Since I am partial to the audio side of things, I decided to create a site dedicated to publicizing the audio from Jonestown. One thing about this event is the incredible amount of documentation in audio form that is available. I believe that through these tapes, something more can be gained that with just text alone. The FCC tapes depicting how Peoples Temple interacted with the outside world is of particular interest to me. I think that this yields an insight into the cult mentality that is unmatched. I also enjoy using technology to extract more from the recordings.
Upsampling them to WAV format and manipulating them in a good audio program consumes weeks at a time for me. Slowing it down, changing the pitch, even reversing the audio and getting data from the other side of the audio tape, which has “bleeded over” is a favorite pastime. Although it will probably take me a lifetime, I believe that through this, I can gain a personal perspective into Jonestown that few others have. Knowing all of the people and what made them tick is paramount among my goals here, and actually hearing them speak is, in my opinion, the best way to do this.
One of the things that has amazed me is the raw complexity of the organization. To witness a people that put so much time and energy into an idea is, for me, nothing short of addicting. However, it is not all roses. Hearing the voices of the children is probably the hardest for me. I lost a daughter at a very young age, and the pain of that is epic. Trying to understand the dynamic at work that would cause a parent to sacrifice their child is one of the questions that haunt most of my nights.
What this research means to me, is hard to put into words. My poor family, who endures hours of “weird ham radio” reverberating through our house, has come to understand that for me, it is like breathing. I do it, almost instinctively. Why? I could forward the idea that I am curious, but for me, it goes beyond that.
(Ben Ogg’s other article in this edition of the jonestown report is Listening to Jonestown. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)