Media and the Movement has been working hard for several years to locate rare recordings from activist radio stations that are in need of digital reproduction. Radio recordings, particularly from noncommercial and African American stations, have generally been poorly documented and preserved. If the recordings exist at all, they’re usually on outdated formats such as reel-to-reel tapes, sitting in former radio announcers’ garages, attics, and basements. In the course of our project, we’ve come across a number of recordings that interviewees wish to preserve but can’t even listen to because they don’t own reel-to-reel players.
We’re proud to say that we’ve just completed a pilot project of digitizing our first batch of recordings, with the help of George Blood L.P., a crack outfit of audio and video engineers and preservationists based in Philadelphia.
These recordings came from WVSP, the activist radio station in Warrenton, North Carolina that we’ve written about extensively on this site. We’d like to give you a sample with an audio clip from WVSP from 1982 that shows off the station’s distinctive blend of jazz, blues, soul music, and progressive political commentary. The interview is with none other than Anne Braden, the famed activist from Louisville, Kentucky who devoted her life to the struggle for racial equality, peace, and workers’ rights from the 1950s to the 2000s. This is a world re-premiere of audio that’s been sitting for decades in the home of WVSP’s Valeria Lee, so give it a listen!