September 5, 2017
Historic preservation is about maintaining a record of human history and those who have come before us, and that doesn’t just mean buildings. Film, tape, and other analog media mediums are not going to last forever and there are only a few people out there who understand the potential threat of losing countless hours of recorded information. And have the technical skill, the energy, and the passion to do something about it. Fortunately for us, Siobhan Hagan is one of those people, and she joined Nick to talk about the work she does with her non-profit, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Moving Images Archive, including digitizing the WJZ local news archive. You can learn more here. Fire up the projector and turn down the lights, this is PreserveCast.
[Nick Redding] Preservation of buildings is vital but human beings leave behind records of their lives in a wide variety of ways. One major way that we learn about the twentieth century’s history is through audio and video. But physical media does not last forever and the shelf-life for tape and other mediums is shorter than we’d like to think. Thankfully, there are people like Siobhan Hagan, the founder of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Moving Images Archive, or M.A.R.M.I.A., who’s seen the danger of deteriorating media and are doing something about it. Join us as we head back to the Analog Age on this week’s PreserveCast.
From the Preservation Maryland Studios in the historic podcast district of Baltimore, this is PreserveCast.
[Nick Redding] This is Nick Redding and you’re listening to PreserveCast. Today we are joined in-studio by Siobhan Hagan who was born and raised in Maryland and holds her Masters in Moving Image Archiving and Preservation from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. And among many things, she founded M.A.R.M.I.A in June of 2016, which acquired the WJZ TV collection in May of 2017. So she’s here today to talk with us about all things archiving, preservation, and how to save the best of all of our digital and pre-digital analog of moving images and all the good stuff that goes along with that. We have a lot of questions for you, not the least of which is what is M.A.R.M.I.A. But, Siobhan, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your path to preservation? How you got involved with this work, who you are, where you came from and what you’re doing today?
[Siobhan Hagan] Sure. Thank you so much for having me here today. So I started off growing up in Maryland and I wanted to be a filmmaker actually, and I wanted to get out. I wanted to see the world, so I got accepted to a film school out in Los Angeles, which seemed like the best place to go for filmmaking. And I went and got my B.A. in Film and TV Production from Loyola Marymount University. And then I graduated and worked in the entertainment industry for a few months and I – it just wasn’t the right fit. I actually missed the East Coast a lot. I missed Maryland a lot. Didn’t know that that was going to happen. And then I got into graduate school at NYU, which was always a dream of mine to live in New York. So I went to NYUs Moving Image Archiving and Preservation program, which is a two-year MA program. And Moving Image Archiving and Preservation – I say it so quickly because we use those terms so often – but basically it’s where you learn all about archiving overall, the idea of the profession, and the work of archiving, and archivists. But then also you learn specifically more about moving image technology. So that’s movies, film, video, but then also recording sound technology, so every type of audio and video format, which I why I do like to typically use the word audio-visual because it covers pretty much everything.
[NR] So you’re very comfortable in the podcasting studio right now.
[SH] Yes, I am. Yeah.
[NR] You’re at home amongst the microphones and –
[SH] Normally I’m the one behind the computer, but –
[NR] Yeah, watching everything. Okay.
[SH] Yes, not the one in front of the microphone. So I have a production background, but also just for fun in college, I got a history minor. It was just interesting and I ended up doing a historical documentary for my final film in film school on –
[NR] What was that on?
[SH] It was this restaurant called Gabrielle’s Inn out where my parents live now in Fredrick, Maryland, so.
[SH] Actually, it’s Ijamesville, Maryland. It’s this big old house, but they turned it into a restaurant – for years when I was there growing up in high school – called Gabriel’s Inn. And it was delicious. We would go all the time. It was less than a mile away from our house, which not many things were especially at that time. And then it’s just a beautiful 1850s,1860s house and just acres and acres of land. It used to be a women’s sanitarium, so there was a doctor that worked there for years; and, there were stories about ghosts and Civil War.
