Friday, April 30, 2021

Vintage John Birch Material, Scouting Slides, "Puppy Day" and More!

Hi, everyone, 

With April, 2021 about to expire, I thought I'd better try to keep my streak going, of posting twice a month for 15 straight months now. 

Let's start with something ridiculous. 

Almost two years ago, I shared a tape of one Mary Davidson offering a screed against the United Nations on what was "Tape Four" of a series, and I bemoaned that I didn't have any other parts. Well, it turns out I do have at least one other part, which I came across last week. 

So, without further ado, here, again, is Mary Davidson to tell us more things we need to know about that terrible, awful, no good, very bad United Nations. 

 Download: Mary Davidson - The United Nations, Part Two


As a bonus, or perhaps a punishment, this tape features another John Bircher, Hugh A. Locke, Jr., heard here in the second of three parts (parts one and three, presumably, were on the b-sides of Mary Davidson's tapes numbered one and three), of a speech at a New England Rally. 

Download: Hugh A Locke, Jr - 1967 Speech At New England Rally, Part Two



On to something more entertaining. I know people have enjoyed the slide show presentation tapes that I've shared in the past, and here I have another one. And OH, how I wish I could see the slides in this case, as the description makes them sound deeply entertaining. 

This was recorded for what was apparently the first in a series of slide shows, made for a troop of Boy Scouts, in an attempt to teach them First Aid. In this first episode, the slides, and the narration, are concerned with what to do when someone has fallen off of rocks onto other rocks (and glass), what to do when someone "has drowned" (the narrator's term, not mine - I would think First Aid in such a case would be a bit too late), and in the event of electrical shock.

I think you'll agree with me that when you want to teach children how to save someone who is injured, a slide show beats a live demonstration every time, and the areas to start with, due to their immense likelihood, would be a fall onto rocks, a drowning and an electric shock. 

At the end of the segment I'm sharing, we're told that further slides will follow, of a recent "camperee", but unfortunately, the accompaniment was simply a series of instrumental marches, so I faded the tape out. 

Download: Narration for Scouting First Aid Slides



Last October, I shared a Stereo Demonstration Reel from the Voice of Music company. And today, I have another one, again from the dawn of Stereo recording, in this case from a company called "Sonotape"

Like other tapes of this genre, this tape attempts to demonstrate the versatility and breadth of what stereo tape can bring you, and the variety of material available from the label, from classical to pop to sound effects. In the case of this tape, and I'm not sure this is a positive, our narrator is accompanied by a cartoonish voiced sidekick who shows up now and then, but who states his name in the final moments, almost as if we were supposed to know who he was, all along.  

Along the way, we do get to here a magical track from those early, experimental and fascinating albums by Ferrante and Teicher, and that's the highlight for me.  

Note the high quality sound you are hearing here. This tape is about 64 years old. In a few weeks, I'll be sharing another demonstration reel of the same vintage which has not held up so well. 

Finally, I will quote here from something I wrote back in October, which applies here, again: 

Because this tape dates to the days when "Stereo" meant two channels recorded across the entire width of the tape (and not the four channel, two direction style which became the industry standard by the end of the '50's), we're technically only hearing half of the programming here. It's still in stereo, but my more modern stereo machine is only playing half of each signal. I hope that makes sense. 

Download: Sonotape Inline Demonstration Reel



And now it's time for episode three of my new series, "Acetate of the Month". In today's offering, we have what seems to be a few minutes from a show called "Surprise Package", a segment in which a puppy was given away to a child. One hopes - as the host claims - that the parents of the winning child were on the same page with the show's host and producers. The name on the label is the name of the child interviewed during almost the entire length of the acetate. It's not clear if she was awarded the puppy, but either way, I suspect this acetate was given to her after the show. Perhaps each child interviewed got an acetate with their segment. 

By the way, can you believe she gives her address and phone number out? Although it appears that she was visiting another town at the time, and it's doubtful anyone from her home town would be listening. Still, it was certainly a different time and place, eh? There is also a deeply uncomfortable moment here, which I'll let you experience without further comment. 

