Radio Preservation Task Force Conference

A day of activities hosted by the Audiovisual Media Preservation Initiative at Smithsonian Libraries and Archives

As part of the Radio Preservation Task Force 2023 Conference, a special day will be sponsored by the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives’ Audiovisual Media Preservation Initiative (AVMPI) will be held at the Baird Auditorium at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History to showcase highlights from Smithsonian radio programs and the work of radio artists Anna Friz and Jeff Kolar.

All attendees should register for the full conference (free).


11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

“Useful Radio Part 2:” a performance by artists Anna Friz and Jeff Kolar in response to Rick Prelinger's “The Other Spectrum: Useful Radio”

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Lunch Break

1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Radio at the Smithsonian

3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

RPTF Listening Party

Download a copy of the program.

Session Descriptions: 

“Useful Radio Part 2:” a performance by artists Anna Friz and Jeff Kolar in response to Rick Prelinger's “The Other Spectrum: Useful Radio”

Special Event

Baird Auditorium
Sunday, April 30, 2023, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Includes Q&A with artists and Rick Prelinger.

Radio at the Smithsonian


Baird Auditorium
Sunday, April 30, 2023, 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Radio recordings have a central historical place within Smithsonian collections across the Institution, but the medium has played other nuanced roles. This panel considers lesser-known incarnations of radio at the Smithsonian: the SI’s amateur station NN3SI, the material culture collections of radio hardware within the National Museum of American History’s Electricity Collection, and original SI-produced educational and promotional programming.

The History of NN3SI
John Weise, NN3SI President & Lead IT Specialist, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Smithsonian Institution

Amateur Radio, known as ham radio, is a hobby using radios to make two-way communication all over the world for the purposes of enjoyment, electronic experimentation, and emergency management. The Smithsonian Institution has a long history with amateur radio going back to 1976 when SI established the radio station NN3SI during America’s bicentennial celebrations. Smithsonian Amateur Radio Group president John Weise will present the history of amateur radio at the Smithsonian and will share the current state of the radio group and its future projects.

Bio: John Weise is a senior information technology specialist in Smithsonian’s Office of the Chief Information Officer. With OCIO since 2015, John is the engineer responsible for the overall configuration, security and management of desktop and laptop devices. Before Smithsonian, John served for five years in the United States Air Force. While in the Air Force, he started in amateur radio in 2012 while operating the Military Auxiliary Radio Service station in Elmendorf Alaska. John’s current radio callsign is N4NPG.

Into the Airwaves: Collecting Radio at the Smithsonian
Hal Wallace, Curator, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

The Smithsonian has preserved and presented radio history for over a century. From military wireless of the First World War to digital devices of today, Smithsonian collections document the technical and social development of radio. Much of that material resides in the Electricity Collections at the National Museum of American History. Curator Hal Wallace will present an overview of the radio collection, discussing how various curators developed it over the years as well as its current status. Guess what? Amelia Earhart played a cameo role in bringing radio into our holdings.

Bio: Hal Wallace is curator of the Electricity Collections at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Responsible for over 25,000 objects documenting the history of electrical science and technologies, Hal has specialized in the history of electric light and power since joining NMAH in 1995. He holds a Ph.D. in public policy & policy history from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Great Doors Swing Open: A Historical Primer on Smithsonian-Produced Radio
Walter Forsberg, Curator of Audiovisual Media, Smithsonian Libraries and Archives

From the wildly popular 1936-1942 WPA-sponsored NBC co-production, The World Is Yours, to later efforts by Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley to employ radio programs to create channels from SI’s vast academic-cultural reservoir to people in their homes throughout the nation, the history of the Smithsonian’s original radio programming is as diverse as the Institution, itself.

Bio: Walter Forsberg grew up listening to a 1947 Firestone Bakelite Air Chief Radio and is Curator of Audiovisual Media, Smithsonian Libraries and Archives.

RPTF Listening Party

Special Event

Baird Auditorium
Sunday, April 30, 2023, 3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

To cap off the conference, join us for over an hour’s worth of curious and rare radio recordings and excerpts from the collections of RPTF attendees.

The Irish Pirate Radio Selection
(circa early 1980s)
Eddie Bohan, Irish Pirate Radio Archive at Dublin City University

A brief complication of the many Irish pirate radio stations that populated the airwaves during a golden period of pirate broadcasting 1978-1988. Many of these stations were known as super pirates garnering millions in advertising revenue and almost bankrupting the State broadcaster RTE before stricter legislation to curb the illegal activity was introduced and the pirate stations were replaced by an independent commercial sector.

The recordings are part of the audio donations to the Irish Pirate Radio Archive at Dublin City University.

For more info:

Rediscovered Radio: Reflecting on Revolutionary Voices from the 1970s
Jocelyn Robinson, WYSO

A return to early May 1971, when huge demonstrations were held in Washington DC, to protest the war in Viet Nam. The organizers believed that more peaceful protest methods of the past weren’t working. Theirs was a more radical agenda. For three days, protestors blocked intersections and bridges in DC, intending to shut down the federal government. The Nixon administration reacted with force, and on the third day brought in ten thousand federal troops. More than 12,000 demonstrators were eventually arrested. Amid the chaos in Washington, a new radio program went on the air.  All Things Considered, NPR’s flagship news program, was born May third, 1971, and among the stories that day, listeners heard correspondent Jeff Kamen report on defiant young anti-war protestors and frustrated police officers.

For more info:

Dedication of Station NN3SI by Secretary Dillon Ripley
John Weise, NN3SI & Kira Sobers, Smithsonian Institution Archives

Excerpt from a recording of speeches for the dedication of the amateur radio station NN3SI at the National Museum of History and Technology (NMHT) on July 8, 1976. The station was part of the NMHT exhibition “A Nation of Nations.” Speakers featured on the recording include Secretary Sidney Dillon Ripley of the Smithsonian Institution; Harry J. Dannals, President of the American Radio Relay League; and general operator Joseph P. Fincutter.

The Jazz Singers
Sonja Williams, Producer, Smithsonian Productions/National Museum of American History

The Smithsonian Productions' Jazz Singers series was broadcast originally on public radio stations nationwide in 2001, and it was rereleased by PRX in May 2022. With Grammy Award winning singer Al Jarreau serving as host, the series’ 13 hour-long episodes explored the history of jazz singing through the vocal artistry of a wide range of artists. In this excerpt, singers Dee Dee Bridgewater, Nancy Wilson, Shirley Horn, and others talk about some of the personal challenges that women jazz singers have had to overcome.

For more info:

Questionnaire pour Lesconil (1980), Yann Paranthoën
Annie de Saussure, Assistant Professor of French, Lafayette College

In 1975, Canadian musicologist R. Murray Schafer, known for coining the term “soundscape,” traveled to five remote locations across Europe to study how villagers relate to the sounds of their rural environments. Five years later, French radio artist Yann Paranthoën traveled to the fishing village of Lesconil, Brittany, one of the towns selected for Schafer’s study, and played translations of Schafer’s findings for villagers to hear, allowing them the opportunity to respond. Questionnaire pour Lesconil, winner of the Prix d’Italia award for radio documentary in 1980, blends these diverse sonic elements, in addition to the sounds of the harbor, the natural environment, and the French, Breton, and English languages, and paints a sonic portrait of the Lesconil soundscape as it is lived and understood by its community members.

For more info:

Bo Dollis and the Mardi Gras Indian Band at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
(circa early 1970s)
Melissa A. Weber, Curator, Hogan Archive of New Orleans Music and New Orleans Jazz, Tulane University Special Collections (TUSC)

This live New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival performance by “Bo Dollis and the Mardi Gras Indian Band,” as introduced by festival co-founding staffer Quint Davis, features Big Chief Bo Dollis, likely joined on stage by his Wild Magnolias tribe (serving as background vocalists and percussionists), the first Mardi Gras Indians (or Black Masking Indians of Black New Orleans) to release a commercially distributed, pop music recording. The accompanying band features musicians Julius Farmer on bass, The Meters’ Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste on drums, and bandleader Willie Tee on piano. Digitized from a 3-inch sound tape reel from the Allison Miner papers (HJA-039) at TUSC, the recording can be accessed online via the Tulane University Libraries online exhibit, “Music IS the Scene”: Jazz Fest’s First Decade, 1970-1979.

For more info:

Dr. Daddy-O introduces Jivin’ with Jax, WWEZ AM New Orleans
(circa 1950s)
Melissa A. Weber, Curator, Hogan Archive of New Orleans Music and New Orleans Jazz, Tulane University Special Collections

Excerpts from the Vernon “Dr. Daddy-O” Winslow collection (HJA-055) at TUSC feature the on-air work of Dr. Daddy-O, the first Black radio disc jockey on New Orleans airwaves. Jivin' with Jax, sponsored by New Orleans' Jackson Brewery beer company (aka Jax Beer), would become the first full-length radio program in New Orleans to feature a Black DJ and specifically cater to and develop a Black listenership. Selected recordings were digitized from 78 RPM discs with funding from a GRAMMY Museum® grant, and the digitized collection is accessible online via the Tulane University Digital Library.

For more info:

The Peter Rabbit News Service: Sniffy Skunk
Mary Myers, Regent University

From the mind of the ‘Hoosier Schoolmaster of the Air,’ Clarence ‘Doc’ Morgan of the Indiana State Teachers College.

Albert Warner on CBS: "Discuss moving Japanese and Nisei out of critical areas"
John Vallier, University of Washington

From the Milo Ryan Phonoarchive.

For more info:

Over the Horizon
Dr. Sebastiane Hegarty, Sound Artist & Senior Lecturer in the Department of Art and Music, Solent University, UK

Composed soundscape with test signals, based on field-recordings made during three covert residencies and micro-FM transmissions at Marconi’s Lizard Wireless Telegraphy Station (Cornwall, 2017), the Niton Station at Knowles Farm (Isle of Wight, 2021) and Fog Signal Building close to ‘Marconi’s Radio Shed’ (Dungeness, 2019). The horizon opens with the acoustic beacon of the Lizard Foghorn and Dungeness siren sounding out place and providing a locational fix.  Travelling through air, time and substance, sound unveils a spectral landscape, where the geological chit-chat of tapping pebbles repeats Marconi’s test signal “S". Tapping away at matter, this litho-telegraphy interrogates landscapes littered with the architectural ghosts of listening and communication.

For more info:

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