[NR] So is it still standing? This sounds like it’s a sad story. It was. There’s a lot of good ones.
[SH] No. I mean it’s still standing.
[NR] Oh, okay.
[SH] But the couple that owned it, they sold it.
[SH] And then I’m not sure exactly what it is now. It might be privately owned but…
[NR] So it was your first documentary?
[SH] Yeah. Yeah.
[NR] First, and not last hopefully.
[SH] Well, I am working on another one.
[SH] It’s not necessarily mine. That was my first, and it was so much fun. But it definitely made me realize how expensive and involved making… I mean that was a 13-minute documentary, I believe, and I used mostly my family members and friends as crew. And it made me realize that really my passion… Even though I love telling stories [and] that mostly the stories I love to tell are in the past or from the past[…] Once I learned about how dire the actual technology… It is dire that we do this now, that we transfer this and preserve this now. That really got me kind of motivated – more than motivated – just ready to start doing this kind of work.
[NR] So what are you doing now? You sort of have a laundry list in your bio of –
[SH] Yes [laughter].
[NR] – cool things that you’re working on.
[SH] So currently I am the President and CEO of M.A.R.M.I.A, which stands for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Moving Image Archive. The archival profession has a lot of jargon as well as acronyms, so I felt like I really needed to come up with a good one.
[NR] Your own acronym.
[SH] Yeah, and M.A.R.M.I.A just felt right. We founded that in 2016. And I say we because we have a board. But mostly it started out from looking at other models across the United States for regional moving image archives. So the Northeast has Northeast Historic Film Archive, which was actually I’m pretty sure the first regional moving image archive in the United States. I believe they opened in 1986. And then there are a few other places. Texas has one, Texas Archive of the Moving Image. California has an interesting model.
[NR] Now, are these all non-profits?
[SH] They are non-profits. Yes.
[NR] But do you license the material that you have or does it just across the board?
[SH] Potentially. Yes. Yes.
[NR] It depends.
[SH] It definitely depends.
[NR] Is some of it under creative commons, so that people can – anybody can reuse, or?
[SH] Yeah. So it’s definitely different across those different institutions. For M.A.R.M.I.A, we plan on making things as ascessible as possible as far as streaming goes. So we put everything up on the Internet archive.
[NR] So anybody can see it, but not download it.
[SH] Well, right now, you can and we would potentially put… Our plan is to have lower resolution copies up there for people to download and kind of edit into any kind of– something they want to put on the web that’s not for profit as well and is for educational purposes.
[NR] You want to make a funny GIF, your.
[SH] Yeah. Or like you’re making a video for your mom’s birthday and you want to put in the news from the day that she was born or something like that.
[NR] That kind of leads to the question of what content do you have? So I mentioned that you acquired the WJZ collection. For someone listening outside of Maryland, what is that?
[SH] Yes. So the WJZ collection, actually WJZ is a local television station here in Baltimore City, but that gets broadcasted out throughout Maryland, potentially reaches parts of D. C. and Virginia, Northern Virginia, even Delaware, I think, and Pennsylvania. So it does get – it has been broadcasted out. But it is the collection that we acquired from the station is content that the station made over the many years of it working as a station. So we all, I think, have an idea of what local news looks like. But there was a time where local television stations, they had a lot more resources, there was a lot more of a mandate from the FCC and from the government to have local content that was broadcast on the air to balance out the stuff that they were getting from their parent networks, from New York typically. So there was just a lot more local shows that were being produced. I think a lot of people will remember once they start looking at the shows that we have in our collection.
[NR] So this isn’t just the news. These are sort of the ancillary shows that go with it too.
[NR] That’s the kids’ morning shows and stuff.
[SH] Right. And there’s a lot of kids’ debate shows as well. Debate shows and game shows were always the cheapest way that local –
[NR] It’s Academic. Was that one of theirs?
