Thursday, April 14, 2011

Russell Wells' Tape Comments

My recollection brings up an incident during a rewind back in '92 when I did a spot dub of each jock. At 3600 feet, this tape stock was thinner than tissue paper ... and even with the utmost in TLC, it both stretched and unraveled. I fixed the tape, but at the expense of a couple of minutes' worth of audio (present on two hours each side of the KAAY and neighboring KARK recording).

The occasional dropouts and distortion? The fact is the tape was a "Concertape" - the low-end Radio Shack brand. I've read a few horror stories about Concertape reels' tendency to shed and gum up a deck, but I think sheer luck otherwise carried the day.

(It's the height of irony that a cheap tape stock intended for speech recording carried the brand name CONCERT Tape!)

Reel tape recorded at 1-7/8 ips (inches per second for the radio-impaired and various young punks out there) typically had a compromised sound quality. Sort of like the difference in recording VHS tape at the 6-hour speed (SLP) vs. the standard 2-hour SP mode. We have 12 glorious hours of archive here, alas at the expense of hearing just how truly awesome that RCA BT50 transmitter sounded. At least one can hear a smidgen of that quality, if not the full deal.

As for that old deck I used, I truly believe the gods of radio past were keeping her alive just long enough to get through this big project. :-/


I'm just old enough to remember ESSO gasoline, and how confused this young'un was seeing ENCO branded gas in Alabama, while it was ESSO across the line in Tennessee. Same logo, same "E" style, but different name.

Most of you know what became of Esso in the U.S.: it became Exxon in (I believe) late 1972. Exxon still markets as Esso in Canada and elsewhere.


Russell, I am also amazed at how some analog media has held up all these years.  Phil North and Mark Larsen had found some old tapes that survived almost 40 years of storage!  Mark had also found parts for his reel-to-reel deck on the Web, repaired it and dubbed his audio over for us.  Phil (Eric Chase) already had things in place, I suppose, in his studios to dub his tapes over.  Phil's tapes were stored in an attic, if I remember correctly...Mark's, I can't remember.

I also have in climate-controlled storage many (non-KAAY related) tapes; hopefully, they'll still be "there" when I need them....

As for you mp3 and iPod generation out there, radio stations used reel-to-reel tapes in many instances, as well as cart tapes, etc.  Barry Mac told me that much of the commercials and jingles you hear here are gleaned from hundreds of tapes found at the KAAY transmitter.  It has taken him many, many hours of tender loving care to build the archive he has.

Thanks to ALL who share those archives and tape contents with us!  Without you, this important historical audio would be lost!

Thank you, Russell!

Bud S. (

(P.S. I have often taken a recording outside on a clear starry night, turned it on and enjoyed the aircheck while looking up at the sky...the occasional atmospheric fade, noisy crackle and co-channel interference made the airchecks sound JUST LIKE the station did when I was a youngster! Bud)

1 comment:

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