New Orleans Public Library
Date range: 1964-1990
Size of collection:
Guides to the programs (1 cu. ft.)
Source of Acquisition: Donation of Joseph Culotta, Jr., 1993
Terms of Access: Available to registered researchers by appointment
Joseph Culotta, Jr. was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but moved to New Orleans at an early age. After service in the U.S. Navy, Culotta attended Tulane University, where he received a B.A. degree in 1964. Following graduation, he taught chemistry part-time at Tulane's University College and College of Arts and Sciences and at Newcomb College until 1971. He also worked full- time as a Southern regional supervisor for the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, representing veterans and their families before the Veterans Administration.
In 1962 Culotta took over as host of the "American Legion Hour" on New Orleans' WTIX radio station, revising the format of the program to one of comprehensive coverage of Veterans benefits. In May of 1965, he became moderator of "Let's Talk It Over," one of the city's first audience participation discussion programs, which aired on Sunday mornings on WTIX. In 1986, "Let's Talk It Over" moved to WNOE, where it remained until 1990.
In 1984, following his retirement from the Department of Veterans' Affairs, Cullotta began yet another career as a teacher of chemistry, physics and computer literacy at Pope John Paul High School II in Slidell, La. He retired from teaching in 1997.
The collection consists of audiotapes, primarily of the radio call-in/interview program "Let's Talk It Over" (1965-1990). Also included are several tapes of "The American Legion Hour" (1962-1965) radio program and scattered tapes of "Mid-Month in New Orleans" (1969-1981), a taped program heard on approximately the middle Sunday of each month. Programs airing prior to 1980 were recorded on reel-to-reel tape; thereafter, the programs, for the most part, were recorded on cassette tapes. A small series of promotional spots were recorded on radio broadcast cartridges. Approximately 80 audiotapes are unidentified; approximately 50 are undated. Accompanying the audio tapes are photocopies of two sets of guides developed by Joseph Culotta to facilitate access to the tapes:
- Subject guide:
The "subject guide" covers the years 1979-1983. Within each year, programs are listed by date, and the subjects covered on each program are indicated broadly (e.g., "LIBRARIES, WORLD HUNGER, JUVENILE DELINQUENCY, NEW ORLEANS"). The broad subject heading is followed by a somewhat more specific phrase or sentence describing the program (e.g., "LIBRARIES - The real treasure cove," or "NEW ORLEANS - Two legislators talk about problems in the city"). Names of guests are only occasionally given.
- Descriptions of individual programs:
The individual descriptions of each program, covering the years 1965-1990, include a list of the guests who appeared on the program, a list of the subjects discussed, and a narrative description of the program, generally at least half a page long, apparently written by Mr. Culotta after each program aired. These individual descriptions are arranged chronologically. The lists of guests and subjects were used to create the inventory below. The photocopies of the guides are filed in Box 47.
Topics discussed on "Let's Talk It Over" range widely. Political events and social issues on a local, national and even international level figure prominently (e.g., elections and ballot issues on all levels, Riverfront Expressway, Hurricane Betsy, Mississippi River Bridge tolls, legalized gambling, Vietnam, student demonstrations, police brutality, urban renewal, the women's movement). The program also duscussed a virtually unlimited variety of other topics, among them history, popular culture, hobbies, religion, health and medical issues, and education. The list of guests is similarly varied--elected officials, civil service employees, civic and business leaders, educators, religious leaders, attorneys, sports figures and coaches, academics, representatives of organizations, social service agencies, and movements, authors, medical professionals, etc.
The collection also includes 99 snapshots of guests taken before, during, or after the airing of the program. [Sample Photographs]
The tapes are arranged chronologically and numbered individually within each box. Undated and/or partially identified tapes are filed at the end of the chronological series, followed by promotional spots and Culotta's descriptive guides. The earliest tape is from May 9, 1965 and the last from December 30, 1990.
Inventory of Audio Tapes
The inventory was transcribed from the date/name/subject portions of Culotta's descriptions of the individual "Let's Talk It Over" programs (the accompanying narrative description of the program is not included in the inventory). Additionally, notes found on the reel-to-reel boxes of some dated tapes not included in Culotta's descriptions were transcribed in a "Box Notes" field. These "box notes" may or may not accurately describe the contents of the tape.
Researchers should note that many of the recordings of programs, particularly those that aired before 1975, are missing, even though they are described in Culotta's guide. In the inventory below, only programs for which a box and number are recorded are extant. Additionally, the audio quality of some of the recordings is poor.
1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 Undated/Partially Identified Promotional Spots
Thanks to Walter Dunn for database input.
8/21/2001 -- iw