I Know What That Is

No more turntables. No more cartridge machines. Nearly everything I used when I was in radio was gone.

I drove down to the Cox Radio studios in Milford this afternoon. Bob Alvine from Premier Subaru and I were cutting a radio spot. We were escorted into a spotlessly sterile production room with three beautiful studio microphones.

After the session I walked around to the ‘business’ side of the mixing console. No more turntables. No more cartridge machines. Nearly everything I used when I was in radio was gone.

There was one exception. In the corner of the room sat an analog reel-to-reel tape deck.

“I know what that is,” I said to the production director as I stared down at a slotted metal slab affixed to the deck’s surface. It was an edit block.

Back before sound was ingested by computers and sliced up digitally we’d actually find where a specific sound ‘lived’ on audiotape and edit it with a razor blade! I was pretty good as an editor–able to remove the “s” from tomatoes and seamlessly cut music on the beat.

No one does that anymore. The Cox production director works with Adobe Audition. Even more people use Pro Tools. With a few clicks of the mouse sound is displayed as waves then expanded to easily find an edit point.

I guess editing with tape and a razor is another now worthless skill I possess. Seeing the edit block was like being reintroduced to an old friend.

12 thoughts on “I Know What That Is”

  1. A friend of mine who is a fed was disappointed that the mobile surveillance units don’t have reel-to-reel recorders anymore. It was part of her mental image of what the job looked like.

  2. This is EXACTLY the same experience I had when I went to record a commercial for my business in recent months. I was also in radio many years back, and did my share of spot editing from tape by hand. We were still primarily playing actual records when we got one of the first CD players in the market and thought we were Big Time. Things have sure changed.

  3. when the “dot-com bubble” burst about a decade ago, I took a p/t job as a projectionist at a local indie theater. TRUST ME, the razor blade is still a powerful editing tool, not unlike the book/movie “Fight Club”.

  4. I was good at editing phone bits.. for some reason could never get the editing music thing right. I always made a mess of the music. Maybe not enough practice.

  5. Wow! I haven’t seen one of those since my days helping out the music director at WICC-AM in Bridgeport back in the late 70s!

  6. When I started in television, we had a 2″ splicing block and a bottle of oil with iron filings in it… you spliced 2″ helical tape on the diagonal and had to do it between the four scan lines… so the iron filings revealed exactly where the lines were… nowadays… mouse click and you’re done… back then there was no “undo”!

  7. Oh, yes… the trusty ol’ “Editall” block! I remember it, well, having used it myself. Then along came digital! I admit that yes, I do miss the “old days”… but would I want to go back to them? Nope. 🙂 This digital stuff is so much FASTER and dramatically more accurate, too! 🙂

  8. Yup used that my share of times, cutting down carts to fit the promo slots we had available. I may not have been able to cut the ‘s’ off tomatoes, but you never heard a pop when my splices went by.

    I could have a Gates turntable stripped, cleaned and oiled in about 3 minutes. Don’t think I could do that with the current music delivery platforms 🙂

    Save me a space behind the board when you get to Williamsburg. Tied dyed shirts as authentic period costumes. Cool…

  9. I’m still splicing tape. i have my family tapes to convert to CD. Some were recorded off home recorded records. yaknow the ones with two holes in them so the record wouldn’t slip when being cut.

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