Media Center

Located within the Dr. Max Bodmer Library, the Media Center is described below.

There’s something “new” in the air of the AWA Media Center. It’s the sound of historic audio programs. AWA has created an audiovisual archival department to consolidate, catalog, shelve, and undertake the process of digitizing the thousands of hours of communications programs held by the Museum. Program material includes interviews of noteworthy technology pioneers, reports on historic technology, talks and presentations including slide shows, radio airchecks and more. These programs are stored on audio and photographic media including cylinders, disks, wire, tape, slides, films, CED disks, LaserDiscs, CDs, DVDs and files. Many of these storage media have begun a slow physical degradation so the AWA has begun to digitize them.

Original program material, sorted, cataloguedand shelved at the Media Center.

Donation source equipment has been identified and configured for archival file digitization. Various types of audio tape recorders are available depending on style, tape width, reel size, track configuration and speed. As tape physically deteriorates, it sometimes plays back better on one machine than another. It has also been found that both tapes and decks work better when placed horizontally, allowing gravity to assist in tracking. Due to the large number of playback machines in the AWA’s “arsenal,” placing them on tables rather than rack mounting them allows for greater versatility. Turntable playback options include a 16″ turntable with an arm-in-floor pedestal cabinet
and a newer belt-drive 12″ turntable. Selectable phono equalization for pre-RIAA disks is provided by a tube phono preamp rebuilt by an AWA volunteer.

A high-quality external USB audio card is being used to digitize audio material using sound editing software. The focus of this digitization is preservation of the original material with minor audio restoration such as light noise reduction, compression/AGC of spoken word and click-and-pop reduction when needed. Best practices as set forth by the Library of Congress, the Association for Recorded Sound Collections and New York Public Radio archival department are used as guidelines. Audio files are saved as 16-bit, linear WAV files sampled at 44.1 KHz as well as 320 KB/s MP3 files. Files are stored in multiple locations for redundancy. Audio and video cuts are linked with their museum database records allowing for one click playback. Metadata embedded in the cut and in the database includes title, artist/interviewee, interviewer, year and source. Any accompanying paper documentation is scanned and linked to the record as well. After processing, physical media labels with barcodes are printed and attached for future reference.

A variety of playback equipment, ready to transcribe audio recordings.

The AWA is exploring ways of allowing members to access select recorded assets via the Internet as licensing allows. Criss Onan is the AWA Audiovisual Archivist.

Heard in the AV Studio

“Superior Set”

2020-01-26

The AWA holds the collection of WOR radio Engineering Director Jack Poppele.  While brief excerpts of the NYC-area station’s power increase in 1935 to 50kW exist such as this one, the AWA recently discovered a collection of 16-inch transcription disks in Poppele’s collection that contains the entire broadcast labeled “Superior Set”. 

Transcription Disks

Poppele was hired by Bamberger’s department store in Newark, NJ in 1922 to build a radio station for the company.  Poppele later built WOR-FM, WOR-TV and several other stations and became a broadcast industry leader. 

A photo essay about WOR can be seen below.

Sparkling Like A Diamond

2020-01-24

After reading of the AWA audio archival efforts in the December issue of the Journal, AWA member Craig Maier has donated a software license for Diamond Cut Audio Restoration Tools v10.6 audio restoration tools.  Maier is president of Diamond Cut Productions, Inc.:  www.diamondcut.com.

Here’s a screen shot of the software which should prove very useful in making sparkling audio restorations of the museum’s disk, wire and tape archives.

Black Gold

2020-01-24

The AWA invitation may have been “lost” but the AWA has a limited-edition vinyl recording of David Sarnoff and his wife’s 1967 fiftieth anniversary. 

Sarnoff led RCA for about its first 50 years. He maintained that he wrote a memo referred to as “Music In A Box” that first defined radio broadcasting. 

Mr. and Mrs. David Sarnoff

Net Alert

2020-01-20

The AWA recently received a donation of a CBS Radio Net Alert system. Net Alert was a system used by CBS to alert its affiliates around the country to an upcoming news bulletin. 

This particular one probably first alerted Finger Lakes residents in New York State listening to the CBS station there of the assassination of President Kennedy. 

The YouTube video below is a play-back of the alert regarding the death of JFK.

So Long Bill

2019-01-07

Former AWA Audio-video archivist and radio raconteur Bill Jaker has died. He had a long broadcast career in radio and TV.  He was also a co-author of the book “Airwaves of New York” which has become a reference for early radio stations in and around NYC. Bill left the museum several thousand broadcast-related books, records and tapes.

(Photo by Gannett Co, Inc)

No Static At All

2019-11-15

Recordings of fascinating tests in the development of FM broadcasting have been donated to the AWA. The tests were made by Major Edwin Armstrong who is credited as the developer of the wideband frequency modulation system that continues to be used by broadcasters today. Here’s a link to those test recordings: