Monday, September 18, 2017

The Audio Diary of a Retired Mailman, 1989-1990

Just within the past month, I stumbled upon this marvelous tape recording, a tape which is utterly unique among all of those I have in my fairly vast collection. I've never heard anything quite like it on any other reel.

It features an elderly man, a retired postal worker, offering up his thoughts into the microphone, not for anyone in particular, but for posterity. It's clear from listening to this, that this was one of a series of tapes he had made (and presumably, continued to make). I wish that I had more of them (it is, in fact, possible that I have one or more other tapes from this gentleman, given the chaotic nature of my arrangement of tapes in the basement).

The man's name is Bob Hoppe, or Hoppy or Hoppie, or Happe, or something. Even though he gives his age a couple of times, makes it clear that he had lived in Aurora, Illinois, for years, and speaks multiple times of having been a mailman, I cannot find any record of him online, even an obituary. Those have sometimes proven fairly easy to locate, even from 30 years ago, so maybe I'm spelling his name wrong. If any of you want to take it upon yourself to figure this one out, by all means, please do!

These audio diary entries could not be more everyday, life-passing-by sort of things, and I find it just that much more endearing and fascinating as a result. His tone is a mix of upbeat, and can-you-believe-it, and "well, whattaya gonna do about it", and he starts every entry with a hello and a 'bye, as if he was talking to someone. But that doesn't actually seem to be the case (except that he makes it clear that he sometimes listens to the tapes himself).

The entries are chronological, as would be expected on a tape, except for two early ones, which are reversed in date - he quickly explains what happened. It's mostly just Bob narrating his life, but there is a bit of a broadcast of a St. Patrick's Day parade at the end of side one and start of side two (featuring Tom Skilling, who is still at WGN, nearly 30 years later), and near the end of side two, there is a segment recorded at what seems to be a party of some sort, not explained.

(One more thing - this tape was falling apart - the backing was rubbing off on my heads, and I will never play it again. I had to clean the heads three times between copying parts of it into my computer. The tape whined while going through the machine, which accounts for the metallic sound you'll hear throughout. There is a way to "bake" these 1980's reels, which are notorious for losing their coating and squealing across heads and rollers. The process fixes them, at least temporarily, but I don't have the equipment to do so.)

I hope you find this as enjoyable - as captivating - as I do.

Download: Bob Hoppe's Audio Diary, 1989-1990, Side One
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Download: Bob Hoppe's Audio Diary, 1989-1990, Side Two
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Monday, August 28, 2017

A Travelogue Through Historic New Jersey

I've had several requests to post more of the "slide show narration" tapes that I've come across. I will have to do more searching to find the remaining ones that I own, as I don't always remember to label things well, but just by chance I came across this extensively researched, fairly professional sounding narration of a slide show, one which is largely focused on historic locations found in New Jersey.

I am dating this to some time in the 1950's or very early 1960's, as the remainder of the tape has poorly recorded segments of someone called Long John on WOR in New York, a position that host (who sounds very interesting) left in 1962. I can share those recordings, too, if anyone is interested.

I hope you can picture the images in your head while the narrator takes you on tour!

Download: Unknown - A New Jersey Travelogue
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Monday, August 7, 2017

Australia, A Private Phone Call and Bill Cosby - Who Could Ask For More!!!

Well, private life and work have both been fairly overwhelming these last few weeks - not necessarily in a bad way, but far too much for me to do what it takes to post here as often as I'd like.

To make up for that, here's another three for the price of one posting, three utterly unrelated bits of tape from the collection.

Up first, it's another piece of Shortwave recording of an Australian radio program. A fellow in Maine was in the habit of recording these shows, and at some point, part (or all) of his collection fell into my hands. I've posted two of these tapes before, which you can find here. Like the more recent of those two posts, this one features an episode of "Listener's Mailbag", which, as I said in February of last year, just fascinates me. It's comments from the US regarding Radio Australia and many other related things, with comments and answers from the host. When I shared another episode, I made this comment: "I find this a charming concept and effort, the likes of which have been completely lost in our modern world."

Download: More Shortwave From Australia
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Next up, here's something which could not be more mundane - a phone call from one home to another. For whatever reason, the caller chose to record this call. I have found a small number of these over the years, but typically there is something of importance about the call, either with regard to the circumstances of the call or some situation needing discussion. That doesn't seem to be the case here - just two friends (or perhaps more than friends) having an eight minute phone conversation. The amateur sociologist in me (which, admittedly, is probably what drives a lot of my reel collecting) finds this sort of thing captivating.

You should also be aware that there is extensive dialing and operator interaction over the first third of this 12 minute tape. The caller make several failed attempts to reach his other party, then tries the operator - the actual call doesn't start until nearly the four minute mark.

Download: John and Irene - A Phone Call
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Finally, here's a bit of 1960's radio history that I'd never read about - not surprising, as it may not have lasted very long. Here is a site (the owner of which no longer seems to be involved with it) which has a bit of information about the show. Bill Cosby produced a radio show, circa 1967, featuring short comedic sketches. The following episode was found in the midst of a short tape tape of various recordings of Chicago top 40 radio stations. It's a cute little bit of dry radio humor, and very much has the tone (although not the focus) of Cosby's mid-'60's albums.

Download: Bill Cosby - The Bill Cosby Radio Show
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I hope you found something to enjoy here, in this cornucopia of sounds.

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Party in 1959

Today, for your dining and dancing pleasure, an hour or so of tape to help you imagine that you are at a party, probably involving mostly young people - although there are certainly adults present, as well - in what I'm guessing was 1959.

The tape is dominated by the records chosen to be played nearly throughout, records which largely come from the mid to late 1950's, with none, as far as I heard, which came from after 1959, hence the date. But there are some other sounds here - conversations, shouts, laughs, etc., to reward those who choose to listen all the way through. (By the way, the loud noise heard at the start ends within the first 30 seconds.)

So sit back, pretend you have a houseful of teenagers, imagine that we have an actual President in Washington (Eisenhower, in this case), and that none of these young people are going to know what hit them, when the next 5-7 years are done with them.

Download: A Party in 1959
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Friday, June 30, 2017

Back in the Days of True Customer Service

A few years ago, I bought a collection of tapes which were all in the sort of large boxes in which audio companies used to ship blank tapes. They were all recorded on and labeled with extensive detail, at least from the distant photos I could see into the individual boxes of tapes. This was enough to intrigue me to shell out whatever I paid for them.

In the time since, I've gone through one box of the tapes, which contained such things as a concert and a live performance of "George Washington Slept Here" done at some sort of amateur performance hall, with the name of a school mentioned on the labels on the outside of the individual tape's box.

I just moved on to the second box, and the first tape I opened had the following labels on it:


Again, this is the sort of thing I could sort of make out in the initial eBay ad which led me to buy the boxes. And I was not let down. What is contained here is some sort of training tape, either for A T & T operators, or, more likely, those who would be supervising them. It contains 60 apparently real calls for all sorts of service on phones, phone lines and phone wires, etc., from back in those days (in this case, 1962) when the phone company was not only a monopoly, but also owned your phone equipment, and was obliged to keep it in good working order.

Based on the labels (above) and the opening introduction, it sounds like these calls were being presented to supervisors (or those in training), for them to score the calls in some way, reflecting what was and wasn't done correctly.

This is probably a bit tedious to listen to in one, 61 minute blast, but it is an fascinating trip back into the days when you could make a phone call to get something fixed or replaced, and have the company on the other end of the line immediately make a sincere effort to not only acknowledge your feelings, but to find out what would be the very quickest moment at which you would be available for them to help you.

A few of the calls indicate that this quickness of response was not always what really happened, but it sounds like most of the time, the system worked.

Download: A T & T - Plant Observers Training Tape
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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Story of a Serial Drug User, In His Own Words

I have very little to say about today's feature. I think it speaks for itself. I will say that it's one of the most startling and amazing tapes I've come across, and that I found it riveting.

For those who might wonder, I have no idea who the main speaker is, who is interviewing him, for what purpose, or when this may have been recorded. My guess on the latter is the late 1960's or early 1970's, but there is nothing of any sort written on the box or the tape reel.

With that said, I present to you a recording of a man with extensive experience in the world of illegal drugs, being interviewed about his history and his thoughts.

Download: Unknown - The Story of a Serial Drug User, In His Own Words
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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wally Butterworth, Professional Jackass

Three years ago, I received some records and tapes from a correspondent who had a long-deceased relative who had been part of the far right wing in the 1950's and 1960's. Among the many absolutely repugnant items in this collection of records and tapes was an album containing two racists screeds by a man named Wally Butterworth. I posted  both sides of the album, as well as the remarkable sleeve that it came in, to the WFMU blog, at that time. You can read about it, and hear it here.

I don't think I really ever expected to hear Wally Butterworth again, but upon opening up a tape that I got from God knows where, I found it contained another one of his lectures, sounding pretty much the same as the other two. And with the radical, racist right making more noise today than in more than 40 years, and being mainstreamed more than at any point in most of our lifetimes, I thought this was a good time to expose this asshole via his own words.

His topic on this recording is Sex Education in the Schools. I have no idea if his information is accurate - some of it does genuinely sound pretty "out there" for grade and high schools, particularly in the time frame that this would have been recorded. But there are two problems with this:

Number one, this faction has proven time and again that there first course of action will be to either make something up whole cloth, or to take a sliver of real information, and fabricate something potentially horrifying around it, unrelated to the truth of the matter.

Number two, and to me even more important, even if Butterworth had many of his facts straight, he has surrounded this information with repeated racist and anti-Semitic references, which are gratuitously attached to subjects, organizations and people who he seems to have brought up solely to slander and insult them.

(Oh, and then there's the section where he suggests - twice - that a certain teacher who did something he finds inappropriate ought to be, um, no longer alive.)

As recently as five years ago, I thought this sort of thing had receded into the background, and that was left of it was being flagged and identified as such by the vast majority of the population. Sadly, the last few years (as indicated in Portland this week) have proven that to have been false hope. When Wally Butterworth spoke these words, he was on the fringe of the fringe. Today, sadly, he'd probably have the opportunity to appear on major TV networks and radio programs.

Download: Wally Butterworth - Sex in Our Public Schools
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Monday, May 22, 2017

From a Boy Scout Slide Show Presentation

Well, about a month ago, I shared the narration from a slide show that someone had done, of his family's vacation trip in New England, and I explained that I have come across several of these over the years. I asked for feedback regarding whether there would be interest in hearing more of them.

Those who commented were unanimous in that they wanted to hear more. And so here we have another one.

This one is quite a bit different than the first one, and more interesting due to those differences. It's a slide show recapping a lengthy Boy Scout trip. But rather than simply being a narration of the slides, with the (apparently necessary) music - although all that is there - instead, it contains several recorded excerpts from the trip itself, to more fully flesh out the stories being told in the slides.

In fact, that may lead to a little confusion, which I'll try to fend off here. The beginning of this tape was erased by something else, so it actually starts up in the midst of one of those "field recordings", and a very poorly recorded one, at that, before going to the first narration of the existing recording, at about 25 seconds in. Almost immediately, there was another section erased, and I have cut out the other material - so there is a gap there, too.

And finally, the tape ends before the presentation does. Perhaps the end of the tape was cut off for some reason (maybe it became damaged), or may it wore away with time, Anyway, we do not hear the end of the presentation either.

However, that does not take away from the interesting material which remains, or the enjoyment of lisetening to it.

Download: Unknown - Boy Scout Slide Show Narration
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Sunday, April 30, 2017

An Audio Letter from a Sailor

Furst off, I want to thank everyone for the comments, feedback and corrections. I've been getting a good number of comments posted on my recent offerings, and I really appreciate it.

For those who would like to look back at the previous posts for more information than I had initially, a few good folks have left comments clarifying and explaining things about the "Mysterious Hunk of Tape", and the "Blue Material". I have also heard from multiple people about their enjoyment of last week's slide narration, all of whom asked for more, and I will look for more of those among my collection. I know I have a boy scout troop's slide narration already digitized, and I will share that in May.

Every now and then, I will comment back on the page of the post in question, but in most cases, if the poster's name is not included, or doesn't have an e-mail link, I don't know how to get back to him or her. I do often respond to those for whom I have an e-mail address. If you don't (or can't) hear from me, though, please know that your comment is very much appreciated.

And now...
~~~~

Here's a neat slice-of-life, featuring the stories and thoughts of a sailor, sending home his love and good wishes on a tiny three inch reel of tape - at the low-sound-quality-but-lots-of-time-affording speed of 1 7/8 inches per second. At that speed, that three inch reel managed to capture over a half hour of recording, and it was cheap to mail, too, weighing barely a few ounces. My collection is full of audio letters on three inch reels, including many that I've shared here and at WFMU.

I'll let you enjoy the highlights of this reel as they unfold - if you've been frequenting this site, my guess is that you'll enjoy it a lot. I'll just say two things: that the tape opens with about two minutes of music, but then the rest is spoken word, and that at the halfway point - when he sings Happy Birthday - that's where the second side of the tape begins.

Enjoy - and by all means, please offer up any comments you might feel like making.

Download: Unknown - Audio Letter from a Sailor
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Friday, April 21, 2017

Both Fascinating and Tedious

Well, you may or may not agree with the name I've given to this post, and if you don't, I'm guessing you'll lead towards tedious.

However, I have come across well over a dozen, perhaps even two dozen, tapes just like this one, and I thought, since it seems to have been a genre all to itself, way back when, I'd offer up one of them.

I am reminded of some dear friends of my parents, the parents of my childhood best friend, in fact. Every year, they would go on an exotic vacation, and then upon their return, have a dinner party for their (I dunno, maybe eight) best friend couples, after which they would treat them to over an hour of showing their vacation slides. My parents DREADED these invitations, and found it among the most boring things they had to endure in order to be good friends.

Unknown to me - and probably most of the rest of the world - there were people who not only shared their vacation slides, but made a real production out of it - preparing background music, and recording the narration beforehand, apparently from a written script.

THAT is the genre I refer to, above. And here, for your pleasure, annoyance, bewilderment or just plain boredom, is one of those tapes. In this case, it's for someone's 35 minute trip through slides presenting his/their recent trip through New England.

There really is nothing comparable today. Sure, someone could post 240 cell phone photos from his trip to France onto Facebook, but that person would probably not write an explanation of each one, and certainly wouldn't expect there to be comments made on each one. There wouldn't even be a way to know who, if anyone looked at any, or all, of them.

If you want to hear more of these, let me know. If you don't say you want to hear more, I won't share any more of these.

ENJOY.

or not.

Download: Unknown - New England Slide Show Narration
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Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Compendium of Blue Material

What a wonderful cornucopia of sound revealed itself when I lined up today's roll of tape through the ol' reel to reel machine. Because here was someone's collection of vintage off-color antics of a variety of well known and lesser known performers, all of which seems to predate the mid '60's, most of it much earlier than that.

A few of these clips are extremely well known, and probably readily available. Several of the ones in the first third of the tape are new to me, and likely fairly rare, although someone out there may well inform me otherwise. The first 18 minutes of this 45 minute reel are the "gold" to me. The last 27 minutes or so are from one of the Friars' roasts, and while it's an interesting recording (which may, again, be easily available elsewhere), it's fairly one-note humor but for who is doing some of the speaking.

Here, in order, is what you'll hear:

1.) An unidentified woman talking about a man in terms that the audience misconstrues (very short)

