Follow-Up Friday : Recently Reacquired Tapes From WAGM’s Early Days

Published: May. 15, 2023 at 9:57 AM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -Local Television news stories are invaluable documents of American life during the second half of the 20th century, a time of profound change.

Corey Bouchard takes a look at how that digitized footage made it’s way back home and what it takes to bring you Throwback Thursday each week.

Here in WAGM’s archive, which we lovingly call the morgue, we have tapes and digital archives that go all the way back to 1981, with a few tapes that have gone missing over the years. Some of our earlier film archives ended up at the archives of Northeast Historic Films in Bucksport.

David Weiss - Executive Director / Cofounder - Northeast Historic Films " Northeast Historic Films is a non-profit, moving image archive. our specialty is collecting film, video and now digital files related to Maine and the rest of Northern New England”

Weiss says his reason for archiving old film, especially from local news organizations like WAGM is to preserve the stories and history that matters to people.

David " we’ve found in the years we’ve been in business is that, yes people like the big national events, the first landing on the moon and all that stuff but what really grabs them is things that are close to home”

WEISS came into possession of the WAGM film reels which span from 1959-1976 in 1993.

David “as I remember, the station manager was retiring and maybe the station was moving, Norman Johnson I think was his name and I dont remember who reached out to who but it was kinda like this stuff was gonna get thrown away like we dont have room for it, we dont have equipment to deal with it, like you were onto the video era and that was all film and so we existed and he found out about it and I remember driving up I think two loads worth of stuff”

The problem that Weiss Runs into is the same problem that we run into here every time we look for our Throwback Thursdays, We are going off of minimal information on what a story is. We have books that say the title or Slug of the news story, when it aired and sometimes the last name of the reporter. Weiss sometimes has a lot less to go off of.

David” Cataloging is not in great detail and that’s one problem that we are having is that we dont know like usually a little roll of film has a piece of tape on it that says “potato festival 1967″ but thats all we know we dont know who the people are we dont know if it’s really ‘67 and that’s kinda the way it goes until you can put it up on the web or you can put it up on the air and they can see it and they go thats me or i know what that is or that’s wrong”

there are currently 902 stories from WAGM that Northeast Historic Films is working on digitizing and archiving, and we are excited to continue to feature some of them on future editions of Throwback Thursday, Corey Bouchard, NS8