James U. Steele Vintage Broadcast Microphone Collection

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Collection Details

Collection Dates: 1920 – 1979
Scope and Content Note: The collection consists of over 245 microphones used in the radio and television broadcast industry from 1920 to the late 1960’s. It is worth noting that the collection includes only American manufacturers. From early carbon microphones to modern moving coil types and an extensive number of ribbon microphones, the collection highlights the evolution of microphone technology and design from the very beginning of the radio era. Some truly rare microphones comprise the collection - such as the very first microphone designed by RCA, early examples from Electro-Voice of shotgun microphones over four feet in length, some of the earliest condenser microphones, and iconic microphones like the Shure 55 “Elvis” microphone and the RCA 77 series microphones. It is perhaps the most comprehensive collection of American made microphones ever assembled. Online exhibit of the full collection.
Biographical Note: James U. Steele was President of Radio Kings Bay, Inc., and General Manager of WKBX-FM (K-BAY-106) in Kingsland (Camden County), Georgia, his professional career home since 1989. He was born September 3, 1946 in Chicago, Illinois, but was raised in Meridian, Mississippi, where he would get his initial introduction to his passion for broadcasting.  While In high school in Meridian, Steele was employed after school and on weekends at WTOK-TV (1962-1966) as announcer and studio production; and at WOKK-AM as staff announcer and sales. Steele graduated from the University of Miami in 1968 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Radio-TV-Film and completed his Masters Degree in Mass Communications from the University of Denver in 1970. His career track after graduation included Director of Traffic/Operations, WISH-TV, Indianapolis, IN (1971); Manager, Television Standards & Practices, CBS Television Station Division/WBBM-TV, Chicago, IL (1971-1974); Senior Editor, The NAB Code Authority, New York, NY (1974-1982; Regional Sales Manager, National Association of Broadcasters, Washington, DC (1982-1985); and Manager, Advertising Clearance, Bozell, Inc., New York, NY (1986-1988). Steele married Wendy Levitt in 1984 and together they had two daughters, Jennifer and Erica (UGA Class of 2007).  During his active professional career, he served as Chairman, Georgia Association of Broadcasters (2000); Chairman, Camden County Chamber of Commerce; member, Rotary Club of Camden County; member, Camden Kings Bay Council, Navy League of the United States; member and Treasurer, St. Mary Georgia Airport Authority; and member and Treasurer, Georgia Radio Hall of Fame.
Extent: 245 Vintage Broadcast microphones

Objects in the collection