2.) Mike Wallace (of all people) giving a loaded question, from a listener at home, to Virginia Graham, catching her off guard. Her reaction seems quite over-the-top and insincere to me.

3.) A very funny fake commercial for "Duz". This is probably my favorite segment here.
4.) A very famous Bing Crosby outtake.

5.) Another well known excerpt from a children's interview show, featuring a child who reports having farted, and a host who can't keep it together.

6.) A singer introduces his song by slipping over its name, very badly.

7.) An announcer has difficulty getting through some very questionably written copy.

8.) Some rearranged Hedda Hopper quotes, attached to some off color questions.

9.) Perhaps the most famous bit here, in which Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis do promos for "The Caddy" and take a turn into the filthy. I've heard this a dozen times, and still don't find it funny. I guess it's because I don't find Jerry Lewis funny, and that I suspect that the way he acts here is how I suspect he really is, when not on camera.

10.) A discussion of love making between an anonymous man and woman.

11.) The aforementioned Friars' Roast recording, notable for its inclusion of such usually wholesome entertainers as Jack Benny and (of all people) Art Linkletter, engaging in filthy language. The honoree is someone named Harry Joe (I never did catch his last name).

I hope you find this (or at least parts of it) as entertaining as I do.

Download: Various Artists: A Compendium of Blue Material
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Monday, March 13, 2017

A Rather Mysterious Hunk of Tape (and a Few Bonuses)

I have, on several occasions, here and at WFMU late, lamented blog, offered up samples of a huge batch of tapes that I bought many years ago, featuring recordings of various productions, from TV and movies (mostly TV), which were in various stages of completeness. This has included everything from sound effects and foley reels, to soundstage recordings, to completed interview shows, and many other similar items.

Here's one of those tapes, one which is, I strongly suspect, one of those soundstage recordings, but other than that supposition, it remains pretty much a mystery to me, and I'd love to hear any explanations that those of you out there, perhaps with more experience in the field, could share.

What confuses me here is not the scene being recorded - it's pretty clearly a couple, who discussing a job offer the young woman has received, which will unexpectedly take her out of town. But what on earth is the deal with every single piece of dialogue being said twice, once through what sounds like a white-noise generator (even a line as simple as "oh" receives this treatment.

It's sort of hypnotically fascinating, and equally annoying, at the same time.

By the way, near the end (the last three minutes or so), the same tape goes into a completely different recording session (probably something which was being erased by the first segment heard. That segment does not contain the same weird repeated dialogue. It does, however, sound like a more interesting script - does one person refer to it as "Pot Party Poetry" at one point?

There are also a couple of breakdowns, and resulting cursing, for those of you who enjoy such things.

Download: Unknown - Raw Takes from an Unknown Production
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And now, a few little bonuses, which at least some of you may enjoy more than the feature attraction.

First, here are three commercials for something called "Domestic Pure Shortening", which seems to have been a Canadian product. The second of these three ads is VERY remarkable for the ridiculous amount of information (about a contest the company was running), contained in a rapid-fire one minute ad. It cracks me up.

Download: Unknown - Three Domestic Pure Shortening Ads
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And finally, two comical, quite over-the-top ads, one for Corina "Lark" Cigars, one for Aurelia "Biltmore" cigars (I'm guessing the two were related). Each tells the story of "Ralph Ridehome". These are heard on the tape, complete with studio intros. I accidentally labeled the entire file as being two Corina Lark ads.

Download: Unknown - Two 'Corina Lark' Ads
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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Some Unusual Music Beds

Today, from my vast collection of tapes which come from the world of advertising, is a set of musical productions, many of which seem to fall somewhere between advertising and things which were, perhaps "on the road" to becoming advertising. Most, but not all, are just about a minute long. Many feature variations on the same melody - perhaps someone out there recognizes it. The last few tapes also feature the repeats of a melody - a different one!

This is a 22 1/2 minute reel which came in a box simply labeled "Radio Commercials". Here is what you'll hear.

1.) A guitar led instrumental, which leads into some wordless vocals for its second half.

