WYSO gets $5M to preserve Black college radio archives at 29 HBCUs

A $5 million grant to a Yellow Springs-based public radio station will fund the preservation of radio material for every Historically Black College or University that has a radio station in the country.

WYSO has been awarded major funding from the Mellon Foundation to support The HBCU Radio Preservation Project, according to WYSO. A collaboration between the WYSO Archives and the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC), supports radio stations at HBCUs throughout the country in preserving their legacies and cultural heritage, a statement from the station said Monday.

Of 104 HBCUs in the United States, 29 have active radio stations. The money will allow WYSO’s HBCU Preservation Project to expand to all 29 HBCU radio stations and their campus archives or libraries.

“This is sacred work,” says Jocelyn Robinson, the project’s founding director and the director of radio preservation and archives at WYSO. “And now we can help every HBCU station save precious primary recordings and other historical source materials that document the diversity of the Black experience. And we’re not just preventing the loss of invaluable historical records — we’re encouraging institutions in developing a culture and practice of preservation. That will ensure they never face the looming preservation crisis this project was created to prevent.”

A collection of reformatted historical HBCU radio material will available at the American Archive of Public Broadcasting along with an oral history collection that will be housed at Jackson State University’s Margaret Walker Center.

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