New York Public Radio Archives Receives $2.5 Million Grant From the Leon Levy Foundation for the Preservation of WNYC and WQXR Archival Collections
Grant Will Jumpstart the Digitization of Nearly 100 Years of Programming and Facilitate Public Access to Important Historical Audio and Records
(New York, NY — February 24, 2020) — New York Public Radio today announced a $2.5 million grant from the Leon Levy Foundation to support the preservation of nearly 100 years of crucial archival WNYC and WQXR assets. The grant will help transform the New York Public Radio digital infrastructure and facilitate greater public access to the historic materials.
WNYC and WQXR are two of New York City’s oldest and most vibrant media properties. Together, they have captured the sounds and substance of New York City for decades. WNYC’s archive of historic coverage includes the first public announcement of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit to New York after he received the Nobel Peace Prize. WQXR has recorded countless live performances from Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Opera, and the New York Philharmonic.
Since its founding in 2000, the NYPR Archives has preserved 5,000 broadcasts and made them publicly accessible online. Yet there remain thousands of hours of audio that have yet to be digitized, including decades of recordings in multiple, obsolete formats, such as deteriorating lacquer disc and tape. To date, NYPR has digitized approximately one third of its archive, which leaves over 45,000 vulnerable assets—the majority from 1937-2007—in need of conversion. The Archives team has set a goal of completing the digital preservation of these assets by the end of WNYC’s Centennial year in 2024.
The Leon Levy Foundation leadership grant, along with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and other major donors, will provide vital support in upgrading and transforming the NYPR Archives through the introduction and implementation of a Media Asset Management System (MAM). This system will dramatically increase public access to important archival collections.
“The NYPR Archives is an invaluable asset, for journalists, producers, and the broader public. The collection holds tens of thousands of recorded hours of broadcasts, interviews, and performances, from the quotidian to the historic,” said Goli Sheikholeslami, President and CEO, New York Public Radio. “As WNYC approaches its Centennial and WQXR enters its 84th year, this critical project is essential in preserving our collections and content, and protecting this rich historical record. We are deeply grateful to the Leon Levy Foundation for their transformative support in bringing our archival collections into the 21st century.”
“New York Public Radio is a cherished New York City asset” said Shelby White, Founding Trustee of the Leon Levy Foundation. “We are delighted that the Leon Levy Foundation can help conserve and make available to people around the world, this amazing audio collection of the history and culture of this great city.”
“Our holdings in the NYPR Archives include more than 70,000 recordings in a variety of formats, from early lacquer and acetate discs, to reel-to-reel tapes, to digital audio tapes and compact discs” said Andy Lanset, Founder and Director of the NYPR Archives. “As media forms become obsolete, it is our priority to digitize and preserve vulnerable physical assets that are in danger of being lost, and this generous grant from the Leon Levy Foundation is moving us lightyears ahead.”
About New York Public Radio
With an urban vibrancy and a global perspective, New York Public Radio produces innovative public radio programs, podcasts, and live events that touch a passionate community of 26.5 million people monthly on air, online and in person. From its state-of-the-art studios in New York City, NYPR is reshaping radio for a new generation of listeners with groundbreaking, award-winning programs including Radiolab, On the Media, The Takeaway, Nancy, and Carnegie Hall Live, among many others. New York Public Radio includes WNYC, WQXR, WNYC Studios, Gothamist, The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, and New Jersey Public Radio. Further information about programs, podcasts, and stations may be found at www.nypublicradio.org.
About the Leon Levy Foundation
The Leon Levy Foundation, founded in 2004, is a private, not-for-profit foundation created from Leon Levy’s Estate by his wife and Founding Trustee, Shelby White. The Foundation continues Leon Levy’s philanthropic legacy and builds on his vision, supporting the preservation, understanding and expansion of knowledge in the ancient world, Arts and Humanities, Nature and Gardens, Neuroscience, Human Rights and Jewish Culture. To learn more visit: www.leonlevyfoundation.org