A seven-inch reel containing a program from the “Frankly Speaking” radio series. “Frankly Speaking” Radio Show records. George Mason University Libraries. Special Collections & Archives. Copyright George Mason University.

What issues were on the minds of Northern Virginians during the beginning of the 1980s?  A collection of public service broadcasts recorded by George Mason University’s GMU Radio offers some clues.  “Frankly Speaking” was a series of weekly radio shows which featured discussions about current topics of interest.  A recently-processed collection, the “Frankly Speaking” Radio Show records, contains 156 recordings from between 1980 and 1984 and notes from each broadcast.

Memo regarding the July 17th episode of “Frankly Speaking” entitled: The Parkway: Where, When, and Why. “Frankly Speaking” Radio Show records. George Mason University Libraries. Special Collections & Archives. Copyright George Mason University.

The Fairfax County Parkway is a 33-mile 4-lane highway which runs from the Fort Belvoir area at U.S. Route 1 in eastern Fairfax County to the Dranesville area at Va. Route 7 west of Tyson’s Corner.  Planning for the Fairfax County Parkway, originally known as the Springfield Bypass, began in the 1970s.  Construction began in 1987 and finally wrapped up (for the most part) in 2012. During construction 55 homes and five places of businesses were uprooted in order to complete the highway.  A July 1981 episode of “Frankly Speaking” entitled The Parkway: Where, When, and Why discussed Parkway plans with Fairfax County opponents and proponents of the project.

Listen to The Parkway: Where, When, and Why

The town of Colchester in eastern Fairfax County was established in 1753 as a tobacco center on the Occoquan River. Thomas Mason, the son of George Mason of nearby Gunston Hall, frequented Colchester, running a a ferry from the north side of the Occoquan to the south side in the later 1700s.  By the end of the 19th century Colchester was in decline and died off, mostly due to the success of rival Alexandria.  In an August 1982 broadcast archaeologists from George Mason University and Fairfax County discussed archaeological surveys of Colchester done during the summer of 1982.

Listen to Digging out History in Virginia

In a December 1982 program entitled Economics and Electioneering, George Mason University faculty member W. Mark Crain discussed the increasing necessity of political candidates to market their campaigns to the public, generating, spending, and sometimes even making, large sums of money.

Listen to Economics and Electioneering

In an episode dealing with the fledgling home-computer market, July 10, 1983’s Computer Tips for Consumers examines the difficulties experienced by first-time users just getting into the home computer market.  The learning curve was steep with early home computers, as there were few standards with respect to software and hardware platforms.  A guest on the show prophetically observes that even though many users have trouble finding appropriate applications of computer technology in the home,  “it is becoming more and more true that computers are being used in every facet of business and… everyday use.  You can hardly function during the day without coming in contact with… a computer.”

Listen to Computer Tips for Consumers

Taken as a whole, the collection provides a look into not only significant issues of the day, but George Mason University’s involvement and community outreach with regard to these issues. The collection is open to researchers for use in Special Collections & Archives.  A finding aid to the collection can be found at:


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