Collaboration preserves audio files of local history

Krystle Wagner • Aug 27, 2018 at 2:00 PM

Tri-Cities’ history is being preserved in a new way.

For more than three years, Dennis Swartout has given voice to more than 150 “Tales of the Tri-Cities” in a weekly program on WAWL-LP (103.5 FM). Now, the audio of the area’s history is available on Loutit District Library’s oral history webpage.

The audio files are stored on a server by the Tri-Cities Historical Museum.

Jeanette Weiden, of Loutit District Library’s history and genealogy department, said they’re excited to add to the collection of audio history. The library also has interviews of community leaders.

Weiden said the library is there to make information accessible and to educate the community.

About a year ago, Swartout, creator of the “Tales of the Tri-Cities” program, approached the library about working together to preserve the audio history. After some setbacks, the library and museum were able to collaborate and make it possible.

Swartout said he’s hopeful people will use technology to access the history and interviews.

“All of this information is a click away,” he said.

“Tales of the Tri-Cities” was first broadcast April 2, 2015.

Swartout said Dr. Dave and Dotti Seibold deserve all of the credit. The history recounted in the program is based on the Seibolds’ book “In the Path of Destiny.” The 920-page book looks at the area’s history from the early 1800s until it was published in 2007.

Some of the events included in the book are the Great Fire of 1889, the Escanaba’s sinking in 1943, and stories of local residents such as Cliff Pfaff and Tad Poel.

Over the years, the program has received positive reactions and feedback from listeners, Swartout said.

In the future, Swartout said they hope to add the audio from a new program, “Tales from Tad,” which airs at 9:30 a.m. Tuesdays on WAWL. That program is based on the book “Focus on People” by Weiden and Wallace Ewing. The book is a collection of columns Poel wrote for the Tribune.

The library’s oral history page can be found by visiting www.loutitlibrary.org, and clicking on the “History and Genealogy” tab.

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