Cable news, local TV news, network news — all forgettable blather, right?
Well, someone forgot to tell the late Marion Stokes, who spent the years from 1977 through 2012 recording all that stuff from her own home. She was equipped with as many as eight television recorders. She taped CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and various others. She left behind 140,000 VHS tapes.
Sarah Kessler’s piece on Stokes in Fast Company has other fun facts that’ll stop you in your reading tracks:
She’d feed a six-hour tape into the recorders late at night. She’d wake up early the next day to change them (or conscript family members to do the same if she wasn’t home). She’d cut short meals at restaurants to rush home before tapes ended. And when she got too old to keep up, she trained a younger helper named Frank to run the various recording equipment.
Stokes’s son, Michael Metelits, recalled what the operation felt like:
He recalled how Stokes had a habit of watching two televisions at once, and her son says she could pay attention to both at the same time. Plus, there were often several more televisions running without volume in bedrooms and hallways as they recorded other channels. It was a chaotic environment for most everyone but Stokes.
Stokes died at the age of 83 on Dec. 14; her recording instruments missed the Sandy Hook massacre, the Fast Company story noted.
At a cost of $12,000, all those tapes, now sitting in a Philadelphia storage unit, will be shipped to Richmond, Calif., for digitization by the Internet Archive. That’ll take some doing. Wrote Kessler: “When the tapes arrive, they’ll sit until someone puts them into video players, one at a time, and begins to digitize them for the archive, a process almost as arduous as recording them in the first place.”