BUSINESS & TECHNOLOGY UPDATES (Click on More to view all articles): Clear Channel Billboards Light Up NY Subway Entrances & Tickets.com To Be Delisted From NASDAQ National Market

Clear Channel Communications will install three-foot-high screens in about 60 New York City subway stations over the next few weeks. CCC will run silent ads on 100 digital screens. Clear Channel already rents about 900 subway spots for traditional billboards. Though Clear Channel is providing the screens, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will be permitted to run announcements intermittently. At a train station entrance at 22nd Street and Broadway, one monitor is already up and runs cosmetic and liquor ads. The authority will share in the profits if the program is deemed successful.

Tickets.com To Be Delisted From NASDAQ National Market

Tickets.com, Inc. received a letter from the NASDAQ Listing Qualifications Department on February 24 indicating that the company's common stock will be de-listed from the NASDAQ National Market effective February 4, 2003 because it does not comply with Marketplace Rule 4450(a)(3). Compliance with this rule had not been an issue prior to November 1, 2002 when NASDAQ eliminated its Net Tangible Asset test as a continued listing alternative. Until November 1, 2002, as a result of its solidly positive Net Tangible Asset level, the company was well in compliance with NASDAQ listing requirements. The ramifications of this rule change and notification are expected to result in Tickets.com's common stock trading on the NASDAQ OTC Bulletin Board as opposed to the NASDAQ National Market.

Regardless of this determination by NASDAQ as to continued listing on the National Market, this action will have no impact on the financial or operational strength of neither the company nor its ability to exceptionally serve its clients.

Tickets.com Launches New Technology

The new ProVenue product choices were developed for venues regardless of size or ticket capacity spanning Performing Arts Organizations, Minor and Major League Sports Team, Museums, Civic Auditoriums, Community Colleges & Universities to River Boats & Casinos, Tourist Attractions and Festivals Fairs & Rodeos.

The five product lines and B2B web site were also developed in conjunction with customers and technology experts to provide the best product solutions for the industry. The subsequent launch is a culmination of industry research, marketplace analysis and evaluating specific needs of venues and operators. The five brands and services are as follows:

ProVenuePlus Ticketing System is designed to enable small to medium sized venues to manage box office operations through an integrated ticketing, fund development, and patron tracking software solution. Options include the ability to provide consumers with 24/7 Internet ticketing sales, through www.tickets.com or a customized Private Label branded site designed to eliminate overhead costs, provide better control of consumer experience, increase brand identity and equity, and extend distribution capabilities. ProVenuePlus venues own the data, which allows greater understanding of patron behavior and buying patterns.

ProVenueMax is an in-house, patron-centric system developed to provide greater control of inventory, patron information, and marketing data. ProVenueMax integrates critical elements of ticketing, patron management, and fundraising. It was developed to provide high level visibility into the patron's purchase and donation history and allows venues to create powerful customer relationships, maximize revenue, and improve the overall ticket buying experience. Tickets.com worked with Blackbaud to develop an interface between its Raiser's Edge(R) software and ProVenueMax that coordinates the critical fundraising, patron management and ticketing functions, with the ultimate goal of increasing successfully developed key relationships. Venues can reward top donors with special seating, perks, and incentives, which are vital to the ongoing role of satisfying the needs of patrons.

ProVenueElite is Tickets.com most robust ticketing system. It provides high-volume, high-reliability and maximum transaction speeds only in conjunction with the ProVenueServices outsourced ticketing solution. ProVenueElite is created to control patron data, design and run customized reports, and fully leverage valuable customer information to drive and implement targeted marketing initiatives. The patron-based system allows venues to capture valuable marketing data on each customer at any point during the ticketing sales process. Additional features available include Contact Management, Access Control, Tickets@home, and our online ticket resale module, Encore.

ProVenueOnline is a real-time Internet transaction engine designed to work in conjunction with any other ProVenue ticketing solution or your proprietary box office system in a 24/7 online ticket sales environment. The result is the ability to sell more tickets with the same amount of resources, through the fastest growing distribution channel. The ticketing technology creates a round-the-clock box office window that handles the highest transaction volumes through the safest and most convenient system available today. ProVenueOnline allows for complete control of ticket inventory and helps retain valuable marketing information with each ticket sale. Finally, by utilizing our Private Label functionality, every online transaction appears under designated venue branded identities, rather than sending ticket buyers to a third-party site.

