A different kind of maintenance man: The career of Martin Fisher

Daniel Baumli // Contributing writer

Middle Tennessee State University’s Center for Popular Music is home to an enormous body of music and related materials that are accessible to students and authors for research and studying. An integral piece of the center’s work is the restoration of sound recordings in all forms of media. The man responsible for restoring these sound recordings is Curator of Recorded Media Collection, Martin Fisher.

“I try to get the best sound that I possibly can, and then go from there,” Martin said.

Martin grew up in the small town of Parsons, Tennessee. When he was 2 years old he developed a hernia and required surgery at a hospital in Jackson, Tenn. While he was there, his grandmother got him a blue and white General Electric record player, along with a few Cricket 78 records. This solidified his love of records, and he became an avid collector of records of all genres of music ranging from folk to jazz to rock ‘n’ roll. His love for records spanned beyond just the music — he soon became fascinated with the physical copies themselves.

Martin, a religious man, tends to see the nuts and bolts of things rather than just its finished product. It goes without saying that he prefers a physical copy rather than digital be it music, film or a book. His workstation is admittedly cluttered with a combination of tapes, records, papers and various tools and equipment he uses to restore and edit the recordings that come into the Center. Despite this, he has no problem locating anything he needs for the job at hand.

“Collections come in, they’re counted in the back and if there is any kind of maintenance, like physical cleaning, or repackaging, getting grunge off of tapes, I’ll do it. I’ll take care of that,” Martin said about the recordings he restores, which includes tapes, vinyl records and even digital recordings.

In high school, Martin became involved with his school’s automated radio station. At the University of Tennessee at Martin, he switched his focus from radio production to television production, earning his Bachelors of Science in broadcast communications.

Martin took an internship after college at News Channel 5 in Nashville and was offered a position in production shortly after his internship. During his 18 years at Channel 5, he ran studio cameras, gathered news electronically and just about anything else needed from him for production in the audio and tape division.

Martin applied for a position in MTSU’s Center for Popular music and was hired in September 2005 after multiple friends and acquaintances referred him, telling him he belonged there. It would certainly seem they were right, seeing that 10 years later, Martin is still passionately working in the CPM.

“I’ve really enjoyed working here,” Martin said with a gentle smile. “I hope to make this a career ender right here.”

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