Josh Shepperd, assistant professor of media and communication studies, was recently appointed the 2017 Sound History Fellow for the Library of Congress's National Recording Preservation Board.
Shepperd will be charged with organizing the national infrastructure for radio preservation, which includes the findings of faculty researchers representing more than 120 universities and hundreds of archives. Further, he serves as the coordinator of a board of more than 20 academic specialists who are working on the project, providing expertise in various content areas and bureaucratic functions.
About the fellowship, Shepperd notes: “Between the 1920s and 1960s, radio played a crucial national role for journalism, public forums, media activism, and of course interviews and drive-time listening. No national effort has ever attempted to preserve these recordings, and many historical events, from WWII reporting to historic baseball games, were captured by radio sound.”
“This becomes an additionally important endeavor when one considers historical experiences usually neglected among archival materials,” adds Shepperd. “Radio recordings sometimes turn out to be the only extant historical traces for specific events. So what we are up to is a national historical memory project that is focused on sound, and our goal is to expand the U.S. cultural history record to be more inclusive of local experience by mapping and mining this under-examined medium.”
Shepperd says he looks forward to working with the Library of Congress, National Public Radio, the Smithsonian, and other significant sound-based organizations to preserve this vital portion of American history.