ProVenueServices is a turnkey box office management system, as well as a ticket selling and distribution service. The comprehensive distribution services include retail outlets, call centers, interactive voice response (IVR), and box offices, as well as fully integrated Internet ticket sales. It also provides advanced marketing and patron data analysis, season ticketing, and built-in contact management tools — all from a single user interface and a single common database.

Sony Doubles Profit for 3rd Quarter

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese electronics and entertainment giant Sony Corp. nearly doubled its profit for the third quarter as hit movies pulled in DVD and video revenue.

A healthy video-game business built around the PlayStation 2 machine and cost-cutting in its electronics segment also helped Sony earn 125.4 billion yen ($1 billion) during the period ended Dec. 31, nearly double its profit of 64 billion yen for the same period a year earlier.

Sales climbed 1.2 percent to 2.3 trillion yen ($19.5 billion) from 2.28 trillion yen– a quarterly record for the Tokyo-based company.

But Sony remained cautious about the months ahead and kept its forecast for the fiscal year ending in March the same — a profit of 180 billion yen ($1.5 billion) on sales of 7.6 trillion yen ($64 billion).

Sony chief executive Nobuyuki Idei said Wednesday his company "performed relatively well," despite deep worries about year-end sales especially in the United States as fears lingered about the American economy.

But Sony Pictures Entertainment recorded its best ever sales and operating income as earlier Box Office hits, including "Spider-Man" and "Men in Black II," continued to produce profits as DVD and video releases.

More than 40 million initial DVDs and videos of "Spider-Man," a smash hit in 2002, were shipped worldwide during the quarter.

Sales in the movie business rose 62 percent to 256 billion yen ($2.2 billion) from 158 billion yen, while operating income shot up to 32 billion yen ($271 million) from 300 million yen a year ago.

Sony said its PlayStation 2 video-game machine continued to do well, particularly in the United States and Europe. Game software sales also picked up.

The yen's fall against the euro also helped lift the value of game-related earnings despite a price cut on the machines, Sony said. Operating income in Sony's game unit rose 8 percent for the quarter to 72 billion yen ($610 million) from 66 billion yen a year ago.

Cumulative worldwide shipments of PlayStation 2 consoles now total 49.59 million as of Dec. 31, according to Sony.

Eight million machines and 79 million PlayStation 2 games were shipped during the quarter, it said. Sales inched up 0.3 percent to 384 billion yen ($3 billion) from 383 billion yen.

Battered by the global slump, the electronics segment suffered a drop in sales. But Sony managed to boost profitability through cost-cutting. Sony said it will continue with inventory adjustments and other efforts.

Operating income in electronics rose 14 percent to 82 billion yen ($695 million) from 72 billion yen, although sales edged down nearly 5 percent to 1.47 trillion yen ($12 billion) from 1.54 trillion yen.

The music business stumbled as record sales plunged in many regions worldwide, underlining a troubled industry, Sony said. Albums that did relatively well were Jennifer Lopez's "This is Me… Then" and Dixie Chicks' "Home."

Operating income in Sony Music Entertainment dipped 9.5 percent to 21 billion yen ($178 million) from 23 billion yen on 199 billion yen ($1.7 billion) sales, down 3.3 percent from 205.5 billion yen.

Sony shares closed down 2 percent at 4,760 yen ($40) on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, where trading ended about the same time Sony released its earnings report.

TicketsWest Expands in Northwest

TicketsWest, an operating division of WestCoast Hospitality Corporation, has renewed its contract with the Showbox Theatre, Seattle's premier showcase club, entered into a new agreement with the Northgate Music Theatre, and has reached agreement to add Rudy's Barber Shops to their regional outlet network system. Tickets will be available through Rudy's Barber Shop locations by February 15, 2003.

Wade Weigel, president of Rudy's, stated, "We've been selling pre-printed concert tickets at Rudy's for many years, and now this solution is the next logical step to provide our customers with a new level of access to ticket inventory. TicketsWest provides inventory to the Showbox, Northgate, Chop Suey, and many of the other nightclub venues in the Puget Sound region, whose customers are a natural fit with ours. We are truly excited to become a part of this incredible network."

Jeff Steichen, owner of both Showbox and Northgate Music Theatre, stated, "TicketsWest has earned the renewal and the new contracts due to their tireless efforts to provide quality service and a conscious effort to create value for their clients, despite the challenges faced in the marketplace. The addition of the Rudy's stores to the regional outlet network makes the signing of these new agreements an even better business decision for us. With the strategic locations of the Rudy's stores, our younger demographic, those without access to credit cards, can get advance tickets to our shows with very little effort."

