AAPB Makes Historical Public Media Content Available to the Public

From the American Archive of Public Broadcasting — 10/27/2015

In conjunction with UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, WGBH and the Library of Congress are pleased to announce the launch of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) Online Reading Room.

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 12.31.53 PMWith contributions from more than 100 public media organizations across the country, programs that for decades have gathered dust on shelves are now available to stream on the AAPB website. This rich collection of programs dating from the 1940s to the 2010s will help tell the stories of local communities throughout the nation in the last half of the 20th century and first decade of the 21st.

Initially launched in April 2015 with 2.5 million inventory records, the AAPB website has added nearly 7,000 audiovisual streaming files of historical content from public media stations across the country.  The Library of Congress, WGBH Boston and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting have embarked on an unprecedented initiative to preserve historical public television and radio programs of the past 70 years. This extraordinary material includes national and local news and public affairs programs, local history productions that document the heritage of our varied regions and communities, and programs dealing with education, environmental issues, music, art, literature, dance, poetry, religion and even filmmaking on a local level. The project ensures that this valuable source of American social, cultural and political history and creativity will be saved and made accessible for current and future generations.

Nearly 40,000 hours comprising 68,000 digital files of historic public broadcasting content have been preserved. On the website, nearly 7,000 of these American public radio and television programs dating back to the 1940s are now accessible to the public. These audio and video materials, contributed by more than 100 public broadcasting organizations across the country, are an exciting new resource to uncover ways that common concerns over the past half century have played out on the local scene. Users are encouraged to check back often as AAPB staff continue to add more content to the website. The entire collection of 40,000 hours is available for research on location at WGBH and the Library of Congress.

“The collective archives of public media contain an unparalleled audio and video record of the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st,” said WGBH Vice Chairman Henry Becton. “These treasures of our times aren’t available elsewhere and it’s essential that we preserve them and make them available as widely as possible.”

WGBH wants to be your master control

The noncommercial Boston station is developing a new business as a centralcasting hub. Today, it’s announcing it will provide master control operations for New Hampshire Public Television. WGBH CTO Joe Igoe says his new facility has the capacity to handle 40 or more stations anywhere in the country that would like to save money by outsourcing…

Like a lot of other broadcasters in the digital age, WGBH has become adept at running multiple channels from a single master control.

Right now, it handles seven: WGBH; sister station WGBX; multicast channels The World (national feed), The World (local feed), Create and ‘GBH Kids; and Boston Kids and Family Television, a cable public access channel run by the city. It also plans on adding an eighth signal by taking over master control of WGBY, another WGBH-operated station serving Springfield, Mass.

WGBH would now like to take its multichannel expertise and its state-of-the-art facility in the Brighton section of Boston, and put them to work for other broadcasters around the country that are balking at the trouble and expense of rebuilding and continuing to operate their own master control.

Remembering “The Club”

“The Club” began on channel 44 as “Club 44.” I think it was around 1977-80.

Studio A was converted into a bar/club where each Friday night we would tape four, half-hour, back to back, “live” 30 minute segments. These featured local bands and musical acts, cooking segments, political editorials from Barney Frank, interviews with local celebs, and a variety of Boston based info segments. It was made more interesting by the audience who was served wine and beer. They roamed about standing, sometimes tripping on camera cables and generally being helpful. As the night wore on the fun increased.

Silvia Davis was the Executive Producer. She and her team did a great job coming up with fresh talent and ideas for the show. I recall Dick Cavett doing a guest host spot, as did Garrett Morris from SNL. We did segments on CB radio (all the rage at the time) and hot tubs (one night we had a 6′ wooden barrel that mostly didn’t leak all over.) There were movie, book and eatery reviews and even the odd pet segment.

Some might remember the unique innovation called “the stick”.  This was used to ID guests. During a segment, David Atwood who was the ringmaster and chief would call out, “Okay, give ’em the stick.” At which point a piece of foam core attached to a dowel would be thrust into the frame…usually in a mostly lower third position. The guest’s name was painted on the sign.  This all happened in the days before Chyron.  You will hardly ever see it done today.

I’m sure others have fond “Club” memories… Care to share?