Lost & Found Sound

Lost & Found Sound, our Peabody Award-winning series heard on NPR’s All Things Considered, explores American life through recorded sound. Richly layered tales chronicling people possessed by sound who shaped the sonic landscape of the nation. Home recordings and historic broadcasts, unusual archival audio artifacts, endangered sounds, sounds on the verge of extinction, vanishing voices, the merging of languages — how sound shapes history, and history has been shaped by sound.

Created in 1999 by The Kitchen Sisters with Jay Allison, this Peabody, Clarion & Webby award-winning series brought together some of the most respected producers and storytellers in public radio with artists and NPR to create this imaginative series. Liberace & the Trinidad Tripoli Steel BandFrench Manicure: Tales from Vietnamese Nail Shops in America; Cigar Stories, WHER: 1000 Beautiful Watts; Tony Schwartz: 30,000 Recordings Later — more than 80 stories make up this series. Lost & Found Sound was supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“An astounding documentary series.” —The Washington Post

“Lost & Found Sound is beyond description.” —Tom Waits

The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall and Rise of Thomas Alva Edison Part I. The inventor of the repeating telegraph, the incandescent light bulb, the kinetoscope, x-rays, and the electric pen—Edison became to be known as “The Wizard of Menlo Park”. When he died at 84, he held 1,093patents. “But of all of my inventions,” Edison said, “I liked the phonograph best.

The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall and Rise of Thomas Alva Edison Part II—The Competition.  The recorded legacy of the near-deaf inventor of the talking machine.

Tony Schwartz: 30,000 Recordings Later

Portrait of the Artist as an Answering Machine

Cigar Stories: El Lector, He Who Reads

Tennessee Williams: The Pennyland Recordings

A Man With a Horn

21st Century Cylinders

Sam Phillips & the Memphis Recording Service

R.A. Coleman’s Electronic Memories

WHER—1000 Beautiful Watts, Part I
They went on-air October 29, 1955, in Memphis, Tennessee, and stayed there for 17 more years — WHER: The First All-Girl Radio Station in The World.

WHER—1000 Beautiful Watts Part II
As the world changes around them in the late 1960s, the nation’s first all-girl station evolves from all-music to a more news and talk driven format.

Walkin’ Talkin’ Bill Hawkins
Bill Hawkins was Cleveland’s first black disc jockey. He was known for a jiving, rhyming style that had influence throught the industry and earned him many imitators. He also had a son he never knew. Lost and Found Sound sends that son — William Allen Taylor — back to Cleveland to find out more about his father.

House of Night
Thirty years ago, Guy Tyler, an amateur ethnographer, began recording Emmett Van Fleet, the last of the Mojave creation song singers. Over the course of several years, Tyler spent his weekends and holidays meticulously recording the 525 song cycle that recounts the legend of the creation and origin of the Mojave people. These recently rediscoverd recordings have been unheard for decades.

French Manicure
Arriving in this country, Vietnamese immigrants have looked for a place to make their own economic niche. Many found one as manicurists. They not only acquire a new set of professional skills, but a new identity as well. Lost and Found Sound looks at how these immigrants adjust to a new life.

A Man Tapes His Town
Eddie McCoy is an unlikely historian. He grew up and has lived his whole life in Oxford, North Carolina — a tobacco town of some 10,000 people. When he was injured in a car accident and couldn’t keep working, he found a tape recorder and started interviewing people. His work is a unique window on small town life in the South.

Persuading the Dead
The a cappella group The Persuasions decided to do an album of Grateful Dead songs. As “The Dead” have been icons of sub-culture since the mid 60’s, and have inspired more than one generation of devotees (Deadheads), they knew that covering the harmonies would not suffice. They would have to rediscover AND reinvent the music – both for themselves, and the audience.


Home Movie Day
The Kitchen Sisters explore lost and found film and the world of found footage and ephemeral films, and the people who make, archive and collect home movies and amateur films. A project of Lost and Found Sound.

Liberace & the Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band
In 1967, the Esso Trinidad Tripoli Steelband caught the ear of one of the most popular entertainers of the day: Liberace. The flamboyant pianist was so taken by this new, luminous sound that he took the renamed Trinidad Tripoli Steelband on tour with him for two years.

Green Street Mortuary Band
Lost and Found Sound looks at the Green Street Mortuary Band from San Francisco’s Chinatown. More than 300 Chinese families a year hire the band to give their loved ones a proper and musical send-off through the streets of Chinatown. For more than 50 years, this amateur band performed for its community at nearly every big event.

Sofia Coppola Age 5
As the Academy Awards approached, the Lost and Found Sound archives from 1977 presented a home recording of 5-year-old Sofia Coppola. Coppola was being interviewed by her father, Oscar winner Francis Ford Coppola, who asked his daughter to talk to her future adult self. Coppola was up for two awards and was the first American woman nominated for best-director.