Before Minnesota Public Radio purchased 89.3 FM in 2004 and created the Current, the station was owned by St. Olaf College and known as WCAL. Recently, St.Olaf College Special Collections and Archives completed archival descriptions of the complete WCAL Radio Collection (1918-2004). The work was made possible through a grant from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund administered by the Minnesota Historical Society.
Phase two of this project involves digitizing select audio assets from the collection. In 2021 the Archives partnered with Saving Tape Media Conversion in Minneapolis to digitize a series of foreign-language religious service broadcasts (primarily in Norwegian and Swedish), important to immigrant communities throughout the region. Saving Tape also digitized WCAL’s “Dr.America” radio program hosted by St.Olaf Professor Dr.James Farrell. These broadcasts were identified by Bertram Lyons, audio conservator and Senior Consultant at AVP, as unique and important elements of the collection, on fragile media with high risk for content loss. The majority of the physical media consisted of 78 reel to reel audio tapes in moderate to good condition.
Because many of the reel to reel audio tapes were in Swedish and Norwegian languages, Saving Tape’s audio technician relied on detailed archival descriptions to match the tapes to their descriptive metadata.
According to the Archives, future projects to come out of the WCAL Radio Collection include the digitization of glass instantaneous disk recordings of broadcasts from the 1940s.