[SH] It’s Academic, yes. And we do have some of that, mostly from the 80’s. The bulk of our collection, overall, is from the mid- to late-1970s through to the year 2000.
[NR] So now, why would WJZ give this to you? They didn’t want to put it up themselves and license the content? It was just too much work?
[SH] It’s very large. It’s a very large collection. It’s 25,000 items at least.
[NR] How much time if you were to add all that up? Do you know how many hours?
[SH] It’s tough to say because a VHS tape can hold anywhere from 30 seconds to 8 hours or whatever. So typically, I would say that the ones that we have hold about two hours. I think that that’s probably a good average –
[NR] Do you have any ballpark for how much time you have on your hands?
[SH] I know I crunched the numbers at one point and it was just sort of too much to think about in that. But I like to think more of as items. It’s also easier to count that way because the main problem with video, and that’s the bulk of the collection is video, is it’s not like a film, where film, you can hold it up to the light and you can see an image. And you can see if there’s a soundtrack on the side. With video, it’s just a magnetic tape.
[NR] So you got to pop it in and see what you got?
[SH] Yes. So you have to have the –
[NR] So there can be surprises too?
[SH] – playback deck. There are wonderful surprises.
[NR] Like somebody copied over something.
[SH] I love video. Exactly. So you could have a little snippet, a commercial that someone didn’t think was really that important but just happened to make it on the end that then means a lot now 50 years later. It can tell us about advertising. It can tell us about what people were buying locally, what the station was doing.
[NR] So what is M.A.R.M.I.A.’s role in this? And I guess in a broader sense, what is M.A.R.M.I.A.’s mission? Are you the people that are actually taking it from video to digital?
[SH] Yes. So our official mission is the preservation and access of moving images and recorded sounds in the mid-Atlantic region. It covers a lot.
[NR] Big charge.
[SH] Yes. Yes. But mainly, the thing was that I saw when I was in graduate school, and coming home, and trying to get internships in Maryland. I was seeing that there was a lot of content out there at the Maryland Historical Society, University of Baltimore, places all over the state as well.
[NR] We even have content.
[SH] Yes, exactly.
[NR] That we don’t what to do with it.
[SH] Yeah. And that’s the general consensus. People have stuff. They don’t know what to do with it. So I saw that there weren’t many people stepping in saying, “Here, let me help.” Because it’s a very niche kind of subject matter. So I thought, “Okay. Well, hey, let me try.” But the main thing was I got a job out back in California and then eventually made my way back to the East Coast, and then was able to slowly start M.A.R.M.I.A as non-profit. It’s really hard to start a non-profit, F.Y.I. So then [we got] that started and then with the acquisition of the WJZ collection, which was formerly at the University of Baltimore, but they gave that back to the station. And then I heard about that and I reached out to the station and said, “Hey, we’re new and we would love to talk to you about how we can help you take care of this,” because they don’t have the space anymore for these materials.
[NR] Just physically don’t have the space to hold them because it’s a lot.
[SH] Exactly. It is a lot.
[NR] So is it in your garage? Where did you put it?
[SH] No [laughter]. We do not have a large enough garage for this. So we worked out a relationship and partnership with the Maryland State Archives, which manages the Baltimore City Archives. So we are storing the collection at the City Archives, also luckily, three minutes away from my house. So it’s in the city, it’s in Waverly, actually, and it’s safe. And we’re also building two workstations there so that we can inspect and treat motion picture film, which isn’t the majority of the collection at all but is the earliest stuff. So there is some 1950s and 1960s footage on film that we can inspect and, basically, see what it is and then fix splices and prep it to send it to a vendor for digitization. And then the bulk of the collection is also stored there and we’re raising money right now doing an Indiegogo non-profit fundraiser to raise money to build a video digitization rack, where we can digitize three different– actually, four different – types of video formats because there are many, many different types. But the bulk of the collection is U-matic, which was the first video cassette tape that really hit the market and that was used by local news stations. And then VHS, I think, that hopefully, probably everyone has had experience with. And then also Betacam. So those three will be up and running once we complete the fundraiser, which we’re still chugging along on.
