Streams

Directed by archivist Andy Lanset, the department provides a central repository for thousands of audio recordings, photographs, memorabilia, reports, news items, program guides, institutional records, and promotional materials.

Among its holdings are more than 50,000 recordings in a variety of formats, from early lacquer and acetate discs, to reel-to-reel tapes, to digital audio tapes and compact discs.

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Recently in Archives and Preservation

So You Think It's Easy!

Monday, September 09, 2013

For the January, 1944 of the WQXR Program Guide, the station's announcers got together and wrote the following:

Have you ever thought: "I could be a radio announcer. My friends say my voice over the telephone is good"? Maybe you could--and then again maybe you couldn't. And after reading this article cooperatively written by members of the WQXR staff--maybe you wouldn't even if you could.

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Martin Scorsese and the American Underground

Friday, September 06, 2013

WNYC

Listen to a 27-year old Martin Scorsese talk about curating New York City's inaugural Movies in the Park film series, as well as his thoughts on the direction of the New American Cinema.

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Earliest Known Recording of a New York City Mayor

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

As we enter the back stretch of the current mayoral campaign, there have been a lot of competing voices for the city's top spot. For contemporary oratory, what we've heard so far has been fairly standard: frequently finding fault, at times dogmatic, often punctuated with clichés, promising the moon, but always familiar in tone. The candidate, after all, needs to look and sound appealing to win those votes.  Oddly enough, it wasn't always this way. Let's dial back the years to the earliest recording made of a New York mayoral candidate, incumbent Mayor John F. Hylan, in this abridged recreation of his Primary renomination acceptance speech from the fall of 1921. [1]

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Leona Baumgartner, Elvis, and the Fight Against Polio

Sunday, August 18, 2013

WNYC

If it's good enough for Elvis, it's good enough for you and your child - On the birthday of the city's first female Health Commissioner, we honor Dr. Leona Baumgartner and the New York City publicity campaign for the polio vaccine.

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Raymond Asserson, Sr., The Man Who Built WNYC in 1924: Speaking Truth to Power

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

As New York City's Broadcasting Supervisor, Raymond Asserson was charged with designing and building the first WNYC facility by then Commissioner for Plant and Structures, Grover A. Whalen. Generally behind the scenes in bringing WNYC to life, Asserson made his mark publicly before the House Merchant Marine Committee on March 12, 1924. Testifying on behalf of Whalen, the former Navy engineer charged that through its patents, AT&T had stymied New York City's efforts to set up a radio station and had effectively created a radio monopoly.

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Blazing Maize: Mrs. Gannon's Tamale Pie, 1947

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

WNYC

Frances Foley Gannon was described as “a brisk little woman with a smiling Irish face.” Her advice was two-fold: in her daily five minutes on air, she told mothers what foods were in season and how to use them to plan family meals.

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Happy Birthday Sylvia Porter

Monday, June 17, 2013

Listen to a 23-year-old Sylvia Porter, the inventor of the personal finance column, on WQXR's Author Meets Critics (1936). 

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The Evil in Eavesdropping

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

WNYC

Long before FISA and PRISM, New York State politicians struggled with maintaining the delicate balance between personal privacy and public safety.  

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Radio Pioneer Tommy Cowan Announces a Parade of History

Friday, May 10, 2013

Beginning as an office boy for The World, Tommy Cowan went on to be Thomas Edison’s receptionist, greeting important visitors to the inventor’s laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey. From there he was the first announcer on the air in the New York metropolitan area when WJZ Newark started broadcasting in 1921. He announced the first World Series broadcast based on descriptions phoned into him from the game, as well as covering the June, 1924 Democratic National Convention from Madison Square Garden.

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Richie Havens' Passing Recalls a 1989 WNYC Broadcast

Thursday, April 25, 2013

WNYC's Chief Concert Engineer Edward Haber recorded Richie Havens for WNYC and had this recollection.

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Listen! The 1964 World's Fair in Sound

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The 1964 World's Fair opened 50 years ago this week. In this archive joint, master builder Robert Moses, former Governor Charles Poletti and a cornucopia of others preview attractions expected at the fair. Among the featured attractions: The Pietà and a pavilion dedicated to the United Arab Republic. "We feel it's very, very important for the American people to learn more about Arab countries," Moses says.

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In Wartime '40s, America's First Taste of Rationing

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

WNYC

During World War II, rationing became not only accepted, but a symbol of patriotism for most Americans. Listen to Oscar Brand in this never-broadcast documentary on how the government —and WNYC— helped foster that sentiment.

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Holocaust Remembrance Day

Sunday, April 07, 2013

It is April 19th, 1944. Thousands of mourners silently march from a service at the Warsaw synagogue on Rivington Street to City Hall.  A few carry signs: "Save Those Jews in Poland Who Can Yet Be Saved!" and, "Three Million Polish Jews Have Been Murdered By the Nazis!"  When they arrive at the steps of City Hall, Cantor Moishe Oysher sings El Mole Rachamim, a funeral prayer for the the 40,000 Jews who died a year earlier in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

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Earliest Known Broadcast on Nazi Persecution of Jews

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The broadcast above comes from a rare shellac radio transcription disc dated March 26, 1933. The program, The News Parade, consists of several news stories, including the one above dramatizing the Nazi persecution of Jews. It's particularly notable since Adolph Hitler had only become German Chancellor on January 30th, less than two months earlier. 

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Bach to the '80s

Monday, March 25, 2013

WQXR

In the 1980s, WQXR's This is My Music featured at least 20 famous folks (from politicians to fashion models) who included a Bach piece in their all time top 4 musical pieces.

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Ms. Bella Abzug

Monday, March 18, 2013

In March, 1972, reporter Eleanor Fischer interviewed Congresswoman Bella Abzug as she was fighting to hold on to her congressional district in Manhattan encompassing, in part, the Battery, the Lower East Side, Little Italy, Chinatown, Greenwich Village and Chelsea. Representative Abzug talks about this effort to marginalize her. She also calls for pulling U.S. troops out of Vietnam, endorses Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm's campaign for the Presidency and (there may be some debate over it) lays claim to starting the honorific "Ms."

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'The Artistic and the Beautiful': Frank Lloyd Wright's Wide-Ranging Views

Monday, February 25, 2013

WNYC

In 1957, two years before his death, Frank Lloyd Wright sat down with WNYC to discuss his design philosophy, exhibiting his trademark eloquence and blistering opinions. The year of this interview marks an explosion of commissions for Wright, who by then had been practicing architecture for 70 years.

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A 'Lively' Rant on Popular Film, McCarthyism, and Genre Fiction

Friday, February 22, 2013

WNYC

The writer, critic, editor, filmmaker, television pioneer, and broadcaster Gilbert Seldes comments on censorship, a favorite topic, in this 1953 broadcast of The Lively Arts

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The Activist Tom Mooney, on Death Row, Is Pardoned

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WNYC

This dramatic live broadcast from 1939 is a seminal moment in American jurisprudence and political history: the pardon of Tom Mooney, a tireless labor activist wrongly condemned to death in 1917 for a fatal bombing, after he served 22 years in prison.

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Amiri Baraka Reads "The Revolutionary Theater"

Monday, February 18, 2013

WNYC

Amiri Baraka died January 9th after weeks of failing health. He was 79. A playwright, poet, critic and activist, Baraka was one of the most prominent and controversial African American voices in the world of American letters.  Speaking at the Overseas Press Club ( and airing on WNYC) in 1965 following the release of his Obie award-winning play The Dutchman, Baraka presented himself as a no-nonsense artist who was not about to compromise his message for anyone. The talk catches Baraka (still known as Leroi Jones) at the height of his radical voice in the 1960s and is critical because it was delivered just four days before the assassination of Malcolm X.

 

The writer and activist LeRoi Jones (who would later be known as Amiri Baraka) speaks here on February 17, 1965, four days before the assassination of Malcolm X, an event that catapulted him from a charismatic Greenwich Village maverick into a radicalized black nationalist in Harlem.

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