Not the Record Collection!

After the flood, CKUA tallies the damage to its vinyl stores; it's not as bad as it could have been

“Can’t get no sleeves for my records
Can’t get no laces for my shoes”
— Dire Straits

It could have been worse.

If you have a record collection, or, really, a collection of any kind in your home, you can imagine the anguish that would be caused if it was damaged or destroyed. I am the proud owner of some special vinyl; if anything happened to my House of Pain single for “Shamrocks and Shenanigans,” issued as a 45” on green vinyl through Sub-Pop records, I can’t imagine my emotional state.

The great thing about that paragraph is that you’re not entirely sure if I’m being serious or not.

But a flood is serious; and the record library at CKUA suffered one the morning of Jan. 16; frozen pipes in the sprinkler system burst. The flood went from a stairwell, into the ceiling of the record library, and thousands of records in the jazz section were subjected to the water.

It’s a bad situation, but if not for the quick actions of staff, many more records would have been lost. As soon as they got into work that morning, they worked as a team to move LPs out of the danger area.

“The staff really crushed it,” said Marc Carnes, CKUA’s CEO.

In the end, he says about 2,000 records got wet. About 200 record sleeves are badly damaged. The vinyl can be saved, but the liner notes can’t be. Albums have been sent to a restoration facility to see what can be remediated. Meanwhile, archivists are taking photos of whatever they can.

“Vinyl is really hardy,” said Carnes. “It’s the cardboard that’s the issue when it gets wet.”

The reason it’s so important to take photos and preserve what they can is that many of the albums have notes attached from radio hosts past and present. When current hosts go through the stacks, these notes act like a collective Rosetta Stone of what stands out on the records in the collection. It’s like a series of handwritten Pitchfork reviews. Not only are they great tipsheets, but they are part of the station’s history.

But CKUA is a place filled with vinyl freaks; preserving the records will be a labour of love.

If you are moving your record collection away from any pipes in your house, good on you.