Cataloging, Preservation, and Discovery of Radio Content in Music Libraries and Archives

Music and broadcasting, though situated in different disciplines, are closely interrelated, and scholars working in both fields may find a number of new and undiscovered insights working together. Music libraries and archives may include performances also heard on radio, while radio archives are similarly full of music recordings, and both archives often contain complementary sets of paper documentation sound archive may lack. The session will address three major topics: 1) the challenges of effectively bringing out the “radio-ness” of musical recordings in library and archival cataloging, 2) preserving those recordings across multiple, endangered audio formats, and 3) facilitating researcher discoverability of/access to relevant recordings across diverse and geographically scattered archives. The Radio Preservation Task Force was created in 2014 as a result of the Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Plan to identify and save endangered collections, develop an online inventory of extant radio archival collections, and to support collaboration between faculty researchers and archivists, and to act as a clearinghouse to encourage the academic study of the cultural history of radio. Shawn VanCour will talk about radio collections as music archives, discussing the RPTF’s larger goals and current initiatives, highlighting significant musical holdings of some of its member institutions, and addressing the challenges of making this content discoverable and accessible for educational use. Thom Pease will explore traditional music cataloging approaches and other non-music cataloging approaches as they pertain to radio content, and envision ways of making visible the broadcasting qualities of musical materials in our catalogs. He will relay his vision of how radio programs could be found in a library catalog, and talk about ways to visualize radio data in a library discovery system. Maristella Feustle will speak about her experience as a music researcher in radio archives. She will speak about her research at the Library of Congress and the National Archives in their Voice of America materials pertaining to radio announcer Willis Conover. Feustle will highlight her experience in building a catalog of what still exists, and where, of Conover’s VOA-related materials from 1955-1996, with an emphasis on locating interviews with jazz musicians, and unreleased live and studio recordings. Feustle will highlight the perils, pitfalls, serendipitous turns, and the patience that it takes to navigate a medium and a subject without rigid curricular boundaries and ephemeral documentation.

Thomas Pease, an experienced cataloger of radio content for close to twenty years, will present on the intricacies of radio cataloging, both at the station level, the network level, and in a recorded sound archive. He will explore the weaknesses of traditional music cataloging approaches as they pertain to radio content, and propose best practices to add information in the areas of descriptive and technical metadata, authorized access points, and subject headings/genre-form terms, as well as work and expression data in the MARC format. He will touch on the business and distribution elements of radio (particularly public radio), explain the forms and formats of recorded radio, and how they can be brought out in cataloging; as well as give the contexts of how some great radio collections have survived like NBC, WOR, Voice of America, AFRTS, NPR, and others. Musical content on air from various genres will be highlighted, especially to show the challenges of titling, segmentation, and content/contributor identification.

Maristella Feustle is a dedicated jazz researcher as well as a devoted music archivist, and will speak about her experience as a music researcher in radio archives. She will speak about her research at the Library of Congress and the National Archives in their Voice of America materials pertaining to radio announcer Willis Conover. Feustle will highlight her experience in building a catalog of what still exists, and where, of Conover’s VOA-related materials from 1955-1996, with an emphasis on locating interviews with jazz musicians, and unreleased live and studio recordings. These searches tie back to her institution’s (the University of North Texas) own rich collection of Conover-related material. Feustle will highlight the perils, pitfalls, serendipitous turns, and the patience that it takes to navigate a medium and a subject without rigid curricular boundaries and ephemeral documentation.

  Thomas Pease, Library of Congress; Shawn Vancour, University of California-Los Angeles; Maristella Feustle, University of North Texas

  11:00am, 85 minutes |  Grand Ballroom I/II