"Showbox is an important client for our Seattle operation and we are extremely excited that the ownership has provided us with a vote of confidence in extending and adding to our current contracts," stated Don Crouch, project manager for Puget Sound TicketsWest. "The Northgate theatre is the most exciting new venue to open in years and we look forward to assisting in making it a huge success."

"This is the type of strategic alliance that we work towards in all of our markets and it is a cornerstone in the continuation and expansion of the TicketsWest product," stated Jack Lucas, vice president, TicketsWest. "As TicketsWest continues to add more clients to its network, we want to ensure that we focus on a high level of customer and client services and satisfaction."

Liquid Audio Sold To Geneva Media For $3.2 Million

Liquid Audio, Inc. has sold its digital music fulfillment business to Geneva Media, LLC, an affiliate of Anderson Merchandisers, LP, one of the nation's leading media distributors, for $3,200,000. Liquid Audio has also transferred ownership of "Liquid Audio" related trademarks to Geneva.

The privately held Geneva Media will purchase assets that include Liquid Audio's distribution technology and infrastructure. The transaction is expected to be completed by January 24, 2003.

Anderson's agreement with Liquid Audio includes the transfer of essential employees located at the company's research and development headquarters in Redwood City. In addition, Liquid Audio's co-founder, Gerry Kearby, will head Anderson's new digital media division.

"This is a significant moment in the history of the music business. The fact that one of the largest distributors of physical product has recognized the unlimited potential of the electronic sale of music clearly demonstrates that this will be a huge part of our industry's future," said Doug Morris, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group. "Anderson's announcement is similar to the first flicker of an electric light bulb — the music business has always been a packaged goods business and now it will be complimented by electronic distribution. This is the beginning of a revolution and Universal is excited to be a part of it."

"This acquisition provides the perfect promotion vehicle for our physical distribution business," said Charlie Anderson, CEO of Anderson Merchandisers. "In addition, it will strategically position retailers to participate in the industry's legitimate downloading future."

Liquid Audio, Inc. was formed in 1996 and provided record labels, artists and retail websites the software, infrastructure and services for the secure digital delivery of media over the Internet. Today, the company is pursuing a dissolution while exploring dispositions of its remaining assets.

AOL Time Warner Posts Big Loss in 4th Q

NEW YORK (AP) — Fourth-quarter losses skyrocketed at AOL Time Warner Inc. as the struggling media conglomerate took a staggering $45.5 billion charge to account for the company's plunging value. But without that goodwill writedown, AOL said its results actually beat Wall Street estimates.

Separately, the company announced Ted Turner is stepping down from his role as AOL Time Warner's vice chairman. The former cable TV mogul wants to spend more time on his philanthropic endeavors, AOL chief Richard Parsons said.

"He's concluded now is the right time to make more space for his other activities," Parsons said in a conference call with analysts.

Turner told Parsons late Tuesday that he would step down, effective in May.

In the three months ending Dec. 31, AOL said Wednesday it lost $44.9 billion, or $10.04 per share, compared with a loss of $1.8 billion, or 41 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of 2001.

Revenue rose 8 percent to $11.4 billion.

Not counting one-time items, AOL said it would have earned 28 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were predicting 26 cents per share, with revenue of $11.2 billion.

The announcements were made after the markets closed. AOL stock closed higher, up 30 cents per share at $13.96 on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares dropped 9 percent early in the extended session.

Executives said they expect 2003 revenue to grow "in the mid-single-digits" and earnings before taxes, depreciation and amortization to be essentially flat. Analysts had been forecasting roughly 5 percent growth in revenue.

Two years after AOL and Time Warner's $106 billion merger, which could be considered the crowning moment of the Internet boom, the company has been forced to justify the rationale for the deal, overcome questions about its accounting and plot a massive turnaround.

The top executives who assembled the merger are gone, including America Online co-founder Steve Case, who announced his resignation as AOL-Time Warner chairman this month.

The bright spot has been Time Warner's media properties, which include CNN, Warner Music, Time and People magazines and the Warner Bros. film division that boasts blockbuster franchises like "Harry Potter" and "Lord of the Rings."

The weak link has been the AOL online division, which now hopes for a jolt from expanding high-speed Internet access and rolling out new music, information and shopping services.

