Soundings Radio Show Archive


The National Humanities Center (NHC) in Research Triangle Park produced the weekly Soundings radio show from 1980 to 1997, featuring interviews with scholars and writers. A total of 862 half-hour programs, recorded at WUNC radio, aired on more than 350 radio stations throughout the country The Soundings archive captures the voices of world-class scholars and others speaking passionately about their work in the arts, classics, education, literature, music, philosophy, and every other area of the humanities. Many of the interviews were with the South’s best-know novelists, many from North Carolina, and are considered a regional and national treasure.

In collaboration with the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) and the Libraries of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the NHC digitized the entire audio archive of Soundings and using voice-recognition technology created metadata sets to improve searching within each program. The NHC provided the raw materials, including LP records, fragile 7-inch audio and cassette tapes, CD-ROMs, and paper files. The Libraries of UNC Chapel Hill digitized the audio, preserved the hard copy and hosts the data archive. The Soundings archive allows scholars and the public worldwide to freely search this rich collection of interviews for research, education and entertainment.

RENCI Contribution

RENCI funded the Libraries’ digitization and metadata creation process and applied voice-recognition technology to the digitized audio files to make print transcriptions. RENCI staff developed a website to showcase the Soundings recordings with abstracts. A searchable database that allows users to download recordings and listen to streaming audio is also available.




  • National Humanities Center
  • Libraries of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


  • Steve Weiss, Southern Folklife Collection, Libraries of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Phillip Barron, National Humanities Center
  • Eliza Robertson, National Humanities Center

RENCI team

Joe Hope