Courses, Internship Feed Student's Love
of Broadcast History

By Vincent Reda (August 6, 2007)

L.J. Strumpf

L.J. Strumpf (Photo courtesy of The Paley Center)

Often the best service a university can provide is to help a student follow his passion.

Such is the case of UAlbany grad student L.J. Strumpf, enrolled in a dual degree program in history and information science and currently exercising three of his fervent pursuits — history, media, and digital preservation — in a summer internship at The Paley Center for Media in New York City. Since opening in 1976 as the Museum of Broadcasting, the Paley Center has been dedicated to the retrieval, cataloguing, and preservation of archival television and radio broadcasts.

"It is a bit unusual to have a master's student so thoroughly focused from the outset on pursuing a career in such a particular segment of the archival world," said Phillip Eppard, UAlbany professor of information studies. "I've been teaching archives here for 19 years now, and I can't say I've had a student with more enthusiasm and dedication than L.J."

"I have always been something of a historian when it comes to television broadcasting," said Strumpf, who earned his undergraduate degree magna cum laude in history in 2006. "For the past decade I have saved television content on videotape as a way to preserve the ephemeral nature of the medium. However, as videotape is not suitable for long-term preservation, a digitized reformatting would be wise — and, in fact, The Paley Center is now working on that."

"... the internship at
The Paley Center [is] an excellent fit for him and will provide an outstanding life experience as he pursues his degree."
Professor Thomas Mackey

It was while taking Professor Thomas Mackey's Information Environment course in early 2006 that Strumpf first contacted The Paley Center, inquiring as to whether it might have saved daily evening news broadcasts of local television stations. He subsequently made two visits there and began to think about an internship.

This March, he sent the center an application, bolstered by glowing letters of recommendation from UAlbany professors; he was accepted in May.

"When L.J. was in my course, his blog assignment often read like a weekly newspaper column, clearly going beyond the basic assignment requirements," said Mackey. "His keen interest in issues related to digital preservation makes the internship at The Paley Center an excellent fit for him and will provide an outstanding life experience as he pursues his degree."

Strumpf's first assignment was to inventory phonograph records donated by the family of a woman who hosted a children's radio quiz show from 1938 to 1941. He next examined videotape archives of former Secretaries of State Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright to enhance a Paley Center seminar they conducted on the role media plays in influencing foreign policy.

"I hope to be genuinely helpful and to make a lasting impression at the center," said Strumpf. "Although I'm not certain of my career goals yet, perhaps one day I will be employed there."

Related Links:

Department of History
Department of Information Studies


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