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Quest for Sound Memories

Art Silverman
NPR Series Coordinator

It was the evening of January 27, 1999 -- a few hours after we announced QUEST FOR SOUND. I plugged in my mini-disk machine to my home phone line and dialed up the QUEST access number. I was in my kitchen, doing the dishes.

My intention was to listen to a few messages from listeners and record them on the machine. At that point, I had no idea what or how much I would find.

The first thing I heard was the mechanical voice of our phone mail system: "Your mailbox is full - please delete messages you do not want." Yikes! This was after only the East Coast had heard the program. It meant that we'd used up the 100 or so allotted spaces to store the messages. I'd have to get busy, because soon the second and third feeds of NPR'S ALL THINGS CONSIDERED would lure more listeners to our QUEST phone line; if I didn't act, they'd have no place to deposit their reports about their audio treasures.

Needless to say, it was a long evening. However, the time went quickly. I found myself amazed at the range of messages about records and tapes that people have preserved: grandfather's voice, deceased spouse, army buddy, historical figure, near-death experiences, scout troop skits.

I felt an enormous responsibility to all the callers. So it was about 1:30 in the morning before I got the saved messages down to a safe 20 or 30. All three feeds to the country had been heard. There was now room in phone mail for people hearing the series on the Web to call in.

I knew then we had a winner with LOST & FOUND SOUND. And I knew it would be a busy year (It was!)

Art Silverman
NPR Series Coordinator

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