belfer audio archive

SU Libraries receives $15,000 grant for Sound Beat radio program

Syracuse University Libraries has received a $15,000 grant from The John Ben Snow Memorial Trust to expand their Sound Beat public radio program.

Launched in 2011, Sound Beat is a daily public radio module that features historic sound recordings from SU’s Belfer Audio Archive, one of the largest privately held audio collections in the country. The grant will allow the libraries’ staff to enhance the program’s engagement with audiences across the country, and it will also intensify the academic affect on campus through the Sound Beat Class Partnership Project.

Each 90-second episode is hosted by Brett Barry, an S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications alumnus, and contains a single recording with an entertaining backstory and a glimpse into American cultural history.

Recordings can vary from popular and classical music performances to film scores and American musical forms such as jazz, bebop, country and bluegrass. Speeches and spoken word performances from historical icons such as Thomas Edison, George Bernard Shaw, Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein and Theodore Roosevelt can also be found in the Sound Beat episode archive.

Sound Beat is carried in almost 200 radio markets across the Unites States, Canada and the Philippines, with a reach of 8.5 million potential listeners, according to an SU press release.

“Sound Beat is a great combination of entertainment and education,” said Pamela McLaughlin, director of communications and external relations for SU Libraries. “In addition to sharing information about the amazing recordings in the libraries’ Belfer Audio Archive, the show engages listeners on a daily basis from across the country and internationally.”

McLaughlin, who is also the project manager for Sound Beat, said the program has been a great way to raise SU’s profile and increase exposure to the Belfer Audio Archive’s vast musical collection. She added that the $15,000 grant will provide funding to expand the Sound Beat Class Partnership Project by selecting a graduate assistant to work alongside the radio show’s producer, Jim O’Connor.

The Sound Beat Class Partnership Project provides students with practical research experience and developmental script-writing skills. The best student scripts are then produced and distributed for the program, which allows students to gain real-world experiences, publishing credit and nationwide exposure, according to the press release.

The graduate assistant will handle all of Sound Beat’s social media activities and its blog, allowing O’Connor to work more with classes that are interested in developing scripts, which may eventually be produced for the show.

“Working with students through the Sound Beat Class Partnership is really one of the most rewarding parts of my job,” O’Connor said.

McLaughlin added that there has been interest from students from many different academic programs on campus, including art and music histories, African American studies and several Newhouse programs.

The John Ben Snow Memorial Trust grant also includes funding for O’Connor as the producer to represent Sound Beat by traveling to two public radio conferences. The funding will enable the digitization of the Belfer Audio Archive’s recordings as well.

“This grant from The John Ben Snow Memorial Trust will help us add value to the program and make the experience a better one for students and our listeners,” O’Connor said.


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