AOL Time Warner this week also sold its 8.4 percent stake in Hughes Electronics Corp., the parent company of the DirecTV satellite service. Analysts have speculated that AOL will make other cash-raising moves, such as selling its book-publishing division and the Atlanta Braves.

Parsons said he was pleased with the fourth-quarter performance and pledged to "run each of our businesses as well or better than before, with a continued major focus on stabilizing and revitalizing America Online."

The massive goodwill writedown disclosed Wednesday comes on top of a $54 billion charge taken in the first quarter to account for the company's stock decline. That move at the time gave AOL the biggest quarterly loss in U.S. business history.

So for all of 2002, AOL lost $98.7 billion, or $22.15 per share, on revenue of $41.1 billion. In 2001, the company lost $4.9 billion, $1.11 per share, on revenue of $38.5 billion.

Programming Conference Moves to Vegas

The Associated Press – NEW ORLEANS — The National Association of Television Program Executives plans to permanently move its meeting to Las Vegas, the industry group announced this week during its last meeting in New Orleans.

Starting in 2004, New Orleans' longtime convention customer will start meeting at the Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino and adjoining Sands Expo and Convention Center.

The struggling broadcast organization, known as NATPE, believes it can meet the different needs of all its members under one roof in Las Vegas.

"We think the new venue in Las Vegas will bring us back to the sense of unity and sense of integration," NATPE Chairwoman Peggy Kelly said Wednesday at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

At the convention, NAPTE's members shop for new TV programs, among other tasks, and normally it's a big, star-spangled affair.

But the group's convention has been in a tailspin since the major TV studios pulled out of the January 2002 convention in Las Vegas, opting to meet privately with clients in suites at the Venetian instead of building elaborate sets on the convention floor.

The industry has been hit by consolidation in the media and entertainment industry, a drop in travel following the terrorist attacks and a weak economy that has cut advertising revenue.

The group stunned the New Orleans tourism industry by canceling its 2004, 2007 and 2008 conventions and dramatically scaling back its 2003 meeting, which concluded Thursday.

Eric Bello, vice president of sales for the Venetian and the Sands, said several large conventions have found that they prefer having both trade-show exhibit space and hotel suites as options.

"The convention floor is still your primary interface for new business, but many companies want to be able to bring their key customers to private suites to do business," Bello said.

The Venetian and adjoining Sands have 4,000 hotel suites, meeting rooms and trade-show space under one roof. The hotel and convention complex now hosts 26 of the top 200 trade shows in the country.

In New Orleans, a proposed convention center hotel also would have suites and plenty of meeting rooms and ballroom space. But little progress has been made on that idea.

About 6,000 to 7,000 people participated in the this year's NATPE convention, down from the 20,000 people who came when the group was last here in January 2000.

Bongiovi Entertainment Expands Into South America

Bongiovi Entertainment has entered into an agreement with Brazil based PR Music Mannia for the promotion, distribution, and management of Bongiovi Record's dance/pop artist Ozzie in Brazil and Latin America. Ozzie's first dance single "Light My Fire" is currently receiving radio airplay throughout Brazil. The agreement includes a distribution agreement with Abril Music and covers publicity, retail and radio promotion / distribution as well as concert bookings, management, and merchandising. The agreement spans multiple entertainment mediums including television, radio, and live concerts.

Bongiovi Records' Hip-Hop/Urban artists "Deep Side" were signed to a similar agreement in late 2002. "This is the second artist from our label who will benefit from an international promotion and distribution agreement," said Tony Bongiovi. "We operate in a global market and Ozzie's unique, high-energy Pop/Dance style is a natural in many international territories. Brazil is just the beginning."

40 Markets Add iBiquity's HD Radio Technology

iBiquity Digital Corporation, the sole developer and licensor of HD Radio digital AM/FM broadcast technology, unveiled that broadcast groups and stations in 40 large, midsize and small markets, spanning 26 states and 20 formats will begin broadcasting using iBiquity's HD Radio technology on AM and FM stations in early 2003. Markets include (by market rank); New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Philadelphia, Houston, Boston, Detroit, Atlanta, Miami, Seattle, Baltimore, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Cleveland, Cincinnati, San Jose, Milwaukee, Middlesex-Somerset-Union NJ, New Orleans, Raleigh, West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, Monmouth-Ocean NJ, Louisville, Richmond, Birmingham, Greenville-Spartanburg SC, Syracuse, Ft. Wayne IN, Roanoke-Lynchburg, Morristown NJ, Jackson MS, Charleston WV, Morgantown WV, Cedar Rapids and Lafayette IN. Four unranked markets will also rollout HD Radio services; Forest VA, Price UT, Raymond VA and White Oak GA. Formats include rock, urban, ethnic, country, classical, news/talk and more.

