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Bay Area Radio Museum's Uncertain Future

Bay Area Radio Museum
Bay Area Radio Museum

I think it’s extremely important to honor radio’s history, so I’m always impressed when there are folks out there who are actively working to support that cause.

The Bay Area Radio Museum has been a labor of love for its Executive Director David Ferrell Jackson for the past 5 years. This online museum is an amazing place to learn about the history of radio in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can check out profiles of DJs from days gone by, peruse station histories, and look at vintage photos. Previously there were also links to old airchecks, but due to the high cost of bandwidth, Jackson has decided to scale back until he obtains outside help.

As Ben Fong-Torres reported in his “Radio Waves” column in the San Francisco Chronicle today, Jackson will continue to maintain the website, but has taken down media-rich material (like audio archives):

“Beyond volunteers – ideally skilled radio and broadcasting students at local schools – Jackson wishes the museum could attract a chief executive officer ‘to run it and get volunteers and financial help.’ And, he said, to develop a plan ‘to assure that these recordings, photographs and documents will be collected, stored and displayed in a manner befitting a world-class media museum.'”

In addition to the online museum, Jackson also spearheaded the “Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame,” whose most recent inductees were honored at a ceremony on September 29th.

It’s sad to think that this might be a sign of radio’s decreasing relevance to not only listeners, but also to museums, funders, and cultural institutions. I’m hopeful that someone will step up (another museum? a broadcasting-oriented university’s library?) to help out so that this history is properly preserved. With such a rich history, the San Francisco Bay Area deserves a Radio Museum.

But I guess the question remains: if it opens (even online), will people come?

For those of us who do care about radio, it’s important to support efforts like this; so I’d encourage you to take a look around the museum and see how you can help.

My dream is that the museum will survive and that it will expand into non-commercial territory, doing more extensive profiles of some of the amazing college, community, low-power, pirate and public radio stations that are also on our jam-packed radio dial in the San Francisco Bay Area.


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