I would hereby like to request your welcome support in realising my plan: I would like to transfer (and thereby preserve) the "Roma Half Hour" programmes to cassette and then produce the inventory index. One of my reasons for wishing to salvage this material is that, although the quantity of material concerning the Roma available for research purposes is increasing, it is still relatively small in Hungary. My personal experience has been that I have been able to provide assistance in numerous dissertations (in the fields of sociology, ethnography and political science for example) using the material from my programmes, but I feel - and to my mind this does not require further explanation - that many priceless and irreplaceable treasures of Roma culture are being lost, such as the statements made by Tamás Péli, János Bogdán, Zoltán Kovács, László Berki, Dezső Lakatos and Béla Balogh or for that matter Zsolt Csalog and Ottilia Solt's thoughts on the Roma to name but a couple of those, who have already passed away.
The inspiration for this idea came from the broadcast of the 500th programme on 13 August 1999. I have been involved in the programme from the very outset. I would cordially invite you to weigh up my request, and if you deem it worthy of support, then you will perhaps also feel that the amount required to process a single programme HUF 4,000 is not a disproportionate cost. This sum contains all the labour involved, starting with the research (the reels of tape are numbered right back to 1988), then borrowing the reels from the archive, studio time, during which the broadcasts would be transferred from reel-to-reel tape to cassette (the reels and the tape stored on them may not be physically removed from the premises of Hungarian Radio and can only be listened to on a special table, which is why they need to be transferred to cassette); the cassettes have to be listened to and notes have to be taken on their contents to enable them to be processed in a computer data base.
The sponsor would receive by way of a final receipt the inventory catalogue of all 500 programmes, comprising the following: which programme the material is to be found in; in which local community or at which specific event the recording was made; who the presenter and reporter were; the contributors and the subject matter as well as a reference number per programme, on the basis of which access to the material could be granted (according to the current law in force the sound archives of Hungarian Radio are only open for consultation to internal employees and copying for the use of external individuals and organisations is only allowed to take place in return for payment. Those responsible for preparing broadcasts are prohibited from handing over any material. The inventory catalogue would in this context represent a considerable aid to external researchers of a kind not otherwise available, enabling them to gain an insight into the primary sources they can add to their existing ones, expanding their collection of material).
The five hundred programmes would cost HUF 2 million (calculated on the basis of the aforementioned figure of HUF 4,000 each).
If you deem this project worthy of support, I would undertake to have the task completed by 31 December 2000 and would pass on the final inventory disc to the sponsor,
Ilona Varga, Editor-in-Chief, "Roma Half Hour," Hungarian Radio
Budapest 10 November 2000
Purposes for which the Inventory Disc may be used:
1) In order to guarantee complete freedom of access, copies of the disc will have to be sent to every public library;
2) Many university and college students elect to write their degree dissertations on the subject of minorities, therefore the inventory disc would represent a valuable research source and resource for universities and colleges (primarily in the fields of sociology, social worker training, teaching and teacher training, in institutions and more recently at the National Police Officer Academy).
3) Primary and secondary schools could also benefit from using the archive as part of the curriculum covers knowledge of cultures and peoples. One of the biggest problems facing teachers is a chronic lack of material in this field, particularly when they wish to give lessons on the Roma. On the disc they would find not only material destined for use in lessons in class, but also a wealth of information about the successes or failures encountered in the course of experiments conducted in various parts of the country in terms of educating Roma pupils (conferences, contributions made by both Roma and non-Roma teachers, pupils' stories, study circles, camps, acting classes, the failures of further education, its successes, parents' views on learning etc.).
4) The disc could act as an excellent basis for an inter-school competition based on knowledge about the Roma, which could be organised at local, regional or even national level.
5) The disc could provide a great deal of help to representatives of both the written and the electronic press in preparing for interviews or in actual interviews themselves for all journalists working in the field of the Roma.
6) Roma research ateliers, institutions specialising in methodology, cultural associations, Roma Community Centres and local authorities at county level should all be supplied with copies.
7) At public events the contents of some of the broadcasts could provide useful material from which to quote, such as myths of origin, folk beliefs, traditional crafts or the life story of an ordinary person. It could also be used as a source of quotations from the deceased when their lives are being celebrated on the anniversary of their death.
8) The disc would be irreplaceable in the event of - and I cherish fond hopes that this will become a reality one day - a sound archive being set up.
9) If it were to be translated, the material compiled in the course of the last ten years could be of interest beyond the confines of Hungary and its neighbours.
From 1 May onwards I began compiling a list of the numbers given to each broadcast contained in the archives of Hungarian radio. Having traced the numbers, I proceeded to borrow 25 to 30 broadcasts a week, 5 to 6 reels of which I sent to the technician each day. I then assigned a broadcast number and date to each completed cassette.
I June I began listening to and transcribing details of the cassettes. If I were to listen to 5 to 6 cassettes a day I will have listened to them all by sometime in October.
From July onwards, the work of putting the information on to floppy disc began and if all proceeds according to plan the work will be over by the end of December 2000.
Person in charge of the project:
Place of Employment: Hungarian Radio, Sándor Bródy Street 5-7, 1800 Budapest.
Telephone: 06-30 9 649 454
Fax: 06-1 217 4633.
Complete Processing of One Programme: HUF 4,000
Complete Processing of 500 Programmes on to floppy disc: HUF 2 million.
Amount requested by way of sponsorship: HUF 2 million.
Participants in the Production of the Inventory:
Sándor Hegedűs: Journalist, teacher.
Ilona Varga: Journalist, Editor-in-Chief of the "Roma Half Hour".
Ilona Varga is responsible for carrying out the research work, ensuring the technician is given a regular supply of reels and performing the requisite administrative formalities (the reel numbers and the date of broadcast have to feature on the cassette). Ilona Varga is also responsible for listening to and noting the contents of the material).
Fee: HUF 1.5 million.
Sándor Hegedűs is responsible for transferring the information on to computer disc. His task involves the accurate recording of the data and creating the search engine.
Fee: HUF 500,000.