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“Sound Beat” on WAER Explores Historic Recordings

SYRACUSE — Did you know the Syracuse University Library has one of the largest collections of historical audio recordings in the country? The Belfer Audio Archives includes literally thousands of old cylinder recordings. Thanks to a new program on WAER 88.3, you can learn about another one of these historical pieces every day.

Sound Beat debuted on Tuesday, March 1st.  According to an article on “Inside SU” the 90-second “module” airs every day at 3:30pm.  Each edition of Sound Beat highlights a specific recording from the Belfer archives, along with some background information about that day’s recording.

The archive includes all types of music — jazz, bluegrass, film scores, operas — and plenty of spoken-word recordings, including some from Thomas Edison, Theodore Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart.

According to “Inside SU,” many of the recordings in the Belfer archive were rarely played because certain formats — especially those on cylinders made of wax — can be damaged every time they are played. But over the past few years, many of the recordings have been digitized — so the audio can be played over and over again without risking further damage to the original media.

If you miss the daily broadcasts on WAER, you can visit the Sound Beat website at The Belfer Cylinders Digital Collection is also available online through the SU Library website.

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