Audio Tape – How Quaint

When we cleaned out the house last month, a lot had to be thrown away. There were certain items, however, where I drew the line. Specifically, I kept audio tapes. These little five and seven inch reels chronicle my time in radio.

I know I work in television, but in many ways I still maintain my undying love for radio. It’s where my broadcasting career started. In high school, it was the career I lusted after.

Radio has changed. What I found romantic has been beaten out of the medium by national chains and their bean counters. I still love radio.

Unfortunately, my audio tapes represent a dead storage format. I’m not sure audio tape recorders are made anymore. I don’t have one.

We used to have a very nice audio deck at the TV station. Where it is now is a mystery to me. Audio, like everything else, is recorded digitally, not on tape.

Luckily, my friend Rick still has two audio decks in his basement. One is in the studio, the other sadly sits in storage. Even the deck in the studio needed to be re-cabled before we could roll on the tapes.

They’re too nice to chuck, too dated to use.

First, we listened to an aircheck from the early 1970s. I was working at WBT in Charlotte, NC. 1110-WBT was a blowtorch – a 50,000 watt AM station that could be heard from Canada to Florida (and we had a jingle which claimed just that).

I thought I was a pretty good disk jockey then. Wrong. This aircheck will never see the light of day again.

There were a few things of note on the tape. Our hourly IDs were voiced by Johnny Olsen, who was the announcer on virtually every Goodson-Toddman game show of the era. Rick, who can recognize most contemporary VO guys, drew a blank.

Trust me, back then he was immediately recognizable.

This tape was meant to get me a job. In order to attract some attention, I opened with a medley of jingle singers trying to sing my name – and failing. That was actually pretty cool.

The other tapes included more recent airchecks, a few custom jingles and the “TM Song.” TM, a jingle company in Dallas, produced a sales presentation jingle, singing all their clients call letters.

There’s just no way I could have let these tapes become unplayable. And now, they’re stored digitally and protected from another era of electronic obsolescence.

Blogger’s note: I have worked on this audio for over an hour. How frustrating!

For some reason you sometimes have to click on the play button twice. I wish I knew why. Adding this reminder is much simpler than fixing it.

4 thoughts on “Audio Tape – How Quaint”

  1. Johnny Olsen was the “come on down!” guy on The Price Is Right for a whole generation, wasn’t he? I remember when he died, it was a sad day.

    I have stacks and stacks of Memorex 120-minute cassettes chronicling my days in college radio (WESU in Middletown). I really should digitize some of them one of these days. Every once in a while I’ll pull one out and stick it into the tape deck in my car (the only working cassette deck left in my life). The music brings back a set of good memories, but listening to myself at the age of 19-20 … owch!!

  2. Listening to my teenaged self has always been painful….so that’s probably why I got out of radio so quickly. I have cassettes and reel to reels from when I was a DJ on WVOF and WSHU. I remember learning to rip and sort wire copy from the AP machine, studying to get my FCC license, and having an engineer scare the crap out of me about transmitter readings.

  3. Ahh yes, the old audio tape. I have a bunch of it somewhere, back from when I was in college radio as well, at WFCS WWUH and WRTC. I haven’t heard the reels in years, but still own a cassette deck–which during my recent move one of my friends called an “antique!”

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