[NR] Well, it’s a good point, and maybe a good moment to take a quick break and then come back and we’ll talk a little bit about, specifically, what it is you’re raising the money to do, and what it is that you’ll actually be doing at these workstations. How that process works and what you’re hoping to accomplish. And we can do all that when we come back right here on PreserveCast.
And now it’s time for our Preservation Explanation
[Stephen Israel] All this talk of film and tape [has] got my mind reeling. Wait a minute. Reeling? Film? That’s it. We’ve got to talk about some movie theater history. It’s hard to fully grasp it today in the age of prestige television, but in the first half of the twentieth century, movie theaters were a centerpiece of American life. During the 1930s, weekly cinema attendance was around 80 million people or nearly two-thirds of the country’s population. By the year 2000, for example, that number had shrunk to around 27 million, just under ten percent of the population. And increased attendance wasn’t the only difference about movie theaters at the time. You see, back then, they were truly movie theaters. Many locations were, in fact, converted opera houses, like the still standing Elkton Opera House, or other community meeting centers, like the Church Hill Theater in Queen Anne’s County. And some of the larger theaters that were built during the Golden Age of movies, such as the Stanley Theater in Baltimore, were grand structures. That particular 3,000-seat theater featured a facade with massive Roman-style columns and windows in a bizarre mix of the modern luxury of cinema and the architectural splendor of the past.
In many cases today, you can only see windows like that in photographs, including the Stanley Theater’s as the building was torn down in the 1960s and the property now serves as a parking lot. And the Stanley is, unfortunately, not alone in that regard. Baltimore was home to dozens of theaters that have now been torn down or converted and renovated so many times, the original building is hardly there at all. One more positive example of that is the Everyman Theater, which today is the same 1911 building that housed the Empire Theater, which was later known as The Palace. But between occupants, the building was gutted and spent 10 years as a parking garage.
Still, some theaters have persisted. The Senator Theater on the northern side of town, with its Art Deco exterior of glass, limestone, and lights, designed by the architect John Zink, definitely comes to mind. And of course, further downtown is The Charles Theater, which continues to show independent and art films in the over 100-year-old structure to this day. And of course, there are many other places we could mention but I’m running out of tape. And you all need to get back to PreserveCast.
You have questions? We may have answers. If at any point during this podcast you thought of a question that you have for us or maybe one of our guests, we’d love to hear about it. You can send an email to email@example.com and we’ll try and answer it right here on-the-air on the next episode of PreserveCast.
[NR] This is Nick Redding, you’re listening to PreserveCast. I’m joined today in studio by Siobhan Hagan, who is a archivist par excellence, and she is working on a bunch of really great projects here in Maryland. In particular, one with M.A.R.M.I.A, which is a group that she founded and is now the CEO and president of. And we’re talking with her about what they’re working on with the WJZ collection in Baltimore City, which is where it’s stored currently. And they’re raising money – M.A.R.M.I.A is – right now. And Siobhan’s leading that to try and put together workstations at the archives to actually start digitizing, I guess, or prepping this material. So why don’t you take us through that? So you get a dusty, old VHS video off the shelf, what happens? What is it that you’re doing? And then how does it go from that to me going online and being able to download it or take a look at it.
[SH] Yeah. Sure. And there’s even work, I would say, before that too. Let’s say, I’ve gotten a reference request from someone – and I do frequently – where they’re looking for footage of a specific place or a specific time. For example, Three Mile Island from 1979, that is one that I recently got in. And notice that’s not Baltimore City so the WJZ collection covers a lot of the Mid-Atlantic region and also the nation. I mean –
[NR] And just national events as well.
