Aireum: Preserving Canada’s Broadcast History

Canada is not very good at protecting and preserving its cultural history and for our broadcast history, that’s a really unfortunate thing. Every day we lose a hundred years’ worth of broadcast history in dumpsters, fire, flood, mildew, and neglect. According to the Canadian Broadcast Museum Foundation (CBMF), we’re the only developed nation without a designated and consistent program to preserve its broadcast legacy.

Formed in 2001, the CBMF has already achieved a great deal, but there’s still a lot more to be done. FYI Music News recently interviewed CBMF chair Doug Thompson and broadcaster Duff Roman to get a better understanding of what the Foundation does.

“Roman explains that ‘I came into the Foundation with the second wave under Bob Laine’s tenure as Chairperson,’ and this is a cause clearly close to Roman’s heart. ‘Broadcasting provides a rich resource of the daily endeavours of citizens, their relationships with each other, their political, economic, cultural, artistic and societal interactions ‘as they happened’ in the voice of the communicators and the people they served’”.

Since their mission is to preserve Canadian broadcast history, one of their key initiatives is creating a virtual museum website called Aireum. The project is non-profit and a registered charity with a volunteer board of directors. Collected items of Canadian Broadcast History, such as audio and video tapes, paper archives, scripts, memorabilia, and other things, are being digitized to be viewed online.

So far, Thompson estimates that over 100,000 items have been collected so far, although the CBMF does not have the resources to properly house and display the physical copies. However, a travelling exhibit has been discussed and at least one museum is interested. Some of the artefacts that they have collected include the typewriter that war correspondent Michael Maclear travelled across Vietnam with, the first Hockey Night in Canada drawing, and scripts from the Wayne and Schuster Show.

The Aireum isn’t proceeding very quickly due to fund constraints, although there is a crowdfunding campaign going on to help. If you’re interested in more information, go here.

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