The acetate contains the exact same recording of the same broadcast on both sides, and it looks like this: 

And here's the acetate: 

Download: "Puppy Day" on "Surprise Package" Show, with Deborah Hoskins



Here is our "Very Short Reel" for this posting. Three inch reels can be deceiving - depending on the thickness of the tape and the speed at which they're recorded, they can be filled up complete and last barely a minute (a thicker tape recorded at 15 IPS), or close to a half hour of material (1 thinner tape recorded at 1 7/8 IPS). 

In this case, we have one of the briefest audio letters ever, with a recording at 7 1/2 IPS taking up barely the first minute of tape on one side; the rest of the tape is blank. And for me, this recording brings up a whole host of questions. The narrator - Jerry - claims to be in Times Square, and seems to have quite the story to tell to his friend - Jinx - and even says it was going to be easier to tell him on tape than in a letter. But then... he doesn't explain what sounds like quite the experience. 

Listen for yourself!:

Download: Brief Audio Letter to Jinx from Jerry in Times Square


Sunday, April 18, 2021

"JANITOR" - Two Hours of Silliness! - Plus a Jamboree and a Birthday Conference Call


I have not alluded to this in any way before today, but the things I have posted to this site, and the majority of what I posted to my "reel to reel catacombs" series at WFMU, tended to be things I came across in my ongoing purchasing and perusal of tapes - things I had heard recently, or had actively put aside for use on this site later. There were major exceptions - things I had owned for years, and which I knew I had to share, such as the Merigail Moreland material, some of the "voice talent" advertising compilations and the Larry Taylor tapes - but mostly I've been putting aside things as I heard them and populated this site with items I had put into my "digitize" stack - relative recent "finds". 

However, for some time, I've thought that I really needed to dig into the large number of tapes I collected during the 20 years before I started blogging for WFMU, because there are dozens of wonderful finds there, which have gone unheard outside of my home, things I heard before I had any way to share them on a large scale. 

So starting today, I'm going to try to share at least one of those tapes per post. For the most part, these should be quite stellar items, as they were the tapes I "kept" during the years when I was able to pick over my choices at the late, lamented ALS Mammoth Music Mart (i.e. it was easier to look at tapes and see which ones seemed promising, than it is on eBay...). 


So it was that, last week, I went looking for a tape I recalled hearing perhaps 25-30 years ago, which I had labeled "JANITOR". After listening to this tape anew, and at the risk of underselling it, I think it's actually a somewhat inauspicious debut for this new phase of my site, as the tape is not quite as engaging or entertaining as I recalled. And yet....

And yet, it's a singularly weird and idiosyncratic recording, a solid two hours plus of a few friends performing skit after skit, sketches and fake funny phone calls and tons of low and fairly-low humor. The folks who made this tape clearly spent a lot of time on it, and that someone gave it up, and that it found it's way into my hands is remarkable. I suspect there's a considerable amount of "You Hadda Be There" to this - and having myself been part of dozens of recordings that I adore, where you probably "Hadda Be There", I can appreciate the tape for that aspect, too. And these people are having a good time, which is often worth hearing just for itself.

While the tape box gave no hint of its contents, inside the box was a ridiculously detailed list on a small, yellowing piece of paper. Side one is their presentation of "JANITOR: Going Places and Picking Up Things", and it is documented simply enough with eight bullet points, describing eight sketches heard on the side. Here is part of that document: 

But the other side of the tape is identified, starting on the flip side of the same piece of paper, is given the title "Laughs, etc.". Part of this side of the paper is in pencil, and is hard to read, but most of it is written in pen, and that side of the paper identifies over twenty sketches/bits. Here is that side of the paper. 

What's more, the first side of the paper, doesn't simply contain those few segments labeled "Janitor". Upside down from those listings, it contains the rest of the contents of side two, with over 30 separate bits documented. Here is what that side looks like from that orientation (please note the "Janitor" material (as scanned above) documented upside down at the bottom):

That's 50-plus bits in just over an hour. I have not separated out the two sides, and this download/play option features the entire 125 minutes of both "Janitor" and "Laughs, etc.". There is a 40 second gap at the 62 1/2 minute point, and that's where side one ends and side two begins. 

When is this from? Well the tape box is the pretty much standard Scotch mid-'50's design, so my guess is, mid to late 1950's. But that's just a guess. 