[SH] Yeah. They have their national news and they have local news that they covered. So I get that request in and we have inventories, basically, that has been transcribed what was on the label of the tape. So ideally, that would be the date of the news broadcast or any other kind of significant content. And you’re kinda trusting the label, but for the most part, what we’ve seen is the labels are trustworthy for this collection. So that’s a huge part, being able to – that’s what we call the intellectual control over the collection. So people being able to search what’s not even digitized yet so then we can kind of prioritize figuring out… Because that scary number that I calculated that I have obviously pushed out off my brain of how many hours of footage… we have to prioritize preservation because otherwise, we’re going to lose the most –
[NR] So is the oldest stuff in the most danger?
[SH] No, actually. So the oldest stuff was shot on film, 16-millimeter film. And most of that, if you store it in proper containers and in the proper storage environment, then the film can last potentially for hundreds of years. But video on the other hand – which the first video format was introduced in 1956 – it was two-inch quad. There is some two-inch quad in the collection, that’s the first preservation priority because it’s video, which is not a stable medium. We only have a few more years left as far as the physical tape itself is going to last. But then also, you have to think about that equipment, the decks that you have to put these tapes on.
[NR] Those are falling apart too.
[SH] You have to maintain those. And two-inch quad “decks,” which, actually, they are the size of a refrigerator, they have not been manufactured in decades. So you have to have someone with the expertise that knows how to digitize. And then you have to have the equipment that works properly. And then you have to hope that the tape is in good enough condition.
[NR] So this isn’t cheap?
[SH] This is not cheap.
[NR] How much money are you trying to raise?
[SH] We’re trying to raise $14,000.
[NR] Which is just a minor down payment, I would imagine, right? What does that get you?
[SH] Yeah. So that gets us that in-house digitization video rack. That gets that built because we already have most of the stuff already that we need. So we get that built and then also that would pay for time for digitization using that rack to digitize 100 more hours of the collection. So that’s sort of our first intro. And our preservation priority on that end is the U-matics from the 1970s because that – we can do that in-house. It doesn’t require that big refrigerator.
[NR] You have to send that out I guess.
[SH] Yes. And luckily, those were sent out by the University of Baltimore before they deaccessioned the collection. So luckily, we’ll be getting those soon and should be putting those up online on the Internet archive.
[NR] That’s exciting.
[SH] Yeah. And so those a real grab bag, who knows what’s on them. Many of them aren’t even labeled. It just sort of says “WJZ.”
[NR] So now, you get it to digital. Are you worried about how you maintain it once it digital?
[SH] Right. So you pull the tape off the shelf and you run it through the rack, which is very intense. There’s a technical process to get the signal as appropriately analogous to the analog signal and then converting that into ones and zeros, into the digital realm. That, in it of itself, does take some money and some expertise. And then from there, you have this large file because you want to have a large resolution file, ideally uncompressed, 10-bit MOV, somewhere along that realm. And that can be 100 gigabytes per hour.
[NR] So where do you store all this? You’re doing it all on the cloud?
[SH] Right now, what we have done previously, the models that we’ve looked at and when I worked at the University of Baltimore I followed we put them up on the Internet Archive because the Internet Archive has a project that has to do with television news. They’ve been collecting from various regions, local TV news. There was a woman in Philadelphia that recorded thousands of hours of local news, different channels, for years of her life. So the Marion Stokes collection that they’ve started digitizing and putting up. So they have this mandate and they recognize the importance. So they’ve given us free storage to upload these uncompressed 10bit MOVs, which also just takes a while to do that. And then they do have multiple servers that that gets stored on, they do automatically create two other different types of files from the file that you upload and then they automatically generate checksums which are basically just this algorithm that figures out the fingerprint of a file. And that’s how you can kind of see if something happened to the file in its lifespan because things do happen to files. So those ones and zeros do sometimes flip from a zero to a one for no reason other than just time or moving a file many times can corrupt it. And I think everyone has probably had a file become corrupted or change where they haven’t been able to access it. Then you also have the problem of the fact that there is still a physical component of where you store these digital files.