Broadcaster groups and stations include: iBiquity Digital's founder Infinity Broadcasting, as well as Clear Channel Radio, Cox Radio, Inc., Entercom Communications Corp., Radio One Inc., Hispanic Broadcasting Inc., Susquehanna Radio Corp., Bonneville International Corp., Greater Media, Spanish Broadcasting System, Beasley Broadcast Group, Journal Broadcast Group, Buckley Broadcasting, Capitol Broadcasting Company, Inc., Chicago Public Radio, Cleveland Classical Radio, WCGA-AM, Cram Communications, Inc., Crawford Broadcasting Company, Crystal Boynton Beach, Inc., Eastern Utah Broadcasting, Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting Company, Federated Media, Fenix Broadcasting Corp., Gee Communications, Inc., Hunter Broadcast Group, Kaspar Broadcasting, KZIA, Inc., Multicultural Radio Broadcasting Group, New World Broadcasting, OneCom, Inc., Perception Media Group, Inc., Renaissance Radio, Inc., Richardson Broadcasting Company, Sellers Broadcasting-KMRY, South Sound Broadcasting, Spanish Media Broadcasting, WWNO-FM – University of New Orleans, University of South Florida, W&B Broadcasting, Inc., West Virginia Radio Corp., WRHC Management Corp., WOLF Radio, Inc., Wood Broadcasting Company, Inc. and WWOZ, Inc.

"Entercom has long been a supporter of the development of HD Radio. We are pleased to be among the first to adopt this new technology that will enhance the clarity, delivery and listening experience of our local programming" said David Field, president and CEO of Entercom. "With this initial conversion of stations in leading markets like Boston and Seattle and the others which will follow, Entercom expects to continue to contribute to the growth of local AM/FM radio by offering this improved and innovative delivery choice for our local listeners."

Richard Marschner, executive vice president and general manager, Cleveland Classical Radio stated, "Classical music delivered digitally leveraging HD Radio technology will create a complete listening experience for our faithful local listeners. In addition to the enhanced sound quality and compositions and artist information displayed on new HD Radio receivers, the ability to offer continued enhancements such as on-demand audio and advanced data services at the push of a button offers endless opportunities for what radio broadcasters can offer listeners as the technology evolves."

iBiquity Digital's HD Radio technology transforms today's radio experience by allowing AM/FM broadcasters to transmit, seamlessly, digital quality audio as well as integrated wireless data alongside today's analog-based broadcasts. HD Radio digital receivers, such as those being developed by Kenwood USA, Visteon, Alpine, Delphi, Harman Kardon, JVC, Sanyo and others, will enable consumers to receive these signals with improved audio fidelity that matches existing CD quality. HD Radio technology will also allow for the development of additional on-demand interactive audio and wireless data services, including traffic reports, weather alerts, breaking news, sports highlights, market updates, radio program information and much more.

McHenry Tichenor, president and CEO, Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation stated, "As the largest Spanish language radio broadcasting company in the U.S., Hispanic Broadcasting is dedicated to offering premier services to millions of our listeners. The conversion to digital broadcasting using HD Radio technology will revolutionize the way Latino communities from the beaches of Miami to the neighborhoods of LA will experience the rhythms and beats of their local radio. We at Hispanic Broadcasting have eagerly awaited HD Radio and look forward to bringing our listeners a host of new services that go beyond the traditional audio experience that radio offers today."

"Broadcasters across the U.S. have embraced HD Radio technology as the next generation of radio. HD Radio technology will change the way consumers experience local AM/FM and will enable new offerings to transform radio into the world of digital entertainment and all it has to offer," said Robert J. Struble, president and CEO, iBiquity Digital Corporation. "We couldn't be more pleased with the initial rollout of HD Radio throughout all of our partners' industries including broadcasting and consumer electronics, and this is only the beginning."

New Director, Chairman Named At Philadelphia Music Alliance

The Philadelphia Music Alliance has undergone recent changes including a new executive director, elected a new chairman, and has moved to larger offices.

Holly Drauglis has been appointed PMA's executive director. She comes to the Music Alliance from the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc. [NARAS], where she was project coordinator, working on a variety of programs for area music professionals.

