by Michael Lauck
The UFO mystery is not a 20th century phenomenon, but it did in many ways come into prominence in the 20th century. Serious study of UFOs began around World War II and thrived in the following decades. During this golden age of UFO study radio was the dominant form of electronic media. Although film and television existed, radio was a much more important source of timely news and information. Also during this time UFO investigators would find audio recording devices much more portable, reliable and affordable than film equipment. All of this led to an incredible amount of information from the golden age of UFO study being stored in audio formats.
This should not come as a terrible surprise. Even in today’s so-called digital age that finds even children carrying phones that stream multimedia and record video, audio remains an important part of the UFO community. Nationally syndicated radio shows and Internet podcasts allow researchers, witnesses and even debunkers to spread their stories and theories to interested parties all over the world. Of course, these modern UFO programs are easy to find. Where can you find the recorded lectures, interviews and radio shows of yesterday?
Years ago Wendy Connors took up the cause of collecting, preserving and restoring vintage UFO related audio recordings. She started a project called Faded Discs that created an archive of these materials and made them available on CD to fellow researchers. After retiring from active research she decided to place her materials on the Internet library site archive.org which can be found by searching for “Faded Discs” or “Wendy Connors.” You can now stream over 250 hours of vintage material or download them as convenient MP3 files. Although there is some variation in audio quality, they material was restored and remastered for CD so most files are of a decent quality. The files are grouped into collections with descriptions of each file.
The obvious and immediate problem with the Faded Discs archives is that there is so much material! You could listen for ten solid days without sleep and still not get through it all. Luckily, the collections can help direct you to material that will be of most interest, although ultimately if you have a serious interest in UFOs you will probably want to listen to almost all of the collections! To help guide your listening, Podcast UFO presents this short guide to the Faded Disc collections.
Probably the best starting point for most listeners are the four collections called UFOLOGY: A Primer In Audio. The first, covering 1939 to 1959 (https://archive.org/details/UFOLOGYAPrimerInAudio19391959Guide), includes 101 tracks for about five hours of listening. In this collection you will find interviews with an air raid warden present at the Battle of Los Angeles and Kenneth Arnold as well as entertainment radio programs dealing with flying saucers. There are also tracks featuring Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Albert K. Bender, Ivan Sanderson and Father William Gill. The second collection features material from 1946 to 1989 collected from the UK and Australia (https://archive.org/details/UFOLOGYAPrimerInAudioUKAUS19461989Guide). It includes over 50 tracks and about 33 hours of material. There are many news reports and even tracks concerning the Bentwaters incident. The third and fourth UFOLOGY: A Primer In Audio collections are two volumes covering 1947 to 1969 (https://archive.org/details/WendyConnors-UfologyAPrimerInAudio19471964Volume12ndEdit. and https://archive.org/details/UFOLOGYAPrimerInAudio19471964Volume2Guide). Both have about 30 tracks and about 24 hours of material. Volume One includes The Case For Flying Saucers with Edward R. Murrow, Mike Wallace interviewing Donal Keyhoe and even Gray Barker’s radio program. In Volume Two you will find several 1960s era radio shows with interviews of major UFO researchers, a NICAP press conference after the famous Hynek “marsh gas” explanation, a copy of Frank Edwards’ Flying Saucers: Serious Business record album and more.
The rest of the Faded Discs collections are a bit more specialized. The Contactees (https://archive.org/details/FadedDiscsArchiveSaucerology) has over 30 hours of material over 48 tracks. There are several interviews and lectures from well known contactees George Adamski and George Van Tassel but lesser known figures form the period such as Major Wayne Aho, Daniel W. Fry, Woodrow Derenberger and Rhinehold O. Schmidt are well represented as well. Cops and Soucers: Law Enforcement and UFOs 1957 to 1981 (https://archive.org/details/CopsSaucersLawEnforcementAndUFOs19571981) includes just under 12 hours of material on 41 tracks. The highlight of the collection is probably the half dozen recordings regarding the Socorro sighting, including two short interviews with Lonnie Zamora. Profiles in UFOLOGY (https://archive.org/details/ProfilesInUfologyMajorDonaldE.KeyhoeDr.JamesE.McDonaldFrankEdwardsGuide) includes over 30 hours of material over 58 tracks that focus on Major Donald Keyhoe, Dr. James E. McDonald and Frank Edwards. There are several other interviews with other researchers as well, including Ivan T. Sanderson, Desmond Leslie, Dr. Adolph G. Dittmar and Robert Gribble. Another collection that will be of interest to many is the Project Blue Book Guide (https://archive.org/details/ProjectBlueBookGuide). It has almost 100 tracks and over 28 hours of audio related to Blue Book including tracks with Dr. Hynek, Captain Edward Ruppelt, General Nathan Twining and Al Chop.
Rounding out the Faded Discs archive are several more interesting groupings. First are two collections dealing with close encounters. CEIII Humanoid Encounters (https://archive.org/details/CEIIIHumanoidEncountersGuide) is comparatively short at just over 13 hours and 34 tracks but it includes a Leonard Stringfield lecture from 1977 and Silas Newton on the Aztec crash. CEIV: An Audio History Of Alien Abduction And Animal Mutilation 1957 to 1976 (https://archive.org/details/CEIVAnAudioHistoryOfAlienAbductionAndAnimalMutilation19571976Guide) includes just over 25 hours of audio over 56 tracks. There are a couple of episodes of science fiction radio shows in this collection, but there are also several recordings featuring Betty and Barney Hill, Raymond Fowler and Betty Andreasson, the Pascagoula case and Travis Walton. The Hotline Reports from National UFO Reporting Center collection (https://archive.org/details/HotlineReportsNationalUFOReportingCenterGuide) is exactly what you would expect from the title, with five hours of reports. Finally, the last collection from Faded Discs is called the High Strangeness Guide (https://archive.org/details/HighStrangenessGuide). It only has about 11.5 hours of material, but includes Ray Palmer and Richard Shaver on the Shaver mystery, lectures by Gray Barker, Albert K. Bender and John Keel and even a discussion of MoMo, a Bigfoot-like creature associated with UFOs in the early 1970s, by Hayden Hewes.
Although the Faded Discs collections on archive.org should keep any UFO enthusiast busy for quite some time, it should be noted that they are not the only vintage UFO materials on the site. There are several episodes of Long John Nebel’s Party Line radio show, podcasts and much, much more available. All you have to do is search.