[NR] And are you storing them yourself as well?
[SH] So we’re not currently. Our plan, which this is not part of the 14,000. So the $14,000 is initially just – we have to start digitizing this collection again immediately because the profession has overall agreed that 2028 is when we reach this time period for magnetic tapes – so video and audio mostly – where it is no longer going to be cost effective to digitize any kind of mass amount of video. It’s going to –
[NR] Wow. That’s really soon.
[SH] That’s really soon. Yeah.
[NR] You’re scaring everyone at home who has home videos.
[SH] Good. Yeah. Well yeah, get them digitized. It’s really important.
[NR] I am going to ask you in a second when you conclude with this thought though about what people at home can do with their –
[SH] Yes. Yes.
[NR] – their personal stuff. Because you’re working on this massive collection but the memories that –
[SH] We also have home movies too.
[NR] Yeah. Home movies are just as important. So you guys are working on that, you’re going to store it. Where are you going to end up? So you start in the cloud–
[SH] So our plan, we’re going to start with the Internet Archive because it’s a great free start but then our plan is to outsource this. There’s a recent company that started called Digital Bedrock, which is what we plan to use where they specifically focus on audiovisual materials. There’s a certain level that we can get there where there are three copies, they’re geographically dispersed, they’re on LTO tapes and there is a more in-depth level of file integrity checking. So those checksums, fingerprints I talked about, they do a lot.
[NR] So it sounds to me like it’s just almost – once you make the jump from analog to digital it’s still just as difficult to preserve the digital file.
[NR] You’ve just created a new file that you have to worry about.
[SH] Exactly. Yes [laughter]. And we don’t throw out the originals either. So we still –
[NR] Just in case some day there is a way to pull the data. So you’re like an archaeologist! You don’t destroy the site.
[SH] Yes, exactly. The biggest thing is resources, sustainability. It’s not just once. You can’t store and ignore. That’s a typical thing that we say and I forget exactly who said this, but I know it’s been frequently said in the profession that “digital preservation is people.” It doesn’t happen on its own. It’s something that we have to plan for, that we have to regularly monitor, and that we have to do ourselves.
[NR] Yeah. And that we have to fund as well.
[SH] Yeah. And we’re working on that as an organization on our own. Trying to figure out how do we preserve generations of this organization. We were started back in 1931, have preserved paper documents really well. But we of the past 15 years, have just been generating all digital. So what do we with that? And one of the biggest things that we generate, like any organization or any company, is e-mails. So we’re actually going to be giving our – we’ve actually already done it. We’re giving our server to our archive, which is at the University of Maryland. And there’s a time limit before it could be opened up because we don’t want to expose any funny emails from recent memory. But in 30 or 40 years, that will then become publicly accessible so that all of our e-mails will be there so you can kind of come back and see how the organization worked. Because we can go back and look at letters but all the digital stuff is really hard to preserve. And it’s the first server that they’ve received at UMD to sort of take a look at how they do this.
[SH] Oh wow.
[NR] So there’s not a whole lot of organizations out there thinking about it. But when you think about the amount of content that is on an e-mail server or that is generated that way versus letters, I mean, it pales in comparison. I write hundreds of e-mails a day, maybe one letter.
[SH] And think about how many videos and photos you have on your phone. That, in and of itself, figuring out what you want to keep and where you’re gonna store it, because videos are also ten times as big as an e-mail but we are taking just as many almost.
[NR] If not, more. So that leads me to the question I posed a little bit there before, which is if you’re an individual listening to this and you have videos. What would you recommend that a person does? Do they go to Costco and send them off to be digitized? Is that a good way of handling? What would you recommend?
