Radio Heritage Heaven

Keith’s Collection for Radio Heritage Foundation

Author: Paul Brooks

Keith Richardson [center] with a fraction of his historic audio collection. David Ricquish [left] of the Radio Heritage Foundation, says the Keith Richardson Collection will be digitized and made available online. Dr Jo Del Monaco, of the Radio Heritage Foundation, looks on.
© Paul Brooks

Keith Richardson did not spend his entire radio career collecting industry treasures to make his name made synonymous with radio heritage.

But that is what has happened.

Keith Richardson, affectionately known as “Fossil” (a sobriquet appended by the late Mac Brechmanis), made a name for himself in broadcasting, debuting on the wireless in the 1960s.

Throughout his career, he has hobnobbed with celebrities and become one himself, appearing on hit records and releasing singles under a variety of pseudonyms. That time has also been spent accumulating audio booty, priceless treasures from the history of New Zealand broadcasting.

A long-time Wanganui resident and planning for posterity, Keith has bestowed his huge collection to the Radio Heritage Foundation, to be preserved in perpetuity as the Keith Richardson Collection.

I was there that day when David Ricquish and Dr Jo Del Monaco arrived to remove the huge amount of material from Keith’s Castlecliff home. Reel tapes, cassettes, CDs, records; 50 years of radio history ready and waiting in boxes to be bequeathed to the nation.

“I’ve kept everything,” says Keith and who could argue? “I’ve never thrown anything away, ever,” he says.

As a bit of a hoarder a myself, I felt humbled by the sheer volume of memorabilia.

“I’ve got stuff everywhere ” he says, prowling through the amassed historic trove.

David Ricquish of Radio Heritage Foundation says he’s excited to be able to add Keith’s collection to the archives.

“We call ourselves a safe haven,” he says. People can be secure in the knowledge that everything will be kept safe, eventually digitised and made available online for free.

As far as Keith’s original material goes, it will be stored in a temperature-controlled environment under his name.

“We believe that those who donate should be remembered,” he says.

David already has a lot of archive material that he himself has collected.

“I’ve been interested in radio all my life, as a listener, and I collected all this ephemera.” He says he used to hear some horrific stories about priceless material being dumped or destroyed by people who didn’t know any better.

Relatives clearing out estates by the bin load, not realising the damage they were inflicting.

The only repository until now has been the Radio NZ Sound Archives. David compares it with Fort Knox because once material goes in…

He says there is a huge amount of audio in New Zealand that has come from all over the world.

“Our isolation has made us the graveyard of a lot of heritage,” he says. “It ended up here because we were the end of the distribution line and the suppliers often didn’t think to ask for it back.”

Despite the ever growing collection cared for by Radio Heritage Foundation, David and Jo say they are always looking for more material.

“Everybody has a story,” they say.

They’re also keen on hearing from people and businesses willing to sponsor digitisation and uploads.

Keith’s collection took two days to remove, and that was just part of it.

Keith says he’s held back a good portion of it but it will eventually all be housed by the foundation.

© Wanganui Midweek 14/7/2010.

This material remains © APN News & Media Ltd 2010 and is only for non-commercial personal or research use. Any other use requires permission of the copyright holder. The Wanganui Midweek is published by the Wanganui Chronicle.

Read our full review of Keith’s collectable book “Never A Dull Moment” here:

Never A Dull Moment jacket.
© Keith Richardson.
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