John Roberts
September 1996

In 1991, the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia, then a chapter of the National Broadcast Pioneers, recorded 7 Oral History interviews. These were part of a national project. On Thursday, September 19, 1991, a former president of our organization, Dr. Marguerite Farley recorded an interview with John B. Roberts, former professor in Radio-TV-Film at Temple University and former weekend news anchor for Channel 6. It was recorded at John's home in Wyndmoor, PA.

Fortunately, we kept the masters and sent dubs to the national group. Where they went after that, we do not know. On the six other interviews, we are convinced that those six tapes are the tape cassette originals. However, we are not convinced that our "master" of the Roberts interview is, indeed, the master. We believe it is not.

The reason we feel that this Roberts master isn't the actual master, there was a place in the tape where the exact same audio passage repeated. Even if the words were respoken, they would have different inflections. Both passages are exactly the same. Keep in mind that these tapes were marked "master." The interview was recorded on four sides of two audio cassettes. Maybe only one side was a copy. We don't know.

This recording also had some technical problems. There were several places where we definitely know that the original tape was stopped and backed up and new audio recorded over the original. Why did they do this? We don't know. However, we can guess.

Throughout this recording, the microphone would cut out every once in awhile. We feel that the tape was probably backed up because of the mike problem. However, there are also small sections where the mike would keep dropping out. They probably were not aware of this until after the interview was completed.

We can hear this on both the "master" and the "copy." The original running time of this recording was 108 minutes in length. However, we have edited the recording, removing phrases like "are we recording okay, now?" "Yes, we are." We also removed the sections where the mike kept cutting out. There would be large sections of the interview where there was no problem (like 10 minute segments) and then there were sections where the mike would keep cutting out with lots of "dead air."

Where there were electronic edits made on the tape in 1991, we kept this intact. However, we did clean up the electronic cuts so there were no wows, etc. However, some of this sounds like when they started back up recording, they were in a slightly different thought mode. We left that intact because the audio was okay. So be advised. We did not do these cuts when we prepared it for our website in March of 2008. This was done in 1991 on the day of original recording.

Where we removed sections with mike problems (the audio was so bad that you couldn't even determine what they were talking about), we usually went to the next question unless they were still talking about the same topic when the technical problem cleared up.

There were also sections where the audio just dropped out for a half second or so. We cleaned these up as cleanly as possible and left them intact. It took about 20 hours of editing to prepare this recording. Because of the technical problems, we lost about 10 minutes in length with the running time now being 98 minutes.

However, what we do have runs and flows smoothly. We hope that someday we will find a "perfect" version of this interview. Be assured that if we ever find a better copy, we will upload that version. However, this interview is so historic we felt that we had to offer it in the current form.

Gerry Wilkinson, the historian for the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia said:

I've known John Roberts for over 40 years, and there's things in this interview I didn't know about him. Like he was going to be the GOP candidate for City Controller until the Republicans found out that John was a registered Democrat.

When John Daly left ABC-TV as their evening news anchor, the job was offered to John Roberts who thought about it and decided to stay in Philadelphia and continue teaching at Temple University. ABC Television's loss was Philadelphia's gain.

With all this said, we now offer you this Oral History interview with John B. Roberts, who happened to be our 30th President and our 30th Chairman of the Board.

In the summer of 2012, we recoded this interview. Instead of it being divided into four segments, it is now all in one file. It is also, for the first time, available in the Windows Media Format!

Listen in Real Audio!
Listen in Windows Media!

From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member John Roberts
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