The most important commercial radio archive in the UK will be preserved for academic use thanks to a £750,000 grant.
Academics at Bournemouth University's Media School have been awarded the money to digitise and catalogue the news and current affairs audio archive of LBC, the first commercial radio brand, and IRN (Independent Radio News).
More than 7,000 audio tapes are deposited in vaults at Bournemouth, which contain material from the beginning of commercial radio in Britain.
The archive contains material relating to the Falklands War and President P. W. Botha's speech to the South African Parliament announcing the ending of apartheid.
Se n Street, professor of radio and director of the Centre for Broadcasting History Research (pictured), said: "This collection is the most important commercial radio archive in the UK and provides a unique witness to the history of the latter part of the 20th century. It is hard to overestimate its importance in terms of UK media history."
The project joins 15 new and six established digitisation projects funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee, with a total investment of nearly £22 million.
Stuart Dempster, manager of the digitisation programme, said: "Sound has up to now been an often neglected resource in education, just as radio has sometimes been a neglected medium. This project will challenge those assumptions, providing a rich and unique resource reflecting major political events in the UK and beyond."
Charlie Rose, LBC/IRN deputy head of news information and archivist from 1980 to 1996, said: "Students will be able to listen to examples of radio journalism, ground-breaking production techniques and unique audio history."
The digitisation process will be completed in 2009.