Our three-year CLIR-funded project, Broadcasting Baltimore: Digitizing Hidden Histories in the WJZ-TV Collection begins this month! We will begin to digitize videos from the WJZ-TV Collection that document the voices of underrepresented communities in Baltimore City from 1977-2000. In the next three years, we will digitize 1000 hours.

The first tapes we are digitizing for the project is WJZ’s series, “City Line.” It was a public affairs television program with topics centered around Baltimore City’s Black community, and had a Black cast and crew. First broadcasting in 1982, “City Line” aired weekly on Sunday afternoons typically for one-hour long (occasionally holding 90-minute specials). The hosts were Jaki Hall and B.T. Bently.

The bulk of this series that exists in the collection are of masters, edited masters, and dubs of the show, ranging in date from approximately 1982-1989. The show covered all types of topics. They interviewed political candidates for the 7th Congressional District in 1986, and a Dunbar Middle School teacher and poet, Rita Townsend Crews, in 1987. Watch a 1984 promo for the program below.

We’ve spent our summer preparing for the project. That includes sending equipment out for maintenance and repairs, such as our U-matic deck, Betacam deck, S-VHS deck, time base corrector, and a waveform scope. We also purchased more equipment and supplies to have as a backup. We physically organized the collection and rehoused a lot of the tapes into new boxes (see images below). We are also adding and making improvements across digital platforms (ArchivesSpace, Aviary, Internet Archive, and Digital Maryland) to make our metadata more consistent and efficient to update, which will translate to increased access and discoverability.

The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning. To learn more, visit www.clir.org and follow CLIR on Facebook and Twitter.

This blog post was written by Joana Stillwell, MARMIA’s AV Archivist. A portion of this post was adapted from a previous blog post by Siobhan Hagan, MARMIA’s CEO and Founder.