OKLAHOMA CITY- Critical moments etched in time.
The KFOR film and video collection cover hours upon hours upon hours of news and more for the last seven decades.
The leadership of the station decided several years ago that all of that history should be preserved and the space to house it.
That is when the Oklahoma History Center stepped in to help.
“We said we would be archivists,” Dr. Bob Blackburn said.
There are millions of frames of film and decades of daily videotapes. Unlike many other broadcast stations, when KFOR made the switch to videotape, news crews didn’t erase and re-use the daily tapes. They were archived.
“When WKY (now known as KFOR) went to tape… because they had kept these archives all the way back there was a tradition of knowing they were doing something important in a historical sense they started saving the tapes,” Dr. Blackburn said.
All that film and videotape deteriorates over time.
“I love history and I wanted to preserve the Oklahoma history,” Ernest Leonard, said.
Leonard is one of the volunteers helping to transfer the entire WKY/KTVY/KFOR collection to digital.
The last few years workers at the history center have meticulously cleaned, repaired and re-glued edits on miles of film then transferred it to a digital format while volunteers like Leonard use vintage tape machines to transfer the video.
“It covers everything from of course politics is number one, crime is number two. I’m not too sure those two aren’t related. You’ve got aviation material. You’ve got sports material. You’ve got weather material. It’s really a small history of the state of Oklahoma over the years,” Leonard said.
Ernest and the other volunteers and workers get a front row seat to the original ‘reality show. It is the movie of our Oklahoma lives.
“I’m the only one that gets to see Linda Cavanaugh age gracefully over the years,” Leonard said.
It is a monumental effort, transferring decades of daily stories, specials, and documentaries, video pigment in the paint that covers the canvas of the Oklahoma story.
This entire collection, 70 years worth, now going digital.
They have also saved it on expensive DVDs with a coat of gold! Yes gold.
This gives the DVDs a shelf life of 100 more years.
This will be a gift to the children, grandchildren and even Oklahomans born in the next century.
We do give a sincere thanks to the Oklahoma History center employees and volunteers for their incredible work on the KFOR film archive.