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Pacifica Moves to Save Nation's Oldest Public Radio Archives

by Pacifica Radio Archives Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2002 at 2:38 PM

In an effort to save and restore more than 47,000 historic tapes that span half a century of radio programming, the five-station Pacifica Radio network will broadcast a national on-air fundraising benefit on Tuesday, November 19, featuring rare recordings from the endangered archives.

Pacifica Radio Archives


November 11, 2002






LOS ANGELES, CA -- In an effort to save and restore more

than 47,000 historic tapes that span half a century of

radio programming, the five-station Pacifica Radio

network will broadcast a national on-air fundraising

benefit on Tuesday, November 19, featuring rare

recordings from the endangered archives.

Considered by many historians and scholars to be one

of the most important audio collections in the world,

thousands of tapes in the Los Angeles-based Pacifica

Radio Archives are in danger of permanent damage

caused by aging. Internationally recognized sound

preservation experts have advised Pacifica to conduct

an immediate review of the endangered tapes and to

transfer them to new mediums, such as digital audio.

"This archive is a national and international

treasure," said J. Brian DeShazor, Director of

the Pacifica Radio Archives. "And we must act now as

custodians of these rare and historic recordings

before it's too late."

Founded in 1949 by World War II conscientious objector

Lewis Hill, Pacifica Radio was created as the first

non-commercial, listener-sponsored radio station in

the United States. The Pacifica Radio Archives was

established in 1971 to house the audio tape collection

gathered from Pacifica Radio stations KPFA-94.1 FM in

Berkeley, KPFK-90.7 FM in Los Angeles, WBAI-99.5 FM in

New York, KPFT-90.1 FM in Houston, and WPFW-89.3 FM in

Washington D.C.

Starting with 10,000 tapes the archive has grown to

over 47,000 recordings covering more than 53 years of

public radio programming. As the fifty-three-year

leader in open access, First Amendment radio Pacifica

has broadcast programs of singular historical and

educational value, programs of people and events

commercial media did not document well, if at all. The

Pacifica programs have won distinguished citations

including many Armstrong, Peabody, and Ohio State


The November 19 marathon broadcast will include rare

recordings of internationally known writers, political

activists, religious leaders and entertainers such as

Ann Sexton, Archbishop Oscar Romero, Patty Hearst,

Fannie Lou Hamer, Paul Robeson, Pablo Neruda, Langston

Hughes, Allen Ginsberg, Yoko Ono, Bette Davis, Simone

de Beauvoir, Jack Kerouac, Rachel Carson, the Dalai

Lama, Lenny Bruce and many others. The broadcast will

be presented in an educational format, focusing each

hour on a specific theme: Native American History,

Women’s Herstory, Literature and Drama, Latino/Chicano

History, Eastern Philosophy, the Civil Rights

Movement, Civil Liberties, The Legacy of Malcolm X,

and so on.

In order to preserve the Pacifica Radio Archives and

continue to enable public access to the recordings,

Pacifica needs to take immediate steps to prevent any

further deterioration of the collection. According to

preservation experts, Pacifica should conduct a detailed

assessment of how many tapes are in immediate need of

reformatting, and then hire an experienced preservation

transfer engineer to transfer the tapes to a new medium,

such as digital audio.

To support the Pacifica Radio Archives or access the

Pacifica Radio Archives Listening Salon go to:

Pacifica Radio Archives

3729 Cahuenga Blvd. West

North Hollywood, CA 91604

Ph. 818-506-1077

Ph. 800-735-0230

Fax 818-506-1084


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