More than 700 pieces of Palmerston North broadcast history have been unearthed from a basement in Levin.
Record collector Paul Foote said an 80-year-old man in Levin responded to a newspaper advertisement he had placed, asking for vinyls for his collection.
“I get this elderly chap in Levin, in his 80s, call and say I should come have a look at what he’s got.”
Mr Foote said he went to Levin and was taken to a basement, which housed a handmade cabinet holding about 700 records.
“An amazing collection of 78s, all in their jackets,” Mr Foote said.
The man had worked for Palmerston North radio station 2ZA in the 1950s.
When the station moved from the T and G building on Broadway Ave to George St, the staff had decided to get rid of the records, the man told Mr Foote.
“He said they were going to send them to Wellington to the broadcasting archives but didn’t want to do that because of the cost,” Mr Foote said.
“They were going to dump them and he asked if he could have them.”
The man had then stored them in his basement in Levin, where they sat for the past 55 years.
Mr Foote said he was lucky to get the collection, which cost him about $300, since the Levin man was about to sell them to someone from the United States.
“They nearly got lost to a dealer who was going to sell them on eBay,” he said.
“I told him not to do it, as they would have all been split up.”
The collection also came with the original album notes, which Mr Foote said was essential for any radio DJ in the mid-1940s.
“Before they played a record they used to do a spiel about artists and they had the notes for background.
“[The notes came] in the old folders.
“It looks like one has been chewed at by mice while in storage, but it’s still all there.”
Despite gathering dust in the basement, they were in remarkably good condition, Mr Foote said.
“Fortunately, the basement is a dry place.”
The fact it all came from a radio station also helped to determine the quality of the records and how often they had been played, he said.
“When they played the records on air, they were quite meticulous in those days.
“What they would do, they would stamp them with a date to tell when it was last played and how many times it was played.
“Some of the dates are 1945, 46, 47.”
The music on the records is typical of the time – plenty of swinging dance-hall jazz and some crooners from artists like Frank Sinatra.
“That’s what they played on the radio back then, the stuff they would listen to at the dances,” Mr Foote said.
Since moving the lot from Levin, Mr Foote had set up the cabinet and half the records in his lounge.
The rest of them were stored in his garage until he could figure out what to do with them.
“I went to the 2ZA exhibition at Te Manawa a few years ago and there was … a lot of former announcers and staff who came out of the woodwork.
“I talked to some of the staff and they had no idea where the records had gone.”
© Fairfax NZ News
© Manawatu Standard June 6, 2012.
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