[SH] Yeah. So if you have film sitting in your nicely temperature-controlled closet or videos, some VHS, I know eight-millimeter as well, like High 8. A lot of my home movies from my childhood were on that format. So those “analog” formats, I recommend that you get them digitized mostly to view them. They’re meant to be viewed. And I also recommend if you have a family member who’s still living that either took them or are in the videos, in the films, that you record audio with them. Sit down, watch the home movies, and then record audio with them telling who’s who, where things are –
[NR] So you know who these people are.
[SH] Yeah. It’s a really fun thing to do with a relative as well, especially an aging relative. But then also, you’ll learn a lot of information that then you won’t have–
[NR] So you should send it out to get it digitized though? You would recommend finding a qualified–
[NR] is there any list of contractors or -?
[SH] Right. So don’t put your film in a projector that hasn’t been run or maintained, or you want to have someone who knows what they’re doing with a piece of machinery that isn’t going to damage the object.
[NR] Or combust.
[SH] Yeah. But luckily, home movies aren’t on nitrate. So we don’t have to deal with that. But basically, it’s going to be best to have a professional do it. M.A.R.M.I.A. does do that.
[NR] For a fee? You can send something to you guys?
[SH] We do. Yeah. We try to work with the individual organization as well, so local organizations. That’s the main thing that we also want to use our video digitization rack for. We don’t do film in-house yet, but we really want to grow to do that. So you could send your film and we can take a look at it. We can put it on our film bench and safely take a look at it, see what condition it’s in because that’s the other thing if it’s starting to degrade. Also, if you have ten different films, we can take a look at them and be like, “Look. This is the one film. If you can only do one film, do this one because it’s degrading the quickest.” So we can help you create your preservation priorities. We can digitize certain formats and we plan to also. And then we can – depending on the format, it really depends on what vendor. But people can reach out to us and we can let them know. And it depends on where they’re located. Sometimes it’s easier to take it out. Sometimes though, I just have to put it out there that I don’t want to call out any companies or anything, but sometimes those small places that seem really cheap, you’re like, “Oh, that’s a great deal,” but you’re also getting what you’re paying for. So you might not get the highest resolution, and it might not be the safest way to digitize your home movies. So just keep that in mind.
[NR] I guess we were sort of talking about this the whole time. But how can people support the good work that you’re doing at M.A.R.M.I.A? How can they reach you? How can they find out about you? What do you want them to do right now? You want them to open their checkbook or bring our their credit card –
[NR] Right. That would be great. Yeah.
[NR] – and make a gift?
[SH] You can –
[NR] And how do they do that?
[SH] Yeah. So you can go to our website which is MARMIA.org. And it’s MARMIA like Narnia – Chronicles of Narnia – but with “M”s. So MARMIA.org. And you can see it there’s a link to the fundraiser at the top-right. And there’s a video there where I talk about the WJZ collection more. You can learn a lot more about the collection on our site and the kind of content that’s in there.
[NR] And how far along are you?
[SH] We have raised a little over $4,000.
[NR] Okay. So 10,000 to go.
[SH] Yes. Exactly. So we’ve got ways to go–
[NR] If someone out there listening right now was really excited by this interview and they’re going to cut you a $10,000 check, I’m sure.
[SH] Yes. Yeah. I hope so.
[NR] So if you’re listening and you were compelled, go ahead and do it. Siobhan says it’s okay.
[SH] Right. Make it out to M.A.R.M.I.A. Yes. It is okay. We’ll support you.
[NR] And then, I guess, they can also get in touch with you in particular through the M.A.R.M.I.A website?
[NR] Is the best place to do it?
[SH] Yeah. Yeah. There’s a “Contact Us” tab. Then you can also – if you want to check out the videos – so we have our fundraiser which you then got off MARMIA.org. But then we also have a lot of content already up online from the WJZ collection. If you want to view our content that has already been digitized from the WJZ collection and a couple other things in our collections, a few home movies, you can go to Archive.org\Details\MARMIA. And that’s where you can see our Mid-Atlantic media collection, where we hope to have content from other organizations as well. And that Internet Archive page will be the one-stop place that people go to see Mid-Atlantic regional movies and hear sounds.