2.) A lengthy ad about the Buxton company, and it's leather products. This is a medley of songs, nearly all set to tunes belonging to the pop songs from the late 1960's. Given that every tune here was a hit by the end of 1969, my guess is that this is from around that period. But where would this have been used - it's about 3 1/2 minutes long! Was this from an industrial show?

3.) A jazzy instrumental.
4.) A flute-led, Latin tinged instrumental, on essentially the same tune as above.
5.) A laid-back guitar/piano solo number.
6.) A horn driven jazz-pop thang.
7.) A mid-tempo samba instrumental
8.) Another light Latin thing with xylophone.
9.) A rooty-toot 1920's pastiche.
10.) A small combo, Dixieland number. This one is nearly two minutes long.
11.) Another jazzy, trumpet led number.
12.) Ibid. This one, again, is almost two minutes long, and features the same melody.
13.) The same melody again, in yet another setting.
14. ) A Dixieland number, which seems to have been recorded off of a record, unless I'm mistaken.
15.) A "beautiful music" setting, led by trombone and guitar. This is also one of the longer ones.
16.) A similar "beautiful music" setting of the same tune as the previous track, and again, a long one.

Does anyone have any insight into what these, varied length music beds would have been for. Enough of them are far too long to be for commercials. And what is that lengthy Buxton thing doing mixed in?

Download: Unknown - An Unusual Set of Music Beds and An Ad
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As an extra treat, here's a short bit of tape from another reel. It's another music bed, in this case, a cute, hoedown flavored thing, a lot more fun, to my ears, than any of the 15 instrumental tracks above. After it's over, there is a separate little tag, which may or may not be for the same ad, and then, just a moment of whatever the hoedown music was erasing, something featuring a lovely vibraphone.


Download: Unknown - Unidentified Hoedown Music
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Friday, February 3, 2017

All About Lipstick!!!!!

Well, the tape box indicated that it contained a series of ads from the 1950's, presumably by an advertising firm. The writing was a bit confusing and it seemed to have been revised a few times, but there was definitely a list of products there.

I would love to have heard that tape. But I still got to hear something fun.

Because either the original tape had been stored in the wrong box, or, more likely, had been erased by a later project, because that's what was contained on the reel. And as mentioned, the material on the reel isn't bad at all. It's quite fun and interesting, in the way it gives us a glimpse of the way a product was marketed way back when.

The product is a new shade of lipstick, and this tape (missing the first minute or so of the presentation, unfortunately) is clearly the soundtrack to a promotional film, from Avon, The Company for Women (I drive by one of their manufacturing sites regularly, and see that slogan every time). I don't have a date on this, but given the other dates on the box, and the tone of this presentation, I would strongly suggest the 1950's.

What we have is a description of the making of a shade of makeup, from development to completed lipsticks.

As I mentioned, the beginning of the presentation is gone - for the first 70 seconds, you'll hear a short musical cue which was apparently recorded over the Avon material (in 1960, making it even more likely that the Avon material is from the '50's), and then a very short sound effect of some sort. When those end, the newer recordings end and what is left of the Avon material (about 12 1/2 minutes) begins.

Download: Avon - The Story of Lipstick!
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Monday, January 23, 2017

Old Time Media: MOR Jingles and A Newsman's Promo

Howdy,

So today I have two bits of tape from many, many years ago, both of them professional reels featuring a bit of "inside media" material. Neither needs a great deal of explanation, and both are fun in their own ways.

First up are a bunch of jingles for what I'm guessing was an MOR station, in Sioux Falls, SD, at some point, KRSD. Their slogan seems to have been "The Music Montage", and there's a moderate degree of variety between the various jingles, but all are solidly within the MOR style, with a few veering dangerously close to the vapidity of the Beautiful Music format.

Download: KRSD, Sioux Falls, SD - Music Montage Jingles
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At the other end of the media field - and on the other dial - were the newsmen of the day, and near the top of that field was CBS journalist Charles Collingworth. Here's a neat reel of tape (aside from the occasional piercing whine) in which Collingworth spends about eight minutes recording and re-recording parts of a few promos. These are the audio recordings from what were clearly filmed promos.

Download: Charles Collingworth Records a Promo
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