Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Biggest Post Ever? Over Three Hours of Sound!!

Good day! 

I can't be sure without checking every previous post, but I think this is the most material (in terms of duration of the various offerings) that I've ever put into one post. The items are widely varied and largely esoteric in nature, so I suspect that most will find only some of this interesting, but it is a nice cross section of the sort of things I might come across if I grab a pile of tapes at random. 

First up, and certainly the piece among all of them here which has some historical interest. What you're about to hear is the full contents of a Ten Inch Reel of tape, all of which seems to have been recorded with TV shows (and perhaps a bit of radio), primarily in November of 1950, based both on the contents and on the label on the tape. 

First up is some sort of talent show or other program featuring performers of various ages. I am particularly enamored of the small child who sings the second song. Two versions of the St. Louis Blues follow, perhaps from the same show. 

Some instrumental music follows, including a band-backed performance by a man playing tuned drums - which is unfortunately interrupted by some far less interesting orchestral music. This in turn is followed by a barbershop quartet and then something called "The United States Overture". That number is again interrupted, this time by some more faceless orchestral stuff. This goes on far too long - and I almost cut it out, but decided to leave the tape intact - and suddenly the channel is changed and we get to hear some delicate violin music. 

Everything prior to the violin music may fall under the general heading of "Band", which is what is written first on the tape (see below), and if so, it's from earlier in 1950, September to be exact. The rest is labeled as being from November 12th of that year. However, what has come so far doesn't all sound like "band". 

Anyway, this violin music turns out to be a performance from The Ed Sullivan Show, and this is when the tape gets interesting for me. If you want to skip to this point, it's around the 32 minute mark. This episode aired shortly after a song called "Our Lady of Fatima" by Phil Spitalny took the nation - or some part of it - by storm. The song is performed live by that Phil's organization, and Ed's comments follow, with an interview of the song's composer and some comments that seem to indicate that Ed assumes the rest of the country was Catholic, too. A special arrangement of "The National Emblem March" follows, then Ed's final credits. 

The next thing on the tape is a recording of a complete performance of an musical arrangement of "The Emperor's New Clothes", put together and conducted by Harry Simeone, later to become well known for his record of "The Little Drummer Boy". This appears to be a TV broadcast of the short musical, and it lasts about 17 minutes. While I've been able to find an album release of this material, I can find no reference to it ever having been a TV show, or part of one. My guess is that both this, and the Ed Sullivan segment are extremely rare, and may not exist as recordings other than on this tape.  

The tape finishes with some Negro Spirituals, done by various members of a African-American vocal group, with condescending comments by the (presumably white) host in between. 

Download: Various Artists - November, 1950, TV Variety on a Ten Inch Reel


And here is the listing from the reel itself: 


Next up, and by far the longest tape shared here, features an odd moment in which a mixed choral group was rehearsing their repertoire. This tape is part of the batch that I found when I came across the wonderful Marigail Moreland tapes. The link between those tapes and this one is that the composer of the song "Why" which recurs on those tapes (sung at various times by Merigail Moreland, Don Moreland and others) is part of that repertoire. Not only that, the presence of that song, during the rehearsal, is highlighted on the tape box (which is also where I got the date), a clear indication that it came from the same person who was the original owner of the Moreland tapes. The segment is nearly 96 minutes long

This is truly a moment in time - if there are still people singing music in this style today, I'm certainly unaware of it. It's a genre that I believe has at least nearly (if not completely) ceased to exist. There are some interesting moments here, in terms of the arrangements, song choices and brief conversations between songs, but admittedly, listening to the whole thing is a slog. But rather than edit it down to my favorite moments, I thought I'd let you find whatever you might like in it. 

Download: A Mixed Choral Group Rehearses, 1963



A few months ago, I mentioned a type of tape I come across sometimes, one which features short bits of a large variety of unrelated segments, and offered up an example, calling it a Hodgepodge. 

Today, I have another example. This one starts with a truly horrid version of "A Hard Day's Night" which is quickly cut off for a recording of a large number of very loud birds, who sound only slightly less like The Beatles as the group at the start of the tape. 

After nearly four minutes of that, we have some small children, interacting with a few adults and singing a few songs, mostly religious. But I particularly like the misheard/misremembered words sung during the brief rendition of "America the Beautiful". But this enjoy this whole segment - the kids sound very sweet. 

This is suddenly interrupted by an off-the-radio recording of "Master Jack" by Four Jacks and a Jill, one of the more peculiar hits of its era, before a return to the children for one more song, then some polka music off the radio, before the tape ends with a bit of microphone testing. 