[NR] Cool. And they can actually search for a keyword or a term in that collection.
[SH] Yes. Not everything is as described as we would like. But for example, Oprah worked at WJZ in her early years as an anchor and on People Are Talking, so you can search Oprah and she’ll pop up in a few places. But then she’s hidden throughout the collection as well. There are over a hundred videos and many of them are at least a couple of hours long. So we have to sit there and… So that’s actually one thing that the public can also help us with. There’s a place on the Internet archive where you can comment. And if people, once they watched the videos and then comment in the comment section what the subjects are, that would be amazingly helpful for us.
[NR] That’s a way to crowdsource as well.
[NR] So if you guys have an extra time in your hands, jump on there and take a look.
[SH] Yeah. And if you could just write the time code, just be like, “Two minutes in. Oprah is talking about adopting puppies,” and boom. That would help us out so much.
[NR] Well, before you leave today, we’re going to ask you the same question we ask everyone, which is your favorite historic building. And you’re a native Marylander, so it’d be great if it was Maryland, but it can be anywhere. I know you’ve traveled around and lived different places. So what do you got for us?
[SH] Okay. Yeah. It’s got to be Maryland. I mean, it’s just… Yeah. Yeah. I would say this question, I really like. But it’s also sort of asking a movie nerd, “What’s your favorite movie?” So there’s two answers, unfortunately. And one is the one that was more influential and that you always say, “Yeah, this is my favorite.” But then there’s the one where you – it’s sort of like, “Oh, it’s my favorite right now,” my current obsession. So the first one that was the most influential, I would have to say was the Reisterstown branch of the Baltimore [County] Public Library because I grew up in Reisterstown. And it’s that library branch, in particular – I think it was the first high school in Baltimore County, in the whole county, which eventually became Franklin High School. But the building was from the 1820s, I believe. And it was a library, so that made me really happy and I could rent movies there. It is a beautiful historic building. But then also there’s a graveyard right next door to it as well, so I have some Goth tendencies here and there. So it just really hit all the great –
[NR] The confluence of a perfect thing.
[SH] Yeah, it was. Yeah.
[NR] Is it still there?
[SH] The Bermuda Triangle of my weirdness, so. Yes, it is. It is. It’s a great library so you guys should check it out. And then my current –
[NR] Your current obsession.
[SH] – obsession is, since I live in Waverly in the city here, I am very obsessed with the Boulevard Theater on [Greenmount Avenue] by 33rd [Street]. You can still see the marquee where it says Boulevard, and still has the carved in – I’m not sure what stone that is – ladies sort of dancing up on the top. It’s beautiful. And every time I pass it, I just kind of dream of one day it being restored.
[NR] Yeah. Perhaps the future headquarters of M.A.R.M.I.A.
[SH] Yes. I have also had that fantasy. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[NR] Fourteen grand to start and then 1.4 ($1.4 million).
[SH] Yes [laughter]. Exactly.
[NR] Right. Well, Siobhan, this has been a pleasure. Thanks so much for joining us today.
[SH] Thank you!
[NR] And thanks for all the good work you’re doing out there in the preservation world.
This podcast was developed under a grant from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, a unit of the National Park Service. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Preservation Maryland and the Maryland Milestones Heritage Area and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the National Park Service or the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training.
This week’s episode was produced and engineered by Ben and Stephen Israel. Our executive producer is Aaron Marcavitch. Our theme music is performed by the band Pretty Gritty. You can learn more about them at their website: PrettyGrittyMusic.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter @PG_PrettyGritty.
To learn about Preservation Maryland or this week’s guests, visit: PreservationMaryland.org. While there, you can check out our blog and learn about what’s current in historic preservation. We’re also on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and Twitter @PreservationMD. And of course, a very special thank you to our listeners. Keep preserving!