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In January 2015, the US government agency Voice of America loaned the Leo Sarkisian Music Library to the University of Michigan with the goal of digitizing and providing access to the materials for research and teaching. Transfer created an archive where once existed a longstanding music resource that supported all aspects of the production of the VOA’s Music Time in Africa radio program. The archive encompasses sound recordings and type-scripts of the radio program (1965-2004), along with extensive recordings of live musical performances made by Leo Sarkisian in his travels through Africa or by African staff trained by Leo Sarkisian to make professional quality recordings on his behalf—often at the radio stations he helped establish. This article describes the Music Time in Africa radio broadcast and then contextualizes efforts to provide access to the digitized recordings in terms of the nature of the post-modern archive, performance studies, and the repatriation of musical heritage resources found in archives. The article concludes with a reflection on the complexities of providing access to digital recordings of international radio and the author’s efforts to explore opportunities for digital repatriation through rebroadcast on social media, which in many ways shares the underlying characteristics of the radio broadcast medium itself.
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