Library and Archives
Library and Archives

Broadcast: Introduction

Radio and television broadcasts focus on news and public affairs programming, primarily since the 1950s. The Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty broadcasts reached out to audiences in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. English-language broadcasts include speeches presented to the Commonwealth Club of California and William F. Buckley's Firing Line television program. The broadcasts are recorded on a variety of sound and moving image media that often present preservation challenges. As a result, access to these materials is sometimes limited and requires advance notice. For more information about access and fees for reproductions, see A/V Services.

Commonwealth Club of California
More than two thousand sound recordings of speakers addressing the Commonwealth Club of California are housed at the Hoover Archives. A searchable database contains descriptive records (title, speaker name, date) for all of them, with more extensive cataloging an ongoing process. Also available is a guide to the club's records, including program transcripts and other paper materials.

Firing Line Television Program
The broadcast archive of William F. Buckley Jr.'s television show Firing Line is housed in the Hoover Institution Archives. Firing Line was broadcast from 1966 to 1999, first as an hour-long program and later as a half-hour show. A database describing all 1,504 Firing Line programs, and a guide to the program transcripts and other paper materials, are available for searching.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Founded in the tense, early days of the Cold War, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) played the role of a surrogate free press for the nations behind the iron curtain. For more than five decades, RFE/RL has gathered, analyzed, and disseminated information in a unique way. Description and preservation of the collection continues, but several finding aids to the collection are available.

July 23, 2008

Firing Line 2-inch videotape preservation

Glue deposits on videotape

Of the fifteen hundred Firing Line episodes, more than four hundred are recorded on 2-inch quad videotape, the first and oldest broadcast-quality videotape format. These videotapes come spooled on an open reel about a foot in diameter, and each videotape in its case weighs nearly twenty pounds. Specialized videotape preservation laboratories are used to assess, treat, and transfer the content of these 2-inch videotapes to modern videotape formats, as shown in this slideshow.

Click the image to start the slideshow.

March 4, 2009

Musical ambassadors documented in Hoover’s Radio Free Europe records

Dizzy Gillespie visits the RFE studios in Munich.

Artists traveling throughout Europe in the 1960s, especially American jazz musicians, often visited with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reporters. Included in this slideshow are some notable examples, including Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, and Benny Goodman, as well as many outside the American jazz scene. (The photographs of these musical ambassadors are part of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty corporate records at the Hoover Institution Archives.)

Click the image to start the slideshow.

April 6, 2009

Lacquer disc preservation at the Hoover Archives

After selecting an item for preservation, the archives staff visually assesses the disc’s condition.

The Hoover Institution Archives holds, among its many collections, more than a thousand instantaneous lacquer discs. Predating the invention of magnetic audiotape, lacquer dics were cut by the radio broadcast industry to record programs and transmissions. These discs consist of a base material (usually aluminum or glass), a coating of nitrocellulose (lacquer), and a binder (adhesive) that holds them together. Over time, the nitrocellulose becomes brittle and the binder breaks down, making lacquer discs universally fragile. Worse, discs from the World War II era are even more delicate because aluminum was replaced by glass during the war effort. Among Hoover’s lacquer disc holdings are the planning sessions for the United Nations, recordings of the United States Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service, and the earliest recorded programs of the Commonwealth Club of California.

Click the image to start the slideshow.

June 17, 2009

Images from the Hoover Institution’s Firing Line collection

Cover of a publicity handout, 1967

William F. Buckley Jr. hosted Firing Line on television from 1966 to 1999. The show is a window on twentieth-century American culture, politics, and television; one can see such guests as Ronald Reagan, Clare Booth Luce, Barry Goldwater, Malcolm Muggeridge, David Susskind, and Hugh Hefner discuss topics as varied as liberalism, religion, Alger Hiss, feminism, and the U.S. presidency.

Click the image to start the slideshow.

August 12, 2009

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Tape Boxing Project Completed

Tapes had been stored individually on the shelves

Images of the ambitious project to box, label, and accurately count the 80,000 seven-inch open-reel audiotapes.

Click the image to start the slideshow.

May 19, 2011

Preserving the Milton Friedman Cassettes

After having been removed from its box, cassette 55 appears normal.

The Economics Cassette Series accounts for the vast majority of the audio recordings in the Milton Friedman papers. This series was a biweekly, subscription-based program that ran from 1968 to 1978. Instructional Dynamics Incorporated (IDI) produced the series, which served as a companion to Friedman's Newsweek columns of the same era. Each program contains an interview with Milton Friedman, recorded either in Chicago, Illinois, or Vermont, during which Professor Friedman comments on the economic issues of the day for approximately half and hour.

Due to their age, these cassettes are severely deteriorated. Specifically, adhesives used during manufacturing have broken down, thus leading to many problems. The first concerns the splice tape that holds the tape to the leader (the nonmagnetic, blank plastic at the beginning/end of each side). Failing adhesive on the sticky side of the splice tape is migrating to the top of the tape, making proper playback difficult. The next problem is the adhesive holding the felt pad on at the bottom of the cassette, which has often dried, loosening the pad (the key to successful playback and reproduction of all audible frequencies) from the cassette mechanism. As we strive to ensure proper preservation through digitization, we must address the aforementioned problems.

Click the image to start the slideshow.