Are vintage newscasts archived?

I like to listen to “old time radio” programs, to play over a couple 1930s and 1940s radios I’ve restored. Thousands of hours of programs are available online - Dragnet, The Shadow, Superman, Suspense! etc. Then as now, all radio shows had a break at the top of the hour for national news from the big affiliates, maybe five minutes or so, apart from the dedicated news and opinion programs. Other than major historical events, like the bombing of Pearl Harbor and other noteworthy war broadcasts, I haven’t been able to find anything, oddly enough. It would be interesting to me at least, to hear top of the hour news broadcasts from the beginning of radio through the 1960s, but I haven’t found anything. Were they not recorded anywhere, or saved?

Maybe try these:

(Actually seems to be a lot available out there)

MOST of what has been broadcast has NOT been preserved.

A couple of unfortunate examples:

  • There is no recording of the first Superbowl still in existence. Important to some folks.

  • The tapes used to record the first Moon missions were REUSED in order to save money for NASA. So they are forever lost as well.

For most stations at most times, it was probably not recorded at all, or recorded temporarily and then recorded over, or else the tapes just got tossed. As Whack-a-Mole illustrates, though, some of it made its way online.

I’d love to listen to recordings of radio shows complete with contemporary intros, segues, cut-ins, news breaks, commercials, etc. What sort of copyright rat’s nest would that entail? Like, for example, just a sample hour or two of local radio from a Monday evening somewhere, 1938?

I’ve found a handful of old baseball game broadcasts over the years, but they’re pretty rare, too.

super bowl I recording does exist NFL does not want to buy it from the owner

No, as I mentioned, historical milestones like December 7th are well represented on the OTR sites. General, everyday news broadcasts are slim pickins’. There’s probably 30 years worth I’d find interesting, and I can’t find any. And that’s national news by the big affiliates. I’m sure local news is nonexistent, that would be interesting too.

Whomever recorded the the old time radio programs in the first place, would maybe have or had them, I don’t know. A lot of them were saved by the AFRTS, and maybe never had the news included, I dunno.

Nitpicking but it’s recordings of the television broadcast that were lost (although a copy of the CBS recording has been found). The NFL itself also filmed the game and those recordings have always been available.

The Vanderbilt Television News Archive has a lot of material dating from 1968.

Archiving is more of a hobbyist thing, so there aren’t any big databases you can check. Sometimes you’ll find an aircheck that happens to have a newscast inside it, and sometimes you’ll find a few ontribute sites.

Your best bet may be to start browsing “old time radio” websites, contact the site organizers and ask if they can help you network to find what you’re looking for.

Missed the edit window–Vandy is for TV news only, I misread the OP. It’s still pretty cool though.

a lot of TV station video tapes were reused to simply save money.

Also not many sporting events are available before the 70s. They tended to keep just highlights of big games instead of the whole game.

One story I’ve heard is that Monty Python’s Flying Circus was almost lost. The BBC routinely erased tapes of shows and normally that series would have been erased after its broadcast. But Terry Gilliam was horrified by this and in his contract he had a clause saying he could have a copy of each broadcast (but the BBC charged him for the videotape used). This apparently convinced some BBC executive that the tapes must have some potential value so they ended up keeping copies for the network as well.

British Pathe is quite fun to look through.

It appears that as long as no one complains, and the use is non-profit, there isn’t too much of a problem. For example, Complete Broadcast Day - WJSV September 21, 1939.

I’m breaking my long silence to recommend the old BBC Radio show Letter from America by Alistaire Cooke. BBC restored hundreds of these programs that were recorded weekly by two listeners between 1973-1989, and it looks like there are a few older ones on there as well.

Very early in my career I was at a post-production facility where they were erasing tapes of the 1972 Olympics. I’m sure they kept highlights, and the hostage stuff, and were just ditching like the sailing preliminaries. Still I was horrified.

My WAG is that entertainment programs (comedies, dramas, music shows) were at least sometimes recorded and preserved, because they might have been re-broadcast at a later date.

OTOH, other than archiving noteworthy events for posterity, few broadcasters likely saw any need to record and preserve news (or sports) broadcasts, since they were incredibly unlikely ever be replayed by the broadcaster. Recording wasn’t inexpensive, storage probably wasn’t inexpensive, and it was likely seen as being a useless exercise.

And that brings up another point. From what I can suss out in reading theWikipedia article on tape recorders, it was the introduction of 8-tracks and Compact Cassettes in the 1960s which made tape recorders widely popular in the consumer market – and, thus, made it possible for listeners to record radio programs at home. Prior to that (and certainly before the mid-1940s, when tape recorders were first commercialized), any recordings of radio programs were made by the broadcasters, not by listeners or consumers, who might have made and kept recordings as a hobby.

Interestingly, there are several early episodes of Dr Who for which the originals are long gone but the audio survives because fans taped the shows with cassette recorders.