The music library in the basement of Santa Monica-based public radio station KCRW (89.9 FM and KCRW.com) houses a priceless collection of more than 60,000 recordings of great historical importance and cultural relevance. The station is launching a major effort to save this precious resource and preserve it for years to come with "The Music Match: A Campaign to Save KCRW’s Library."
There is no library in any radio station that is comparable to KCRW’s in breadth or depth. The library has been shaped over three decades and its influence has been profound as KCRW’s DJs have become major tastemakers. The resources of the library inspired soundtracks for entertainment vehicles like The Matrix, Six Feet Under, Shrek, Little Miss Sunshine and a myriad of commercials, video games and more. All of this is currently housed in a 15 X 20 foot room with CD drawers and vinyl racks stacked floor to ceiling – about the size of a walk-in closet.
This campaign will raise the funds necessary to store the contents of the library as the highest fidelity digital sound files and allow our DJs to explore the full range of music available to them without the current physical limitations. (Imagine having to climb a ladder to reach that perfect Miles Davis record every time you want to play it on air). The library is the primary resource for both KCRW’s on-air DJs and a 24/7 online music stream as well.
KCRW has been at the forefront of the changing media industry for more than a decade and in order for the station to grow, the library must grow along with it.
"KCRW is defined by its music. All of our music directors and hosts have expanded the library based on their unique tastes with only one thing in common – marvelous artistry,” said General Manager Ruth Seymour.
Within the stacks and shelves of the music library reside recordings in a variety of formats (vinyl, reel-to-reel, cassette, DAT, CD) and of all genres and eras, from rare jazz performances to the latest indie-rock sensations. A significant number of the recordings are rare and irreplaceable. They also include extensive live performances from KCRW’s studios that go back more than two decades.
"More than half of the vinyl – some 8,000 albums – are releases you'll never find on CD," says KCRW's first Music Director and current Cafe LA host, Tom Schnabel. "Much of it is priceless."
The Annenberg Foundation and RealNetworks have provided lead grants of $100,000, and proceeds from this year’s sold-out benefit concert, A Sounds Eclectic Evening, will go towards the modernization process. The station is also seeking matching funds from corporations, foundations, and major donors, in addition to KCRW’s loyal listeners.
The collection has been threatened by earthquake and flooding as well as the ravages of time – tape is disintegrating, vinyl is warping and CDs are becoming scratched. Bringing the library up to the same standards as KCRW’s state-of-the-art studios will allow us both to preserve the collection and make it more accessible and important as a resource for creative programming and innovation.