First Episode Of 'All Things Considered' Is Headed To Library Of Congress

Mar 29, 2017
Originally published on March 29, 2017 7:49 pm

Quick quiz: What do Judy Garland's rendition of "Over the Rainbow," N.W.A's seminal Straight Outta Compton and the inaugural episode of NPR's All Things Considered have in common?

That little riddle just got a little easier to answer on Wednesday: The Library of Congress announced that all three "aural treasures" — along with roughly two dozen other recordings — have been inducted into its National Recording Registry.

"These sounds of the past enrich our understanding of the nation's cultural history and our history in general," Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said in a statement. The release also notes that these titles have been inducted for "their cultural, artistic and historical importance to American society and the nation's audio heritage."

Below, take a listen to a piece from the debut of All Things Considered, which focused on May Day protests against the Vietnam War on May 3, 1971, roughly one month after NPR itself got its start.

"It is such an honor and a privilege to be brought into this distinguished company," said Susan Stamberg, who has been with NPR since the very start, and had a 14-year run as host of All Things Considered, beginning in 1972.

"For the sounds that we made on the first day to be right up there with Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' speech or Neil Armstrong's first words spoken by a human being on the moon — that's very lofty company for us."

Now, with the first All Things Considered — plus other 2016 inductees such as Barbra Streisand's 1964 debut, "People," and the Brooklyn Dodgers' and New York Giants' last game at the Polo Grounds — the total number of works on the National Recording Registry comes to 475.

To see more about the induction, and what NPR eminences have to say about it, head right here.

The staff of All Things Considered celebrated the 10th anniversary of the program in 1981.

The List

  • The 1888 London cylinder recordings of Col. George Gouraud (1888)
  • "Lift Every Voice and Sing," by Manhattan Harmony Four (1923) and Melba Moore and Friends (1990)
  • "Puttin' on the Ritz," by Harry Richman (1929)
  • "Over the Rainbow," Judy Garland (1939)
  • "I'll Fly Away,," The Chuck Wagon Gang (1948)
  • "Hound Dog," Big Mama Thornton (1953)
  • "Saxophone Colossus," Sonny Rollins (1956)
  • The Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds, announced by Vin Scully (September 8, 1957)
  • Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs, Marty Robbins (1959)
  • The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery, Wes Montgomery (1960)
  • "People," Barbra Streisand (1964)
  • "In the Midnight Hour," Wilson Pickett (1965)
  • "Amazing Grace," Judy Collins (1970)
  • "American Pie," Don McLean (1971)
  • All Things Considered, first broadcast (May 3, 1971)
  • The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, David Bowie (1972)
  • The Wiz, original cast album (1975)
  • Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975), Eagles (1976)
  • Scott Joplin's Treemonisha, Gunter Schuller, arr. (1976)
  • Wanted: Live in Concert, Richard Pryor (1978)
  • "We Are Family," Sister Sledge (1979)
  • Remain in Light, Talking Heads (1980)
  • Straight Outta Compton, N.W.A (1988)
  • Rachmaninoff's Vespers (All-Night Vigil), Robert Shaw Festival Singers (1990)
  • Signatures, Renée Fleming (1997)
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Now let's consider something else here. Or maybe let's consider a few more things. Or actually, how about all the things? - which is what NPR's afternoon news show has tried to do for more than four and a half decades.


ROBERT CONLEY, BYLINE: From National Public Radio in Washington, I'm Robert Conley with All Things Considered.



That's how the first broadcast of All Things Considered started on May 3, 1971. We're hearing it now because that broadcast is one of 25 recordings being added to the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress.

STEVE LEGGETT: The selection was meant to kind of highlight the diversity of America's recorded sound heritage.

GREENE: Steve Leggett helps run that registry, which has been preserving audio since 2002.

MARTIN: There's a lot of music in the registry - all kinds, from a Radiohead rock song to old field recordings of folk and traditional music. There are famous speeches, even a comedy album by George Carlin.

LEGGETT: We have made a big push the last few years to improve the preservation of radio programs. And All Things Considered and NPR has just had such a seminal importance, you know, in American culture, in politics and just keeping people informed the last 40 years plus.

GREENE: When All Things Considered launched in 1971, the news of the day was a massive Vietnam War protest in Washington, D.C. And host Robert Conley told listeners they would hear the news covered differently.


CONLEY: Rather than pulling in reports from all over town, we thought we might try to take you to the event to get the feel, the texture, the sort of day it's been.

JEFF KAMEN, BYLINE: And here come the police.


KAMEN: One demonstrator knocked down by a motor scooter policeman.

Sergeant, excuse me. Jeff Kamen, National Public Radio - is that a technique, where the men actually try to drive their bikes into the demonstrators?

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE SERGEANT: No, it's no technique. We're trying to go down the road, and the people get in front. What are you going to do? You don't stop on a dime.

GREENE: Taking you to the scene. That first broadcast was heard on about 90 public radio stations. Other topics considered that day include an interview with a former nurse who had become a drug addict, a reading of World War I poems...

MARTIN: And a barber in Ames, Iowa, who shaved women's legs - 75 cents for the first leg, a quarter for the other. Those stories and more will be preserved at the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry.