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GROOVY VINYL RECORDS HAVE SPUN INTO OBLIVION

SHARE GROOVY VINYL RECORDS HAVE SPUN INTO OBLIVION

Lately they've been banished to shelves in the basement, where they're always on the verge of collapsing sideways into a heap of plastic and cardboard.

Like old National Geographics and used jigsaw puzzles, vinyl records seem to have entered that limbo world now - too potentially useful to throw away, not quite compelling enough to actually use. Just a decade after the introduction of compact discs, vinyl LPs and 45s are fast becoming endangered species of the 20th-century landscape.In their new book, "Going Going Gone: Vanishing Americana," authors Susan Jonas and Marilyn Nissenson include vinyl records along with card catalogs, enclosed telephone booths and wedding-night virgins.

Walk into any mall record store (more often than not called "music and video" now) and it's CDs and tapes as far as the eye can see.

All of which makes vinyl records ripe for nostalgia and maybe even investment opportunity; the baseball cards, perhaps, of the next decade. You may live to rue the day you threw out Bobby Rydell's "The Top Hits of 1963."

But KUER, Salt Lake City's public radio station, has a deal for you, a chance to reacquire all those albums you so hastily got rid of before you realized that the hiss of vinyl spinning on a turntable would sound so nostalgic, before you knew that word "vinyl" itself - once so new-fangled and then so bourgeois - would sound so comforting.

KUER has stacks and stacks of vinyl, which it will be selling Saturday, June 11, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Eccles Broadcast Center, 101 Wasatch Drive. All records - whether it's "The Humpback Whales Do the Classics" or the Beatles' "White Album" - will sell for $2, with proceeds benefiting KUER.

The number of records is now approaching 10,000. About half of them have been donated by KUER listeners. Choices include classical, jazz, Bing Crosby, Elvis and possibly every Broadway musical every recorded. About 6,000 records come from the station's own supply of classical and jazz albums, gathered over the past 30 years.

Some of the records in the "Vintage Vinyl" fund-raiser are definitely collectors items, says KUER membership director Lisa Sewell. "I'm sure some of these records are not and will never be available on CD," she says. As evidence she lists "Baseball Series: Yogi Berra," an LP that teaches the art of catching.

Vinyl records were first introduced in 1948, when Vinylite, a new, non-breakable plastic, was teamed up with the amazing "long-playing record" and its 23 minutes of uninterrupted music.

Before that, records were made of wax and shellac and, before that, rubber. The rubber tended to be uneven, so the needle would skip. The shellac was better but tended to scratch. Vinyl was revolutionary, but all revolutions tend to pale with time.

Vinyl, it turned out, was also prone to scratches and also to warping, and by the late '70s it began to look awfully bulky compared to tapes. The real threat, though, turned out to be CDs. Now, if you look under "records" in the Yellow Pages, you'll be directed to "see Compact Discs."

Although the smaller, independent, alternative rock labels still do vinyl (it's both retro and cheaper), the big record companies don't issue many actual records anymore, says John (Smokey) Koelsch of Smokey's Records.