[Update, Jan. 27, 2018: Pop Up Archive has sadly been shuttered, although it may not be the end. Meanwhile, its content—including my collection—have migrated to the Archive.org repository.]
A fascinating project taking shape out of Oakland, Calif.: Pop Up Archive aims to become a repository for historic audio now trapped on hard drives and aging analog media — including cassettes and reel-to-reel tapes. With support from the Knight Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and in partnership with PRX (the Public Radio Exchange), it’s providing a home for interviews, raw audio and finished work saved by reporters but now gathering dust — and slowly decaying — in basements, attics and closets.
Pop Up Archive offers a Web-based interface for uploading audio files, and then it automatically transcribes the audio to text. (The transcription’s far from perfect, but it’s a fine start — and makes it possible to search the audio and play back the exact timestamped result.)
For the last several months, I’ve been helping beta-test the process, feeding raw interviews from moldy cassettes onto my computer and then uploading them to Pop Up’s servers. I have a way to go; you’ll see some of the files on my page still don’t have audio attached. But I commend the Pop Up team—including CEO Anne Wootton, a 2004 graduate of Oak Park and River Forest High School—for its efforts to save our work.
If you have raw, historic audio that shouldn’t be lost to the world, sign up, dig through those boxes, plug a cassette player into a computer and upload that great stuff onto the Web for history’s sake.
And if you’re looking for historic audio, you can search the Pop Up Archive.
As I add to the collection, I’ll keep you posted here. Today’s offering: National Lampoon founder Matty Simmons, interviewed in 1987 for WXRT-FM’s “Saturday Morning Flashback“ feature on 1970.