Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Greg Fadick On Tape Machines

I thoroughly enjoyed David B.’s post on magnetic tape and Dave M.’s comments on carts. Thought you might like a few pictures of the “evolution” of the tape machines we used.

First, is the machine a lot of us cut our teeth on, the Magnacorder PT-6. My first station (KCLA) actually used these not only for recording, but also for playback of commercials and promos on the air, which was a challenge as the machines took about 2 1/2 turns of the reels to come up to speed, making it necessary to hit the switch for the spot several seconds before you wanted the audio to start.

Next is the workhorse of KAAY, the Ampex 351. The transport controls on these used some pretty large relays, which meant they made a rather satisfying “ca-chunk” sound when you hit Play. Incredible machines, as evidenced by the fact that they were introduced in around 1950 and still in use at KAAY and a lot of other stations in the late 70’s and even into the 80’s.

Finally, the Ampex AG-440. Starting in the early 70’s, this is what we considered to be the Rolls Royce of tape machines. There’s a lot of fond memories of material David B. and I produced on one of these in the old KLAZ production room.

Hope you enjoy.



  1. I can remember working with all three types. The PT6 was the production room recorder at my first job at KWCB and several other places I worked. I'm pretty sure we had some of the Ampex 351s at KARN in the 70s, and Alpha Productions (the production wing of the Snider Corp. in the 70s) used the Ampex AG-440. I got to sub for Alpha manager Ted Small one week while he was on vacation. The highlight was getting to run a recording session with John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

    Skip Kendel

  2. Here's more about some of the KAAY Ampex 351 tape machines. When its West 7th Street studio was condemned for a highway off-ramp, the State of Arkansas bought all of the KAAY equipment and then auctioned it as scrap. Pat Walsh was waiting and bought a lot that included the KAAY Ampex 351's for a few cents per pound. Those tape machines were still in service at Cottondale Lane in 1983, although by that time very little advertising was being recorded on them.