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Saving the Endangered Sounds of Detroit’s Radio History

From time to time, the Radio Survivor Academic Series has been pointing to noteworthy articles and posts that have been shared by other excellent sound and audio related blogs and which are connected to the Radio Preservation Task Force (RPTF).

Recently, Sounding Out! has been featuring specific archival collections that are a focus of the RPTF. Last week, Derek Vaillant, a professor at the University of Michigan, informed us that a building holding the audio and video recordings of the Detroit-based WDTR-FM will be gutted and destroyed.

His post can be read in full over on Sounding Out! but I will share a brief excerpt below. I encourage readers to visit the site and read his post, since there are only a few months before this collection, and an important part of the soundscape of Detroit and a piece of radio history, could be lost forever.

Endangered archival materials, such as those at WDTR/WCRJ can be used to describe and assess the human, cultural, and institutional ties between national public broadcasting and local affiliates, public educators, students, teachers, and media producers and community organizations. They can speak to the battles for control over educational/community stations in the late twentieth century when suburban flight, deindustrialization, neglect, corruption, and failed local, state, and Federal policies allowed Detroit and other U.S. cities to enter a catastrophic state. I believe there may likely be aural materials of interest to teachers, historians, and public intellectuals seeking to understand the unraveling of postwar Detroit’s economic and social fabric, as well as the salutary role of public media within urban neighborhoods. Historical insights can be the spark for those seeking inspiration and ideas to reinvent vibrant U.S. cities of the future.”

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