(The following is a guest post by Matthew Barton, curator of recorded sound in the Library’s Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.)
Last year, the Library of Congress acquired the first of more than 10,000 radio interviews conducted by Ron Barr, founder and host of radio’s Sports Byline USA. The interviews date from 1988 and feature figures from across the world of sports: athletes, coaches, trainers, managers, owners, writers and others in the areas of baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, tennis, golf, racing, boxing, track and field and numerous other sports. Throughout his career, Barr has sought out not only active competitors but the veterans of earlier sports generations, who have illuminated their eras and achievements for today’s listeners. Interviews such as these enrich the Library’s sports holdings in all media, going back many generations.
Sports coverage has been an ongoing fixture of radio broadcasting since its earliest days, one of the few constants in the ever-changing media world. The Sports Byline interviews form an invaluable archive of the nation’s athletic heritage, and an extensive resource for historians, researchers, fans and sports professionals. Notable interviewees include John Wooden, Reggie White, Mickey Mantle, Elgin Baylor, Hank Aaron, Oscar Robertson, John Elway, Jose Canseco, Charles Barkley, Mike Krzyzewski, Jimmie Johnson, John Mackey, Archie Griffin, Bonnie Blair, Bill Bradley, Willie Mays, Jim Brown, Barry Sanders, John McEnroe, Natalie Coughlin and Meadowlark Lemon. Some are available now online.
In this 1997 interview, the great Elgin Baylor talks about his early days of playground basketball in Washington, D.C. in the 1940s, and why, of all his achievements, he remains proudest of his rebounding.
This Friday, Barr is a featured speaker in a wide-ranging roundtable discussion of sports, broadcasting and preservation. Joining him are Brian Billick, football commentator and former Super Bowl-winning coach of the Baltimore Ravens, and Adonal Foyle, a 13-year NBA veteran who, through his charitable work, helps needy children and encourages civic involvement. Gene DeAnna, head of the Library’s Recorded Sound Section, and myself will be on hand to discuss the Library’s continuing commitment to the gathering and preservation of sports media.
The program will also feature highlights of some of Barr’s favorite interviews with various sports figures such as Negro Leagues baseball legend Buck O’Neill and wide receiver Jerry Rice. Also in the mix will be unique broadcast clips from the Library of Congress collection, dating back to the early 1930s. Sports radio broadcasting and sports itself have changed enormously over the generations, and this event is a unique opportunity to experience its past, present and future. Plans to make further Sports Byline interviews available online in the near future will also be discussed during this panel.
Free and open to the public, the program begins at noon in the Mumford Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave., S.E., Washington, D.C.