Download: A Hodgepodge - Fake Beatles, Birds, Children Talking and Singing, and a Few Records



Next, here is a fragment of a sales presentation. I have no idea how long the original presentation was - this was at the start of the second side of a tape which was otherwise taken up by 1940's era dance music (some of which can be heard bleeding through at a lower speed). 

Download: Unknown - ABC Newspapers' Business Model



Finally, our very short reel. I thought I'd shared this before, but I can't find it. If I did, apologies for redundancy. First, here's what's on the box: 

Well, that bit of writing didn't prepare me for the downright oddness encountered on the tape. This is barely 95 seconds long, and as the box says, it contains two takes, but I'd love to hear what it was used for: 


Saturday, October 31, 2020

Eisenhower Vs Stevenson and More from 1952, A Comic Slide Show and More!

Good day!

For those in the US, I'm assuming you are as tired as I am of the constant ads for this year's upcoming election. So of course I'm going to pile on a bit. By chance, earlier this month, I came across a wonderful tape from 1952, containing, among a few other things, a bit of live coverage of election night, 1952, in which Dwight Eisenhower trounced Adlai Stevenson. 

This tape also happens to be a paper reel, a type of tape which holds a particular fascination for me, for reasons I've written about before. By 1952, this style of tape was being phased out, and only the earliest people/families who invested in tape recorders would even have owned or used paper reels. They tend to contain recordings from the dawn of tape recording, often family recordings or other things which fascinate me, and this tape is no exception. I will be sharing the reel's entire contents here. 

The family who made this tape lived in Oklahoma, and were Democrats - the party that had been dominant in Oklahoma presidential votes up to that point. But the state went Republican in 1952, and has done so ever since, with only one exception (1964). 

Here is their recording of a few minutes of coverage from that 1952 election. I can't tell if this is a radio or television report. The fairly short segment contains parts of the speeches from each candidate after the results were clear. I'm sure these are readily available elsewhere, but I'm guessing they are not as available in the context of the media coverage of the day, which is provided here, or the occasional commentary by the unhappy Democrats in the room (although not too unhappy, I'd guess - as you'll hear in the second segment, it is mentioned that many of the people present at a party wanted Eisenhower to be president, although I'm sure they'd have preferred he run as a Democrat). 

Here is the segment: 


One of the things I tend to do is that I will share something that has a tie in to a moment in time, first, even if it ends up "burying the lead", so to speak, by shuffling the best stuff off to second place. 

And that's what I've done here, from my perspective, because the flip side of the tape - it was the back side of the tape as I received it, but was clearly recorded first - is the highlight of today's post. Here we have a short compendium of life in Oklahoma, in June and July of 1952. You'll hear some people at a party (including that Eisenhower comment, so perhaps they weren't too upset in November), and just some general fun and descriptions of what life was like that day, month, year in Oklahoma. Then there are further recordings from the family who owned the machine, going forward into July, with most everything dated nicely. 

I really love this tape, and I will let you discover its big and little joys. There are a few slow spots, but the overall effect is fairly magical. I will say that I am particularly enamored of the voice of and descriptions made by a boy who appears on the tape here and there, completely natural (already - remember, reel taping was brand new), and narrating his life and that of his family. He sounds to me to be about 12 years old, so he would be around 80 today. Are you out there? 


The piece I've saved for last actually is heard first on the tape, but quite obviously came later, as it erased part of the election returns, as heard above (despite an command pasted right on the reel itself, "do not erase"). The election returns are heard for a moment, and then this political commentary, clearly recorded later, erases the next 14 minutes of those election recordings. 

At this point, this is quite the piece of ephemera. Perhaps this was of vital interest to folks in east central Oklahoma that year, but at this remove, I can barely work up enough energy to understand what he's talking about, let alone care. 

Here, as broadcast on KOTV in Tulsa, is Glen Twist, with his "Report from the Citizen's Committee"


Here are the two sides of the reel, labeled as to their contents: 


Now here's a real oddity. From time to time, I have shared narration tapes I've found from slide shows of various types. But this one really threw me for a loop. It professes to be simply a narration for a slide show on early American art, and I got through much of it, the first time, thinking that's what it was. But there came a point that I said "this is a put-on", and listened again from the start. I'm not exactly sure what the joke is, because there were clearly things going on in the slides themselves which were meant to make people laugh, along with the little comments in the narration. But such is the joy and frustration of listening to a slide show narration without the slides. I'm curious to hear what anyone else thinks....



Next up, here's a neat set of eight ads promoting the new Dodge line for 1971, presumably from the fall of 1970. This is from advertising giant BBD & O. We have three "rock" commercials, three "country" commercials and two commercials featuring the "sheriff". 

I could have sworn I shared these before (and if I did, apologies for the repetition), but I can't find them, so here they are.  



And finally, and by coincidence along the same lines, here's a tape I grabbed at random from a stack of "very short reels". In this case, it's a 1998, "end of season blowout sale" type ad for a car dealership owned by Ed Schmidt in Perrysburg, Ohio, produced by McGee & Starr and titled "Operation Elimination", which has a rather disgusting connotation to me, particularly given the play on Ed Schmidt's name at the end of the ad, but maybe it worked.


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

A Sweet Tape by a Musical Family, Early Johnny Carson and a Few Odds and Ends

Hello, everybody, Hello!

I have five selections from my collection today, ranging far and wide as a sampling of the eclectic nature of that collection. 

First of all, a tape that I just love. One of the things I treasure most, when digging through tapes, is finding a tape which reflects honest-to-goodness love and affection of family, and people having a really good time. And that's the way I hear this tape. 

This is almost certainly from the same family who recorded the very first post I shared on this site, "A Gaggle of Giggling Twelve Year Olds". The parrot heard on that tape is frequently heard here - I've edited out more than 20 minutes of recordings of the bird making noise, which was interspersed with the sections shared here. And I recognize some of the same voices. 

Anyway, the majority of this tape is made up of children who are in the midst of learning to play instruments - accordion and piano - as well as singing naturally and with great enthusiasm. I understand that for some of you that immediately spells torture, and I will not try to argue with you - in some cases (not here), I'd fully agree. 

But for me, this is gold. Some may hear a bit of brow-beating in the dad pushing his daughter to play her song, early in the tape, but there is genuine and strong affection clearly apparent on both sides, and the girl soon makes fun of dad, as soon as he's out of earshot, certainly knowing full well he'd be able to hear it later. She's not feeling harassed - she wants to share what she can do. 

The first half of the tape features music played by kids who are just at the start of learning, interspersed with a silly conversation with "Donald Duck" - a cartoon voice I've never been able to stand - and some great play-acting between two girls, sisters, I think, in a short skit - which may be my favorite section of the tape. 

There's also a neat little interaction between father and daughter about a test she took, and then it's back to the music. At about the 26 minute point, the remainder of the original is erased, with the announcement that it's now 1962 (I believe we've gone forward two years or so), and we're going to hear how much the musicianship has improved. In that last segment, we again hear piano, accordion, and several duets for piano and voice, with one of the girls repeatedly singing in a fairly over-the-top dramatic style which I, again, find deeply endearing. 

Of all the tapes I've shared in the past few months, this is my favorite. 

Download: A Collection of Musical Performances and Fun Conversations



This one doesn't require anywhere near as much explanation. This is simply a recording made of short segments of two episodes of The Tonight Show, less than 18 months after Johnny Carson took over as host. First we hear humorist and rancontour Sam Levenson talking about a variety of things, particularly his history with the violin, followed by some violin playing. Then, probably from another episode (I believe both of these are from January or February of 1964), Johnny talks about an earlier show which featured a "talking" dog, and a clip from that show is shared. 

Download: Excerpts from Early Tonight Shows -Sam Levenson and a Talking Dog - early 1964.mp3



In February of this year, I shared a tape from Joe Gerossi, a man who seemed to have considered himself quite the wit, in which he was heard in a variety of sessions and with a variety of friends. I have since found that I have at least two more tapes of Joe Gerossi in my collection. One of them has not yet been digitized, but will be, soon. The other only features him for a few moments, telling some ethnic jokes of the type typical way back when at the start of the tape, and offering a few other thoughts at the end. In between was a full two hours of a very badly Dean Martin TV roast show, which I am not sharing here. 

And now, Heeeere's Joe: 

Download: A Few Ethnic Jokes from Joe Gerossi



Next up, here's an example of something I have many varieties of: The Stereo Demonstration Tape. From the dawn of Reel-to-Reel stereo in 1956 to at some time in the late 1960's, purchasing a new tape recorder often meant also receiving a tape demonstrating the wonders of the reel to reel world, particularly if you'd purchased a stereo machine, which were wildly expensive - a single stereo pre-recorded tape of your favorite performer in 1957 cost about $75 in today's dollars, so imagine how much the new machine cost. 

Anyway, the "Voice of Music" company seems to have been particularly aggressive in this marketing aspect, as I have several five inch reels - both demos and short performances of musical works - bearing their imprint. Here is a copy of the Stereo Demonstration Tape from Voice of Music. 

I will add one more thing - 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: Voice of Music Stereo Demonstration Tape



And finally, no post would be complete without a very short reel. Here's an ad for "Tess Electronics". I don't have a box for this one, so there's no specific date, aside from "June 9th", but I'm guessing the 1980's. And I certainly hope it's my tape machine that couldn't well handle this reel, or perhaps that it's deteriorated over the years, as so many 1980's tapes have done, because, for an ad for Electronics, this thing sounds awful, with muddy sound in the right channel and frequent clicking noises. 

