Steve Puntillo, an inveterate collector of technological artifacts associated with radio and the recording industry thinks we are.
willing to share his
extensive collection with Fitchburg if the city will help him find a home for it.He
thinks the WIBA studio at 2651 South Fish Hatchery Road could be just the place.Mind you, it's very early in the planning process , the studio is still in use by Clear Channel Communications
, but he's
hoping the idea takes root.Puntillo is owner of Paragon Video & Stereo, 1905 Monroe St., Madison, and has been collecting the early technology associated with communications for more than 50 years.He's
amassed about 6,000 items, including some that can trace their origins to giants of the industry, including Thomas Edison, NikolaTesla and Guglielmo Marconi.Puntillo
thinks the public gains by cultivating an appreciation for the painstaking technological advances that led to the digital age.These weren't intuitive breakthroughs but the result of enormous intelligence, innovation, and "blood, sweat and tears," he
And the opportunity to work with the mechanical forebears of today's technology resonates with those who grew up with the innovations and younger generations who know nothing whatsoever about what transpired previously.Puntillo
recounts a man who visited his
store with his
young grandson.The grandson had no interest in the collection until Puntillo
showed him how sound resonated through a fingernail on a 78 r.p.m. recording on a Victrola.The experience precipitated the child's lengthy interest in analog recording, Puntillo
Today's computer screens offer no physical contact with technology and no hint of the incremental gains made over the last 140 years, he
doesn't expect such a museum to attract 65,000 fans a day like a Badger football game."Thank God it doesn't," he
"A lot of the stuff that's so cool is not really that valuable," such as windup mechanical phonographs and crystal radios, he
Several of the items were once in the collection of the Henry Ford Museum
and the Smithsonian
acquired them "before prices went through the roof," he
estimates that his
collection is worth $600,000 to $1 million and would occupy 9,000 to 12,000 square feet of shelf space.
The collection is now stored at his
business and in five garages.Creating a museum would encourage donations from other collectors, he
said, including a 1950s vintage radio studio that has been restored by a Milwaukee resident.
The old WIBA studio could be part of Fitchburg's cultural center and could perhaps also house the collection of the Fitchburg Historical Society
It would be located southwest of the site for the proposed library.
would approach Clear Channel
proposal if there appears to be enough interest.
Several years ago, he
found a financial backer for his
proposal but the man died suddenly before he
codified the agreement in his
With the right equipment, many audiophiles believe analog recordings "blow the doors off anything done digitally," Puntillo
Puntillo's one request is that he
be allowed to tinker with his
collection whenever he
said there's no point in having amassed such a collection.