Download: "Janitor" and other Silliness



Next, here's a neat little Audio Verite recording, made at some point in the 1962 or 1963 at a Boy Scout Jamboree, in Raymond Maine at Camp William Hinds. Among other things, you'll hear a song in tribute to the camp, a conversation with a visitor from Sweden, some more songs (almost group shouts, really), a performance of an old-style ballad of the "Dasterdly Dan/Helpless Maiden" genre, and a bit of a badge-awarding ceremony.

Download: Boy Scout Jamboree at Camp William Hinds, Raymond, Maine


From a few years later on down the line - August of 1966 to be exact - comes something unique and very much of its day and age - essentially, the equivalent of a Zoom call in 1966. For here we have a group of friends offering happy birthday and best wishes to their friend Paul, on a conference call. Here's the tape box: 

Paul's not actually on the call - the call was done in advance, in order to send the tape to Paul on his birthday as a surprise. (And not only Paul - everyone was to get a copy!) 

And OH, the work that went into this! The person who set this up (Howard) is heard first calling the "conference call" operator and giving all of the phone numbers for the call, and when the call is to be made, a process which takes the nearly the first quarter of this 30 minute tape. Then there's the actual connection being made for the call, and finally, after nearly 8 1/2 minutes of audio, the conference call begins. From there on out, it's largely what you'd expect, and again, not terribly unlike a zoom call with everyone's cameras being turned off. A short bit from someone who couldn't be on the conference call is heard at the end. I hope Paul appreciated this. 

Download: A Conference Call for Paul's Birthday, 8-22-66



And finally, our "Very Short Reel" for the day. This three inch reel (which is barely 1/5th full of tape) has a box labeled as follows: 

Okay, so I'm guessing that's "Welch's" as in the Fruit Juice company, rather than "WELCHS", but what is that second word? "ARCHIES"? "ARCHLES"? ARCH1e3"? I dunno. But what the tape contains is some uninspired production music, a piece of less than a minute, utilizing blues chords, complete with count in, applause and whooping at the end as if the participants think they just did something really special, and the briefest moment of conversation before the tape cuts off. A cute, and intriguing 40 or so feet of recording tape.  

Download: "WELCHS"

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Passover on 1960's Television, A Letter from Vietnam, "The Fat American", and a Moment from 1950

Today, we're going to run the gamut from religion to fatness, from Vietnam to car tires, all from a roughly ten year period, somewhere between 1962 and 1972, with a very brief side trip to 1950. 

Since we're in the first few hours of Passover, I thought this would be the perfect time to share a tape I came across some years ago, and listened to again over the winter. It features recordings of two televised programs about - and featuring elements of the celebration of - Passover. My guess is that they ran during the same year, although I don't know that for certain. 

I will largely let them speak for themselves. The first program on the tape, nearly exactly a half hour in length, features the Operatic and Broadway Tenor Jan Peerce, and comes from a series on NBC - one which ran without advertising - titled "The Eternal Light". This was a program which ran on radio, then television (while remaining on radio as well) for a total of 46 years.  

Download: "The Eternal Light" - Passover with Jan Peerce


The second program - about which I have discerned fewer details - features another Operatic Tenor, Richard Tucker, who sings at times. Between his singing, there is a presentation of a Seder at home, presented in a sort of educational fashion. This one's nearly three quarters of an hour.

Download: Richard Tucker Presents a Passover Seder



For those of you who didn't want to listen to 75 total minutes of religious programming - and for everyone who did - here is something I find truly fascinating. It's a tape I just listened to for the first time yesterday. This features a Marine narrating an audio letter from Vietnam. The speaker is quite self-effacing and I find him extremely likeable. He is speaking to a family - the Schaffer (sp?) family - but specifies that it's easier to visualize himself speaking to one person, and so chooses "young Ruthie" as the focus of his comments. 

The tape is punctuated a few times by such sounds as the unit phone ringing, the Marine's cohorts partying hearty somewhere nearby and a plane going over at low altitude, providing a level of verisimilitude rarely experienced in these sorts of recordings. 

Starting just before the end of side one, and extending through the entirety of side two, he draws out a secret that he wants Ruthie to keep - a gift he is buying, presumably for his wife or at least his girl. I'm guessing his wife, since the gift turns out to be something truly special, costing him "a year's pay". 

