Collector Seeks New Home for Hall of Fame / SL-1995-08-20
By ANNE LEE
Fred Shay of Mt. Arlington is a curator with a cause.
As keeper of the collection of the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame, he is sad to say that there is no place to display it. There used to be. From 1977 to 1984, the Hall of Fame was housed in an old bank building in Freehold Borough. Then it lost its lease, Shay said.
For a time, some of the collection was on loan for display in an Asbury Park hotel. When the hotel went bankrupt, the Hall of Fame had to go to court to reclaim its property, Shay added.
Then there were plans to build a permanent home for the hall in Anaheim, Calif. The site was just outside of Anaheim Stadium, where the California Angels play. Plans were canceled "right about the time of the baseball strike," said Shay, a 1951 Dover High School graduate who once played baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals' affiliate in Allentown, Pa. "Disney was going to be one of the sponsors."
Most of the collection is in storage in Anaheim. Shay and Hall of Fame founder Art Schreiber of Freehold would be happy to have it moved should a sponsor offer the museum a home.
Shay has been connected with the museum almost since its inception. "Art Schreiber came to me because he needed radio shows," he explained. "I collect them."
He estimates he owns more than 45,000 radio shows. Some are in script form; most are on reel-to-reel tapes.
Shay, who spent his working life as a draftsman, also owns 3,000 video feature films.
"I just started collecting one day and it blossomed," he said.
"I've got quite a set-up down in my basement, where it's cool with a dehumidifier."
The Hall of Fame collection started out with radio shows and radio equipment; now it has television and movie shows and equipment too. "I broadened it out myself," he explained. "A lot of our honorees went from radio to TV and motion pictures. Since they went every which way, why not our collection?"
Many of his videotapes are copies of rare old movies he took out on loan from the library of Congress; others are serialized features he borrowed from the archives of movie studios such as Columbia, King Features and 20th Century Fox.
He said he's particularly glad he got those movie rarities; somebody had to. "If I hadn't held onto my hobby of videotaping, of preserving the old films, some of them wouldn't exist today," he said. "The nitrate film is very volatile. It can burst into flame.
"And I suppose from what I understand that the Library of Congress isn't making safety prints; it costs so much they cannot do it."
The process of transferring 16mm films onto videotape is expensive, he noted. It cost him, for instance, $7,200 to copy one 4t/2-hour, 15-chapter movie serial. That included the cost of having the film transported from Pittsburgh to his home in Mt. Arlington in a refrigerated truck.
His film preservation efforts are not always met with enthusiasm by some of the mjor film compnies. "I've been talking to Universal. There's about 40 serials I'd like to tape, but so far they won't allow me to get them out."