Since our last post on the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR) Archive, we have continued to process audiovisual objects found in the collection. Most recently, the library has made 154 audio clips accessible for listening through Calisphere. These recordings came into the archive stored on CD-Rs (compact disks), but since this format is obsolete and equipment to play CD-Rs is no longer prevalent, they were converted to digital audio files. In addition to making the clips accessible, the digital files are preserved for the long term in a sustainable format in the California Digital Library’s digital preservation repository.
The CD-Rs are dated from 2003 and contain recordings of radio broadcasts produced and narrated by Robert Singleton, the UCANR radio broadcaster (who retired under the title Senior Public Information Officer) from 1985-2003. During his long tenure, Singleton interviewed UCCE farm and home advisors, researchers, and other employees about certain topics related to their work. Essentially, Singleton used radio communication to disseminate UCANR’s research and programs to communities around the state as each story he recorded was sent to local stations. (1) The addition of these audio clips to the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, UC Cooperative Extension Records enables a deeper understanding of the breadth of work undertaken by UCCE offices around California and demonstrates the ways information made its way to the public at the end of the twentieth century.
An ANR Report article about the UC Cooperative Extension Radio Feed from February 2000 explains that “half are stories of consumer interest, covering such topics as home gardening, financial management, nutrition and environmental issues. The other half focuses on agricultural issues, primarily research developments and public policy.” While Singleton led the production of his own stories, ANR researchers were also encouraged to submit topic ideas related to their own research fields. (2) The range of UCANR extension work is evident in these audio clips, though they are only a fraction of the stories distributed by Singleton and ANR Broadcast Services, and of the work of ANR overall.
On Calisphere, the audio files are arranged alphabetically by topic, revealing some general themes. Many of the radio spots cover financial programs and literacy and warn listeners of unwarranted issues such as predatory lending and homeownership scams, the risks of adjustable-rate mortgages, and information about online banking and earned income credit programs that educate listeners on their benefits and risks. There are also audio clips concerning environmental issues. One spot details fire prevention of homes and buildings and highlights actions that people can take to prevent the loss of their homes. Another set of clips deal with the various risks associated with farm labor. Heat stress among farmworkers, for example, is described by a University of California farm safety representative who explains how to identify and prevent the dangerous effects of excessive sun exposure. Harvest related injuries in older workers, night work injuries, and technology use by workers are also covered by Singleton in his news stories, along with a plethora of other topics such as pesticides, information about crops like rice and purple carrots, and diseases such as the West Nile virus.
University of California Agricultural Cooperative Extension, San Joaquin County Collection
UC Merced, UC Cooperative Extension Archive
San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum