Preservation Services

In studying ethnomusicology as an undergraduate, much of my research time was spent searching for relevant media recordings to enhance my learning beyond the text. Working with these materials quickly taught me that I had a stronger interest in the recordings themselves, and, more so than completing my research papers, I was motivated to understand how we select and preserve these materials in order to continually invite new experiences. This inspired me to pursue a career as an archivist, and I sought out every opportunity to study and work with audiovisual collections specifically. There isn’t a degree program for this specialized work, and it’s a relatively new area of study within the conservation and preservation fields. Amongst our staff at NEDCC, we each bring unique, valuable skills, and I love that it’s a real team effort!

Learn more about the staff via their bios.