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Preserving the legacy of HBCU Radio

The HBCU Radio Preservation Project is dedicated to honoring and preserving the vibrant history and cultural resource that is HBCU radio.

Nearly a third of the 104 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) have radio stations, and many have been on the air for more than fifty years. Much of the material created at these stations is at risk of being lost. Magnetic tape and other obsolete formats are deteriorating, and with them the primary source material that documents the rich history and diversity of the Black experience through the Civil Rights era and beyond. Present day digital material is also at risk.

The HBCU Radio Preservation Project grew out of a 2019 survey of HBCU radio stations to assess their preservation practices and needs. We collaborated with the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) on a follow up pilot project. With the generous support of the Mellon Foundation, we are now in the implementation phase of the project, partnering over the next four years with WYSO, NEDCC, the Margaret Walker Center at Jackson State University and the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. The goals of the project are to foster an ethos of preservation at HBCU radio stations, to preserve the stations’ audio collections, and to facilitate capacity-building and sustainability through connecting and supporting the stations and the institutional archives on campus.

We will be able to serve all 29 HBCU radio stations through the project. Our replicable model will serve not only HBCUs, but ultimately any college radio station—and tribal stations, rural stations, and other public and community stations.

The implementation model has three elements:

Training and education—We will provide preservation training and workshops for campus stations, archivists and community members and also hire a fellow and intern each year of the grant cycle. Providing interns and fellows opportunities to learn from experienced professionals will help infuse new energy into the preservation and archives profession and we’ll recruit HBCU graduates for these roles

Preservation—Field archivists will collaborate with stations and campus archivists on collections assessments and follow-up field services such as inventories, reformatting, rehousing, and other preservation activities.

Public history praxis—Oral historians will interview a range of community members with ties to respective stations, including former radio staff, students, alumni and listeners to document the history of the stations. We'll also offer training in gathering oral histories and using historical audio in content creation. We will work with an advisory group to identify opportunities and connections, launch an interactive website, a podcast series, and annual symposia. Project team members will conduct frequent public presentations, as well.

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Contact us directly at hbcuradioproject@wyso.org

Images from the project in progress:


NEDCC was founded in 1973 as a non-profit devoted to the conservation and preservation of paper-based materials. Its services have since expanded to include audio reformatting, digital imaging, and preservation education and field services. NEDCC’s mission is to improve the conservation and preservation efforts of libraries, archives, historical organizations, museums, and other repositories; provide the highest quality services to institutions that lack in-house conservation/reformatting facilities or that seek specialized expertise; and provide leadership in the preservation and conservation fields.

About WYSO

Through its parent entity Miami Valley Public Media (MVPM), WYSO is the administrative hub and fiscal agent for the project on behalf of the Center for Radio Preservation and Archives. WYSO will contribute technical expertise in conducting oral histories and producing media with historical audio. While the WYSO/MVPM mission is local, its vision and core beliefs speak to a greater leadership role that encompasses projects such as this.

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Our Team
Advisory Group