Libraries Receives CLIR Recordings at Risk Grant for Bob Fass Collection

The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) today announced that Columbia University Libraries has been awarded a Recordings at Risk grant to support the digitization of the recently acquired Bob Fass collection.

Bob Fass, pictured here in his New York City-based WBAI studio. Courtesy of Lost Footage Films.

Columbia will preserve and provide access to almost two decades’ worth of audiotapes from the archive of groundbreaking broadcaster Bob Fass. A pioneer of “free form” radio for seven decades, Fass is best known for his late-night program Radio Unnameable. During the sixties it featured unscripted appearances by poets and musicians like Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan, and social activists like Abbie Hoffman and Timothy Leary – a forum where listeners could interact with their idols and one another. In 1968 alone, Fass broadcast live events like the “Yip In” at Grand Central Station, Columbia University student protests, and the Chicago Democratic National convention. Once digitized, these recordings will be a major resource to study mobilization of dissent via mass-media in late-twentieth century America.

Recordings at Risk is a national regranting program that supports the preservation of rare and unique audio and audiovisual content of high scholarly value. Generously funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Recordings at Risk will award a total of $2.3 million between January 2017 and April 2019.