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Preserving HBCU Radio Station Audio Recordings



NEDCC is Partnering with WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, on a Mellon-funded Grant Project to Preserve Audio Recordings from Radio Stations at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

WYSO and the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices have been awarded a $250,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a project to preserve archival audio on black college campuses around the country.

NEDCC will work with Jocelyn Robinson, producer for emerging initiatives, education, and archives at The Eichelberger Center for Community Voices, to assist radio stations and archives at HBCUs throughout the country. The team will help the institutions assess their historical audio inventory and create plans for preserving the material. NEDCC will provide expertise from its Preservation Services and Audio Preservation departments, to offer training in audio preservation and disaster planning, and to perform collection-level assessments and other consultations.

“This generous support will enable HBCU radio stations to save their precious historical materials by developing an ethos of preservation,” Robinson says. "These college radio stations are sitting on a wealth of recordings from key Civil Rights Era events on campuses to more recent Black Lives Matter protests. But the physical and digital media that contain these sounds are often disorganized and at risk of deterioration due to lack of resources."

The stations’ holdings also are threatened because many of the schools are in areas of the country being affected by increasingly dangerous severe weather due to climate change. “HBCU radio faces a looming preservation crisis,” Robinson says. “Without the appropriate intervention, we stand to lose forever these primary source materials that reflect the diversity of the Black experience over time.”

There are 104 HBCUs, and 29 of them have radio stations. Because many of these schools are in the South, in the crucible of the Civil Rights Movement, Robinson knew that their materials would likely reflect the critical experiences of their campuses and communities during that era and beyond. So, in 2016, she began developing the HBCU Radio Station Archival Survey Project, through which she surveyed the HBCUs, which resulted in visits to 11 of them to determine what radio archives they held. Phase two of the project will allow Robinson and the grant team to complete site visits for the remaining 18 radio stations.

Yellow Springs, Ohio-based WYSO 91.3 FM is the Dayton region’s NPR affiliate. They play a dynamic mix of music and deliver robust daily news and project reporting. With 80,000 listeners, it reaches much of southwest Ohio and is rapidly growing its membership base.



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