WNYC shares previously unreleased recordings of Martin Luther King Jr. interviews

By Mike Janssen

New York’s WNYC has released for the first time recordings of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. interviewed on several occasions in the 1960s by Eleanor Fischer, a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reporter who later worked for NPR. The interviews capture King discussing a wide range of subjects, including his childhood, his adoption of nonviolent resistance tactics, and the Montgomery bus boycott.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy New Delhi

The recordings were among tapes given to WNYC’s archive in 2008 after Fischer passed away. “We are a rich archive in content but not a huge staff of people and we have received many collections,” wrote Archive Director Andy Lanset in an email to Current. “So there is often a lag between when we receive material and when we can do all the important work that needs to be done before we make something public.”

WNYC has no plans to incorporate the recordings into any other projects, but “we hope others will come forward with ideas about how this audio might form the basis of other work,” Lanset wrote.

Fischer interviewed King for a documentary series about Atlanta that she was producing for the CBC. A letter she wrote King to arrange an interview is preserved in the archive of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. Fischer also interviewed Malcolm X in 1961.

The reporter had started her career as a lawyer practicing poverty, criminal and civil rights law before entering journalism. In the early 1970s she opened NPR’s New York bureau.

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