I think this is just a wonderful tape, and hope you do, too. 

Download: An Audio Letter from a Marine in Vietnam to Ruthie Schaffer and Her Family



Coming back over to the domestic scene, here's a tape I found capturing an episode of "CBS Reports", from early 1962. It was fairly easy to nail down this episode and its date, but aside from its existence (verified on IMDB), there doesn't seem to be any other record of this program. 

It was absolutely wonderful to hear the long-missed voice of Harry Reasoner, who, in this case, was examining the expanding waistlines (and other measurements) of the American populace, in a program titled oh-so-discreetly, "The Fat American".

Download: Harry Reasoner - CBS Reports - "The Fat American" - January 18, 1962



At the beginning of last month, after some prodding from a commenter, I initiated a new series, "Acetate of the Month" to capture the home recording format which was most common before reel tape became available to the masses. And that, of course, was the home record making device. Today, the second installment. 

And I will clarify that "the masses" did not have access to home disc-cutting machines any more than the average 1950's home had a reel tape machine. The disc machines were largely for the well to do, or at least the upper middle class. 

And so it was that one thing a person, group or family might do, is go to a public place and have the opportunity to make a record and hear their voices on it when they got home. This particular item is a six inch, 78 RPM record made at "The Chicago Fair", whatever that was, on July 9th, 1950, by The Rappaport Family. 

It looks like this: 

These records did not allow for a lot of recording - this record is barely a minute long. But it certainly captures the excitement of being able to record their own voices, even as they spend much of their 66 seconds complaining about how most things at the fair were not free this year. 

Download: The Rappaport Family - At the Chicago Fair, July 9, 1950


(As a side note, this sort of side business still existed until at least 1968, because my family and I made one, in a downtown Chicago Woolworth's - I believe the resulting recording was a 45 RPM, but may have been a 78. I vividly remember this. We listened to it after it was made - my grandmother was in town for one of her rare visits - and in this case, her last one, before her death in 1972. At one point, she adopted a baby voice and said "I'm only three and a half years old". Sadly, we managed to damage the disc that day, before we even got it home.) 


Finally, from my stack of "Very Short Reels", I grabbed one housed in a plain, solid black box with no markings on it whatsoever. It turned out to contain three ads for Firestone Tires. Unlike lots of tapes of this sort, these three ads are not variations on one particular sales pitch, but rather, they feature three completely different focuses. The ad mentioning the Indianapolis 500 would seem to place these ads in the early 1960's, but the reference to the number of years they'd been in use at that race, according to Wikipedia at least, would seem to date them closer to 1967 or 1968. 

Download: Three Firestone Tire Ads


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

It's All About the Trappists

 Today, I have something that is perhaps even more esoteric than most of what I typically post here. I don't know how many people this will appeal to, but I've had this tape a long time, and I find it interesting, so I'm hoping some or most (or all?) of you will, too. I am posting the entire tape, in the various recorded pieces that appear on it. With the exception of today's "Very Short Reel" at the end, everything that follows here is from the same tape. 

Most of it is concerned with a young man, seemingly in his early days of high school, who has already decided that what he wants and intends to do with his life is join the order of the Trappists Monks. Much of the remaining tape concerns another young man with a similar calling. I'm mostly going to let this tape speak for itself, and simply introduce the segments. The names of the participants are in the file names, and can be heard on the tapes, but I'm only going to include their first names here. 

First up, and by far the longest segment, and the centerpiece of the tape and this posting, is the young man in question, offering up, first, an essay about the Trappists and their lives of solitude and silence, then an interview with the prospective monk, conducted by another young man. This segment covers the first side of the tape and part of the second, and is over 50 minutes long: 

Download: Andy - Essay on Trappist Monks and Interview About Becoming a Trappist



Next, someone named Terrance reads a very brief letter that he has written to what was likely a local monastery: 

Download: Terrance - Letter from Terrance to the Brothers



The same young man (Terrance) is then interviewed for a few minutes about answering a religious calling: 

Download: Interview with Terrance about Answering a Religious Calling



The rest of the tape about - nine minutes or so - is something of a hodgepodge. Here is most of it, starting with the end of a very well known, disgusting and very non-Monk-like joke. The rest of this segment is made up of some deadly serious sounding readings - with accompanying sound effects at times, badly recorded at others. 

Download: End of a Joke and Some Readings



And here, for lack of a better title, is what I've labeled "The End of the Tape". I'll just let you enjoy its charms: 

Download: The End of the Tape



As an aside, I'm wondering what people think of this idea of sharing the entire contents of a single tape. If there is sustaining interest across most or all of it, is this particularly interesting, or not worth pursuing? I have several others where I think this concept might work well. 


Finally, our "Very Short Reel". This is a bit peculiar, and I'm not sure what purpose this tape served. As it says on the box (below), this is recorded directly off of the soundtrack of a 16mm version of two commercials, in this case for Peter Jackson Cigarettes, a brand which still exists today, after nearly 120 years, but which I'd never heard of before. 

What strikes me about this tape - a little three inch reel, by the way - is that it has the typical low-fidelity sound that I would associate with a 16mm projector, and it's not clear to me why someone would want to copy the sound that way. Regardless, it happened, and it ended up in my collection, and they're a fairly interesting little set of two ads, so here is that tape!

Download: Soundtracks to Two Peter Jackson Cigarette Ads (From 16mm)


Sunday, February 28, 2021

Bob Sirott Gets His Start in Radio, Political Commercial Sessions, Male Ad Voices and More!

I hope you're all ready for another set of interesting items from the archives. Today, we're heavy on the media side of things. 


Bob Sirott is a Chicago Media legend and survivor of dozens of careers within a career. He has been through too many jobs and media lives to count. For my money, he was at his best in his first big name job, which was as top 40 DJ at Chicago powerhouse WLS for about eight years, ending in 1979. I was enamored of him enough that I made a point of recording his entire farewell show on WLS, which I might share some time here. Since then, he's been on TV and radio and radio and TV in any number of settings, culminating, perhaps, with his current job, holding what was once the single most plum job in Chicago radio: morning drive at WGN.  

Honestly, he ceased to be interesting to me a long, long time ago, and all of those jobs have been more establishment and corporate over the years, which is something I suspect is hard to avoid in such a career. But I respect his longevity, and have fond memories of listening to him as a teenager in the '70's. 

His biography on Wikipedia states his radio start point was on another Chicago station in 1971, but I have, for years, owned a tape that demonstrates that this is incorrect. Because someone filled both sides of an 1800 foot reel - nearly 100 minutes of a Bob Sirott aircheck - from December of 1967, on WRSV in Skokie, just north of Chicago. With his semi-recent hire at WGN, I made a point of digging the tape out to share for everyone. 

At first, I thought it was funny that the owner of the tape labeled it "The Bob Sirott Show", as it seemed to be, largely, simply Sirott doing a faceless job of performing a faceless task: spinning MOR and Beautiful Music records of the era. 

But eventually, it becomes clear that the show did have a "personality", as Sirott gets a few "bits" in, and even re-references one of them later in the show. Oddly, he makes it clear that his was a one-night-a-week job, and even odder (to me, anyway), is that the phones were apparently lighting up with requests for this tedious blandness. Bob Sirott would have been 18 at this time - I sure this was his very favorite music. 

Anyway, it's an interesting listen, to a format of music which hasn't existed in a very long time, and a glimpse into the very earliest days of a very big name in Chicago media. 

(Oh, and I should mention that there is some competing noise, singing, whistling and such on one channel for the first 30 seconds or so. I didn't want to edit out the start of the tape, so I just left it as-is.)

Download:  Bob Sirott Plays MOR of WRSV, Skokie, IL, 12-4-67



On to something I find even more interesting. The next two segments both come from a tape which is labeled as seen below: 

The box seems to be a set of commercials promoting Democratic Governor Shapiro of Illinois, who had only been governor for five months in October, 1968, in a series called "Mark of Cain", promoting his election to a full term that fall. But that's not really what's featured on this tape. Well, there is one "Mark of Cain" ad, but not four, and the first third or so of the tape is actually made up almost entirely by commercials (from the same election cycle) for the much better remembered Birch Bayh, Democratic Senator of Indiana. Most of the tape is a mixture of raw sessions from the Bayh commercials and finished product, with the single Shapiro commercial edited into the middle of the section, and a few stray moments the could be from something else. 

By the way, Shapiro was defeated, Bayh was re-elected. 

Download: Recording Commercials for Senator Birch Bayh and Others

And then, in case that wasn't enough, and very happily, in my opinion, someone, surely from the same ad agency, spliced on a presentation of the company's Male Ad Voice Talent, arranged alphabetically, for the first half of the alphabet, anyway. 

I've featured several of these before, both here and at WFMU. As with those previous demo tapes, there are some absolutely hugely famous names heard here, and I find it funny to think that some of the actors heard here - including the likes of Oscar winner Burl Ives - might be able to command enormous fees for movie and TV work, but got to be pimped out along with 20 other guys in the advertising equivalent of speed dating. 

There are also some racial and ethnic portrayals here which wouldn't get past the drawing board today. 



And then there's this little three inch reel

Now, I don't know if this next set of material is rare or collectable at all, but I listened to it for the first time this week and thought it was enjoyable. I know that Ed Sullivan shows have been packaged, repackaged and re-aired in a dozen ways, and some Smothers Brothers' episodes have been released on DVD, as well. But it seems at least possible that these little segments might not be otherwise available, so I thought I'd share the contents of this tape. 

Side one, heard first, features three performers from the October 6, 1968 edition of the Sullivan show, including Flip Wilson and Dionne Warwick, but highlighted - well, at least I think so (and so did whoever wrote on that tape box) - by Tiny Tim's performance, and the introduction of Tim's parents in the audience. The tape runs out, unfortunately, during his performance. 

Side two features an equally short segment from the Smothers Brothers' show from the same night, featuring a sad tune from Nancy Sinatra, a goofy jug band turn from Nancy with Tommy Smothers, and part of Pat Paulson's then-current campaign for president. 



And finally, this posts "very short reel". I have a LOT of tapes from a radio station in Astoria, Oregon. I bought a batch of them perhaps 15 years ago, in one of my earlist eBay purchases. A lot of them have since been sold, mostly episodes of a storytelling radio series. I have shared a few of the "short reels" I got with that batch, and here is yet another one, a PSA sponsored by the clunkily named K-TEK C.N.C. Machines company. This is truly "very short" - just 37 seconds. 


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Girls of 1959, An Audio Letter, A Brand New Feature, and MORE!

Hi everybody! 

Did you get a little snow? We didn't get as much as some, although we've had well over two feet this month. We're about 16 miles west of Lake Michigan. Those closer by got walloped, as has a lot of the country. 

Well, while you're relaxing, whether after digging out or, if you're somewhere warmer, doing whatever you chose to do today, I have a whopping five items for you, including a brand new feature. 


I'm going to start with a tape that I just love.

It features a family whose name is spoken repeatedly, but which I'm just not sure I have right. When I searched for what I was hearing, the closest common "hit" I got was Laamanen, which is a Finnish name, and that's what I've gone with. Let me know if you think it's something else. 

The prime sections of this 21 minute slice of home life, circa 1959 (based on the pop music heard and sung) is a sometimes raucous conversation between a few girls in their mid-teens - high school age, I'd say. But it starts with a tiny bit of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, then a longer (but still short) bit of The Chordettes, before a young woman reads instructions for tape recording, with a man (her father, I'd say), speaking in between her two short segments. 

We then get a moment of the idiotic Paul Anka hit "You Are My Destiny" (sample lyric: "you are what you are to me"), and then the group of girls start recording. At first they talk about singing a song, then do so, giving way again to the rest of Paul Anka being ridiculous (well, not the rest of his ridiculousness - that would require another 62 years of tape). 

The rest of the tape, 16 minutes of so, is essentially the girls talking, singing a few songs, telling a political joke which must have been stale even in 1959, and generally entertaining themselves. It's a bit like eavesdropping on a slumber party, and it's the sort of thing that I consider to be GOLD, when I discover it on a tape.  

I say all this knowing that a.) it is probably not for everyone and b.) some parts of it are very badly recorded. Still, I hope many of you find this as endearing and fun as I do. 

Download: Fun at the Laamanen Home



For those who prefer their home recordings to be more sedate, organized and conversational, I have here a very nice audio letter from a couple, Burt and Jean, speaking to one of Burt's sisters, who I believe is named Bea. 

All sorts of subjects are covered here, from school to religion to... well, the conversation takes many turns and detours, which I won't detail here. This is both sides of a reel of tape, and lasts just under 30 minutes. 

 Download: Burt and Jean - Audio Letter to Bea



Next up, a very curious tape, just under 14 minutes, which I found as the sole contents of a half-filled 10 1/2 inch reel, recorded at the professional speed of 15 inches per second. And it's a real hodgepodge, some of which is identified as coming from KBTV, Denver, and is from 1965. Transitions are aprubt and seemingly random.  

Among the material - 1.) some portion of a TV show or TV broadcast of a movie. 2.) A moment of a commercial, followed by TV news, including a commercial. This is by far the longest segment, and just as we're hearing about why a drunk driving bill shouldn't be passed it stops, mid-thought. 3.) A moment of an interview. 4.) A weather forecast. 5.) What sounds like the broadcast of another movie - a period drama? 

That's the rundown. Again, a pretty odd bit of tape. 

Download: KBTV and Other Denver Media Recordings, Circa 1965



And now for my new feature, only a bit off-topic. If you've been reading the comments to my last two posts (and my response to one poster, who posts as Oldradios90, within my last post), you'll know that I've been toying, both in my own thoughts recently, and in response to his request, of adding a feature of some of the acetates I have in my collection. 

As you may (or even likely) know, prior to the introduction of reel to reel tape, the most common home recording mediums were the wire recorder (not very common at all, though) and the home disc cutting machine, which would make the equivalent of records, on what were called "Acetates", although they did not actually contain any acetate. 

Acetates were made in all sorts of settings - recording studios, offices, 'record yourself" booths, the homes of those who had enough money to buy such a machine, and many other settings. As they often feature home recordings, raw performances and media recordings, I have also sought out acetates, and have owned hundreds of them, although I've sold some in recent years (I've always made copies of those I sell - I admittedly have a weird affection for reel tapes - I always want to keep the actual product - but I don't have the same connection to acetates). 

The interest here will no doubt be in those that contain the same sort of interesting things that I feature from reels, and today I have one which I find very interesting, and which also ties into Mardi Gras, which, where I'm sitting, has just under four hours left. 

This is a very specific use of the acetate, from very late in the format's history - 1962. Near and on election day, those supporting a candidate would record pitches to "the people" to be played over a loud-speaker as a car, truck or van carried the record and blared the message out of that speaker, over and over again. These were known as "sound truck" recordings, and what I have here is one for a local, New Orleans School Board election, on July 28, 1962, set to just about the most appropriate backing music imaginable. 

Acetates wear out many times quicker than records, and this one was no doubt played dozens, if not hundreds of times - its condition is not unlike many of the acetates in my collection.

Please let me know what you think of this feature. For now, I'm calling it "Acetate of the Month". 

Download: 7/28/62 New Orleans Sound-Truck Recording for a Local School Board Election


Finally, our "Very Short Reel" for the week. And I am stretching the concept here, because although this is three inch reel of tape, its contents is twice as long as that of any short reel I've shared to this point. That's because it has material on three of its four tracks - the reel itself, at the speed recorded, only lasts four minutes per side, and the entire recording as you can see, if just under 7 1/2 minutes. 

But what an odd combination of recordings. Two tracks contain German music, recorded, it would appear, off of the radio, while the third track (heard here in between the two German tracks) contains a jingle recorded for The New York Mets, a conglomeration that, my extensive research shows, profess to be a baseball team. However, they're not named "The Chicago Cubs", and they're apparently from New York City, so I have considerable doubts that they actually a legitimate major league team. 

Regardless, this is a lovely ditty, but my favorite thing about this section of the tape is that, after the jingle ends, there is just a tiny, tiny bit of fan cheering - literally the shortest segment possible in order to discern that it is actually cheering - and the appropriate length of cheering deserved by such a team.  

Download: German Radio and "Meet the Mets"


Sunday, January 31, 2021

Some Suspect Gold Records, 1958 News, An Odd Audio Letter and Moonlight Madness

Good Day, Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Before I get to today's offering, I wanted to respond to someone whose name was listed as "OldRadios90", and who responded to another post, asking me about sharing other vintage recording mediums here. I answered his comment from three weeks ago with a comment of my own, on that post. But I didn't know if it would be better to answer here, and others reading this might be interested, as well. 

Specially, I wrote that I have often thought of expanding this site into Acetates, of which I have many, many (although I've sold some in recent years), and may do so, but I barely find the time to post what I do share at the moment. Still, maybe this will light a bit of a fire under me! As to the other recording mediums you mention, I do not own any of those, although I've always been fascinated by wire recorders. To anyone reading this: if you have anything of this sort you'd like to contribute, I'd welcome having you host a post here. 


A few months ago, I came across this most odd little recording. WVVX was a fairly peculiar station in the far north suburbs of Chicago. It had a tiny signal - probably not reaching very far beyond the north boundary of Chicago - and it was a bartered station (various interests bought time on the station, making for a hodgepodge of programming in various languages), for much of the day, it was a sort of esoteric oldies station, playing a goodly amount of what you'd expect from such a station, but featuring, in heavy rotation, such things as "Rock and Roll is Here to Stay", rather than its predecessor hit "At the Hop", and Cliff Noble's and Company's largely forgotten (even then) instrumental hit, "The Horse".   

I'm not exactly sure what the time frame was for WVVX as an oldies station. I know this tape is from around 1979 or so, and they were still doing the oldies thing when I briefly drove a cab in 1982 - I listened to them all the time during that period. More information about WVVX (no known as WPNA) can be found on this Wikipedia page

In this segment, two deejays explain the meaning of a "Gold Record", and also explain that some labels never accepted the accounting that the RIAA would require in order for a record to be certified as "Gold". They then play a medley of moments from he "hits" they believe, after some degree of research (I guess) qualified as Gold Records, over the years, in roughly chronological order. 

The problem here is that their research methods seem to have been lacking in, um, research. A few of these records were never even singles, and a fair number of other ones were mid-charters at best, and quite unlikely to have sold enough to have gone Gold. 

An odd project, and odd results all around.

Download: WVVX Plays the Records They Think Were Gold Records


Next up, here are the remaining fragments of two different recordings from a Washington D.C. radio station, made at two different points in early 1958. The first segment was at the very start of the tape, then was erased by something of far lesser interest, and the second segment was what remained at the end of the tape, after that erasure and less interesting stuff. There is a brief break between the segments. There is an interesting "looseness" to the entertainment report that I have not generally perceived in news broadcasts of that era. 

From the stories told during these segments (the first a newscast, the second a light entertainment report), dates can (sort of) be determined. The first segment is from January 22, 1958, while the second is a bit confusing. It is probably from later that week, as it mentions a film starting on January 27th. Yet it also mentions two films playing in town which, per IMDB and Wikipedia, didn't open anywhere until February of that year. Ah, well. 

Download: WASH, Washington - Two Fragments: News and Entertainment Reports, Early 1958


And now we come to something a bit peculiar. This is a audio letter sent from someone named Dick Kenny. It would seem, based on the opening comments, that he is sending this tape to someone he doesn't know well. 

Mr. Kenny clearly considered himself quite the cut-up. Much of the tape is made up of him speaking in the third person, portraying people talking about him, first in impersonation of Amos and Andy, and later - for much of the tape - in a series of phone calls to people involved in sound recording. I assume these calls (and the other material on the tape) were meant as humor, but they are god-awful - dry, repetitive, painfully dull and devoid of anything that has ever worked for people who've made a buck via "Funny Phone Calls". He also beats to death his own (fake) concept of a recording term, "Faggacycles".

I will add that Mr. Kenny seems to have considered himself quite the skilled audio man, and if the sound recordings/effects he offers up (early in the tape) are real, then I would have to agree with him on that, but I have no idea if these were just yet another "bit". A weird tape, to be sure. 

Download: Dick Kenny - A Tape from Dick Kenny


And finally, here's today's "Very Short Reel". This comes from a city called Turlock, in central California, but other than that, I don't have a date or a station, as this was unlabeled, apart from saying "Moonlight Madness". This seems to have a region-wide sale, or perhaps a street-wide sale or something. 

Download: "Moonlight Madness in Turlock" Promo