This Way Out Radio (1988- ): Preserving an LGBTQ Collection from Closets and Collectives
What began as an idea at the March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights in 1979 took nine years until This Way Out: The International LGBTQ radio magazine debuted on the air on April 1, 1988 on the National Public Radio satellite. Thirty-four years and 1774 programs later, the opportunity to preserve and make the collection accessible for research comes thanks to the Radio Preservation Task Force’s Sound Submissions program under the direction of Josh Shepperd.
This Way Out’s stalwart producers, Lucia Chappelle and Greg Gordon, have worked through the development of radio production from reel-to-reel tape edited with razor blades to today’s digital world. Consequently, the collection reflects that technical evolution, divided between reel-to-reel tapes (1988-2000) held in the Pacifica Radio Archives on-site, off-site storage facilities, and digital files (2000-current), on various digital storage devices from Jaz discs to external hard drives sequestered in producer's closets.
The reel-to-reel tape collection exists because the producers had the foresight to secure the tapes in the Pacifica Program Service/Pacifica Radio Archives for safekeeping and distribution via Pacifica’s affiliate satellite system. Changing production procedures of the digital age made it challenging to keep the programs archived when there were no established standards.
The preservation of the collection begins with phase one: attention to the “born digital” programs. Ironically this presents more challenges than the reel-to-reel tapes — retrieving the content from the obsolete Jaz discs and multiple hard drives.
The weekly newsmagazine, which explores contemporary LGBTQ issues as well as important past events in the queer rights movement, has been selected as one of the first-year collections for the Library of Congress’ Sound Submissions, a digital humanities program in the Recorded Sound Section of the Library’s National Audio-Visual Conservation Center (NAVCC). Sound Submissions establishes a curatorial team to facilitate donations of digitized recordings and associated metadata for ingestion into the Library’s permanent digital archive.
Audio clip: The earliest digitized program of This Way Out from June 22, 1991, produced by Greg Gordon and Lucia Chapelle. Opening introduction and first story of Newswrap with Cindy Friedman and Mark Saccomano. One of seventeen digitized programs from the reel-to-reel period (1988-2000).