In February 2011, WNET THIRTEEN moved from an enclave on the far west side of Manhattan into the Worldwide Plaza Building in Hell’s Kitchen. The move allowed the station to build a collaborative workspace for its staff, a benefit of which is a sweeping 360-degree view of the surrounding neighborhood. Production studios, including editing rooms, sound booths, and recording studios, line the interior of the space.
Now located in compressed shelving on a separate floor, WNET’s archive operates as an exclusively internal resource. A small team of WNET archivists collect and preserve footage originally produced, co-produced, or copyright-protected by WNET THIRTEEN and its subsidiaries, WLIW on Long Island and PMNJ in New Jersey. The collection includes more than 27,000 tapes in formats ranging from videotape to film. Migrating footage to new, supported formats is among the primary challenges of operating an archive of this nature.
In addition to its audiovisual holdings, the archive houses nearly 2,300 boxes of paper records. WNET's archivists are currently digitizing records of National Educational Television programs from the mid-1950 through 1970, a collection WNET manages as successor-in-interest.
To celebrate the station’s 50th Anniversary, highlights from the archive were featured in four anniversary programs, including Photography – The Incisive Art with Ansel Adams (1962), USA: Photography – Dorothea Lange: Under the Trees (1965), and Conversation with Muhammed Ali (1968). “Anniversaries are a great time to showcase the necessity of your department and to get buy-in support from senior management,” says Winter Shanck, archivist at WNET THIRTEEN.
WNET's video vault, a free online resource, showcases even more footage from the archive.
Special thanks to Winter Shanck for her assistance with this article, and for hosting METRO staff on a recent tour of WNET THIRTEEN and its archives.