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KCRW campaigns for preservation

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KCRW-FM, the flagship public radio station for Southern California, is launching a campaign to preserve its music archive of more than 60,000 recordings. The drive, dubbed the Music Match: A Campaign to Save KCRW's Library, will raise the funds necessary to store the contents of the library as the highest-fidelity digital sound files.

The collection is housed in a 15-by-20-foot room in the Santa Monica-based station's basement, with stacks and shelves of recordings in a variety of formats -- vinyl, reel to reel, cassette, DAT, CD -- and of all genres and eras, from rare jazz performances to the latest indie rock. A significant number of the recordings are rare and irreplaceable. They also include extensive live performances from KCRW's studios that go back more than two decades.

"More than half of the vinyl -- some 8,000 albums -- are releases you'll never find on CD," said Tom Schnabel, KCRW's first music director and host of "Cafe L.A." "Much of it is priceless."

The library is the primary resource for both KCRW's on-air DJs and a 24/7 online music stream. Its resources have inspired soundtracks for such entertainment vehicles as "The Matrix," "Six Feet Under," "Shrek," "Little Miss Sunshine," commercials, video games and more.

The Annenberg Foundation and RealNetworks have provided lead grants of $100,000, and proceeds from this year's benefit concert, A Sounds Eclectic Evening, will go toward the modernization process.

"KCRW is defined by its music," general manager Ruth Seymour said. "All of our music directors and hosts have expanded the library based on their unique tastes with only one thing in common: marvelous artistry."