A fortune in vinyl: Thousands of free albums collected in giveaways


Norfolk – When Mark Cunningham, his spouse and teenage sons arrived in WHRO On Saturday, it was 5 o’clock within the morning and it was nonetheless darkish. That they had pushed south from their residence in Silver Spring, Maryland, the evening earlier than for a weekend scavenger hunt for classic vinyl.

To create house for a newsroom that grew to 10 journalists, the station was making a gift of tens of 1000’s of albums, largely vinyl courting again 50 years. Cunningham, a collector of about 1,000 albums and an aficionado of the sound made when the needle strikes a plate, was first in line.

“I could not miss the chance,” he mentioned.

The vinyl growth within the digital age

When the station introduced the giveaway, the response revealed simply how ridiculous Wax followers had been. The variety of free ticket holders rose to over 700 after which 800, so the station capped the occasion at 1,000.

It added a golden ticket, which granted early admission to about 100 individuals who donated $75 to the Public Data Station. They’ve two hours to browse. These with free tickets got 75 entries every time and given half-hour of fast scanning.

Tickets had been as scorching as bootleg recordings of the Grateful Useless or Bruce Springsteen live shows within the days earlier than digital.

Bert Schmidt, the station’s CEO, and Barry Graham, the on-air host of a well-liked music present, mentioned they’d heard from long-lost pals and folks they did not know had been pals trying to rating a spot.

“I heard from somebody I have not spoken to because the ’80s. I am not exaggerating,” Graham mentioned. “I heard from folks I barely knew in highschool, ‘Oh man. Are you able to hook me up?’”

Schmitt mentioned the station reached out to music shops and some different venues to gauge curiosity in buying the gathering. There was none. They supplied albums for donation in the course of the pledge drive. The response was lukewarm. He did not wish to throw it away in a trash can, so the station posted a discover on social media. “Amongst classical recording LPs, some are very uncommon and worthwhile, particularly these that includes nice opera singers from the previous,” the submit reads.

“It stunned us,” mentioned Schmidt, who described himself as “not a music man” and hadn’t had a turntable in years.

The employees on the radio station spent per week unpacking packing containers and roughly separating the albums into tables themed jazz, straightforward listening, people and nation, pop, opera, comedy, classical, different, and soundtracks.

Dwight Davis, who helped begin the sale, has been one of many station’s traditional hosts on the air since 1983. And way back he transitioned to a digital library.

“What would one like finest? Provide you with a pile of vinyl and take all of it in. Or sit on the console, push a button, and make the identical music? It is an previous techie,” he mentioned. “It is nice at residence if you wish to do it, however we merely We received via it.”

Graham, who retired from educating in 2016 and has been on the station for 38 years, was not stunned by the response. “Once I was at school, my children would speak about report retailer day. And they’d discuss to me about standing in line for a few of these report retailer offers at like 4 o’clock within the morning,” he mentioned. “So I sort of had a sense.”

To say the gathering was eclectic is an understatement. There have been classics, primarily jazz and classical, however there have been additionally quirky exhibits like “Huge Hits from Chitty Chitty Bang Band”, sung by The New Christy Minstrels with Arthur Treacher, and “Dancing Discotheque, The Thrilling Dance Concept from France That You” It may be finished at residence.”

A few of those that got here had been collectors. It was a couple of sellers. Others had been surfers, prepared to attempt one thing they did not know. The most well-liked exhibits had been jazz, straightforward listening, people and nation tracks. Most individuals persist with a 50-item cap.

Bob Jones, a retired trainer who known as himself a collector and salesman, was in jazz packing containers in search of gems. He’s credited with albums by John Coltrane and Gene Ammons. He mentioned that vintage vinyl may promote for wherever from $10 to $100.

Kurt Akers, 48, introduced his son, Brody, 18, after introducing him to the ritual of a turntable at Christmas. “I instructed him a very long time in the past that there was no expertise like listening to ‘The Darkish Aspect of the Moon. ‘ on vinyl,” he mentioned. “It was simply one thing he needed to expertise in his life. These are albums that had been made for that medium at the moment.”

Purchased his son a turntable for Christmas. The primary album performed was the traditional Pink Floyd. On the free-for-all present, Brody picked out some Broadway classics, together with Carol Channing singing “Howdy Dolly.”

That day was a household affair for Scott McMahan, 47, and his 13-year-old daughter. McMahan, the Virginia Seaside songwriter who launched the Americana album, was down the aisle of nation and people, swaying via straightforward listening. He had picked up the Ray Charles Singers album and the Mason Williams album.

“This is a chance to test issues we do not know, to attempt them out, to discover new issues,” he mentioned.

Exploring the unfamiliar was the topic of Stephen Moberly, 49. He had picked up an album of Canadian bossa nova, a metal drum disc, some songs from Eire, and albums by Mel Tormé and Ella Fitzgerald. Vinyl is the medium of his youth. “It is enjoyable,” he mentioned. “It is a ritual of it. Hanging out and listening to information. With the sleeves, it is a full package deal. You’ll be able to’t have that with a obtain.”

Others targeted on lengthy emotions. David Johnson, 76, did not have a lot competitors within the traditional part as he was eclectic, in search of “issues I haven’t got, and it is not straightforward.” He had three collections of Leonard Bernstein and a German version of the recordings that includes the songs of Franz Xaver Gruber, the Austrian composer who died in 1863 and is finest recognized for writing the music for Silent Night time.

The attract of the album covers attracted few. Eliza Noe, 24, has been in search of something attention-grabbing. “However I am actually in love with the attractive cowl artwork,” she mentioned. I grabbed The Glory That Was Gershwin’s rainbow cowl album so as to add to the bag that included Harry Gruber’s “Cocktail Time” album together with one other vibrant cowl. She added, “The track ‘My Truthful Woman’ comes out, therefore my title, so I believed that was attention-grabbing.”

Cunningham was amongst those that donated entry first. Two hours later, he and his household had a number of baggage full, together with Coltrane’s goal albums. “It is actually thrilling,” he mentioned.

Will every of them go to his assortment, or may some land within the scorching previous vinyl market? “Most likely in my private assortment,” he paused. “I’ve to say it relies on whether or not or not there may be house, and that’s briefly provide.”

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