Lazarus.FM: Can the Endangered Sounds of Detroit Be Saved?
EDITOR’S NOTE: This post, a personal essay concerning an endangered archive of radio recordings in Detroit by University of Michigan Professor Derek Vaillant, has been temporarily embargoed due to a security concern regarding a specific location discussed in the post. It will be restored as soon as possible, with additional details from the author. — Special Editor Neil Verma
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When Detroit Public TV assumed management (but not ownership) of WRCJ 90.9 FM (formerly WDTR) in summer of 2005, I, as a part-time engineering technician at DPTV, was able enter the building to perform some operations duties. Some of the photos I took there in September 2005 are on flickr album “DPS Lawton Sept 2005” –
The building shown, on Lawton Ave., housed WDTR, the DPS educational TV production studio, and, until the late 60s, WTVS Ch. 56 (Detroit Public TV).
Besides a lot of vintage radio and television equipment (much of which collectors of such would be happy to haul away), the storeroom contains a trove of kinescope (film) recordings and 2″ quadruplex videotapes dating from the late 50s and into the 60s. These contain shows produced by the long-gone Detroit Public Schools TV, and by WTVS Ch. 56 (DPTV), which had shared the Lawton building space and some facilities. While the kines, if rescued, can be viewed with 16mm projection equipment, only a few facilities in the U.S. are still capable of playing back and archiving the old monochrome quad videotapes, which are in danger of becoming landfill. At one time I made some inquiries about the material and the equipment, but nobody seemed to know of any approved method, other than the dump, of removing or repurposing it.