William "Biff" Kennedy was elected chairman of the board of directors of the Music Alliance. He is the president/managing director of the Charterhouse Music Group, a Philadelphia-based music industry collective devoted to national radio promotion, artist and label consultation and artist management. Kennedy, most recently vice chairman, succeeds Marc Dicciani, director of the University of the Arts School of Music.

The PMA offices have relocated to 212 N. 12th Street, in historic Sigma Sound Studios, where the "Sound of Philadelphia" originated, dominated the world's airwaves in the 1970s and continues to be a lasting musical force.

The nonprofit cultural organization was founded in June 1986 by music executives and concerned citizens to promote and preserve Philadelphia's musical heritage.

U.S. Opens National Registry of Sounds

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Franklin Roosevelt's fireside chats, Duke Ellington's music and the Rev. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech are among the first 50 items placed on a national registry of sounds which opened Monday.

Other recordings will be added to the list later, the way films are added to an existing registry. Both are overseen by the Library of Congress.

Under a law passed in 2000, the new registry must "maintain and preserve sound recordings that are culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." Those items include records made by inventor Thomas A. Edison in the 1880s and the first recordings of American Indian music.

William Ivey, former head of the National Endowment for the Arts, will chair the board of directors for the National Recording Preservation Foundation, which will accept private gifts and grants to maintain the sounds.

The registry is an addition to the 2.5 million sounds already preserved by the Library of Congress, everything from the huffing and puffing of a steam locomotive to instructions for teaching a parakeet to talk. There's also President Theodore Roosevelt denouncing corporate swindles, Robert Frost reading his poetry and "Buffalo Bill" Cody urging war with Spain over Cuba.

The library isn't the only government repository for sounds; the National Archives and Records Administration has tens of thousands of hours of Capitol Hill speeches, committee hearings and other events. But the library's collection is the most dynamic and diverse. About 100,000 recordings, new and old, arrive in an average year.

The collection has grown so large that the sounds, along with the library's enormous photo archive, will be moved to a new 41-acre complex in Culpeper, Va., about 70 miles southwest of Washington. Storage space is being built into the side of a small mountain, with construction aimed at completion in three years.

Anything stored in Culpeper will be accessible via computer at the library's Madison Building in Washington.

The library, in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution, has a pilot project called "Save Our Sounds" that seeks to preserve recordings such as those made on wax cylinders by inventor Thomas A. Edison and others done on acetate discs in the early 20th century.

"We have every format you can imagine and every problem with every format," said Michael Taft, who helps run the program. "What we have to do is find a way of taking sound off of all of these different media and storing them as computer files in such a way that they will be readable and accessible not just today, but 100, 200 years from now."

Some of the recordings are so fragile that the simple act of playing them can be damaging. And technicians still are learning how best to "digitize" sounds. One of the stumbling blocks is finding standards that will ensure that sounds don't lose their original form when transferred to computer files.

"We don't clean up our recordings in the sense of getting all the pops and clicks and cracks out of them," Taft said. "These recordings are artifacts in themselves. You don't erase part of a painting on a Grecian urn because you didn't like it or it didn't fit what you thought was aesthetic."

Setting priorities on what to save first also is difficult.

"We have to make judgments on what's important," Taft said, "and a hundred years from now some researcher may find we failed to save the one thing he wanted."

Allan B. McConnell Jr., the library's top sound engineer, said it's tough to find technicians with the expertise to work with old sounds and new technology.

"There's plenty of computer whiz kids," McConnell said. "But they don't know the turntables — they don't know how to do a wax cylinder or are even interested, for that matter. I may have six turntables sitting there, but if I can't keep them running, they're no good."

The Library of Congress got it first recording nearly a century ago. It's a short speech by German Emperor Wilhelm II, the "Kaiser Bill" who launched World War I a decade later.

Theodore Roosevelt was the first president whose speeches were recorded. The library has samples of every president since, including dozens by Franklin Roosevelt, inventor of the "fireside chats," which also reside at the library.

Federal law requires that any copyrighted sound be stored at the library. Those that librarians judge will be in demand are kept easily available. A recent example: man-in-the-street interviews after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The library gets gifts of old collections and buys some. It has been collecting oral histories for years, including 12 hours of reminiscences from the last survivors of slavery.

More recently it has emphasized recollections of war veterans. About 4,500 have been recorded, 2,500 of them from World War II servicemen.

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