Download: Tess Electronics - Ad for the Week of June 9th


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Late September Cornucopia!


First, thank you to those who chimed in with comments and or condolences about my basement calamity. I appreciate it.

I have five reels/segments of reels today, with no particular theme, and none of them stand out as being the most exciting or most interesting (although perhaps one wins the "least interesting" prize), so I'll just start describing and posting them here in random order.

With politics all over the news these days, perhaps the most relevant of these clips is one from early in the 1964 primary season, specifically, January 31, 1964, and an interview with the eventual nominee, Barry Goldwater, on "The Jack Paar Program" for that evening.

We certainly have come (or gone) a long way in terms of what constitutes an acceptable and appropriate interview - on both sides of the conversation - between a host and a politician, in the ensuing 56 years.

Download: Jack Paar - Interview with Barry Goldwater, 1/31/64


Probably my favorite of today's five-spot comes from almost exactly 11 years before that Goldwater interview. In this case, it's a family named The Robertsons, mom, dad and two boys, reaching out to friends via this new contraption called a reel to reel tape recorder to make a new thing called an audio letter on tape.  Very, very few people had home recorders in 1953. What a revolutionary thing this must have felt like.

Most of this audio letter is taken up by the couple's sons, who go on longer than either parent wants them to, and continue after they've been asked to stop because they're almost done.

I find this whole thing utterly charming and endearing, and hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Here is the back of the four inch reel tape box - a size I don't believe Scotch made for very long, by the way:

And here is the actual recording:

Download: An Audio Letter from The Robertsons - David, Douglas, Margie and Pete - January 27, 1953


I did mention that one segment might be the least interesting, and here it is. Tedious might actually be a better word. This track combines two things I've shared in the past - the slide show narration, of which I've offered several, and the hard-to-get-through boring tape, which I've only offered up occasionally, including last time around.

This tape comes from our friends at the General Telephone Company of California, and it is a 36 1/2 minute narration of a slide show about..... well.... "Wiper Springs on Stroger Two Motion Switches". Doesn't that sound scintillating? I've listened to the entire thing and have no idea what they're talking about, or what it has to do with telephones.

The tape begins and ends with machinery sounds, but almost the entire thing is the slide show narration.


Download: General Telephone Company of California - Wiper Springs on Stroger Two Motion Switches (slide show)


Next up, some Beautiful Music. This sort of thing does not "do it" for me, but every time I post this stuff I get thankful, grateful comments, so as I come across more if it, I will certainly post it. This segment is fairly short - just under 16 minutes - and I don't think it's a single, uncut 16 minutes, as there seems to be at least one edit in there. Happily, there is a commercial break included. The station is WFMS, Indianapolis, which seems to have become a Country station in the early 1970's, so this is probably from the 1960's.

Download: WFMS, Indianapolis, Beautiful Music Programming


And finally, this week's Very Short Reel.

This is a voice actor / voice over actor demo reel. These sort of reels were sent by the boatload to companies across the country to peddle the vocal wares of a variety of voice over people and actors looking for some extra change. I have dozens of these, or maybe even hundreds.

The one I pulled out at random today is by Neil Kobin, and I'm thinking this is from the 1970's. Here is Neil Kobin's Demo Reel:

Download: Neil Kobin's Demo Reel

And the box cover:

Monday, September 7, 2020

Vintage Talk Radio with Michael Jackson and Much, Much More

So here's what happened the day I made my last post - later in the afternoon.

I went into the basement and found a moderate size puddle of water, not far from one of the two sunken window wells - the access spots all basements have to have. I assumed, at the time, that we had some sort of seepage - it's happened before, and since very little was on the floor in that area, and not much had been damaged, I figured we'd address it later, and be aware that it might continue to happen.

Two hours later, though, the puddle was twice as big, and as it wasn't raining at that moment, I thought something else was probably going on. And I was right. A pinhole leak had developed in the pipe carrying away the water from our washing machine. A steady, pin-thin torrent was coming out, straight towards the floor, every time we ran the washing machine. And it was directly over one of my shelves full of tape. Not only was it spewing forth at that moment, it had done so at least twice in the previous two days. The direct hits and the splashing hits had managed to damage parts of 16 large stacks of tapes- varying from completely drenched to a little bit moist.

I eventually hustled the tapes upstairs and put them in the garage to air out and dry. Some were fine the next day, others took several days.

Here's what the garage looked like:

And the other angle:

TI do have a contraption that dehumidifies tapes (because of the existence of something calls "sticky tape syndrome" which affects some reels produced in the '70's and '80's - some of you may know about this), so everything should be okay, to varying degrees. I had not yet listened to all of these tapes. 

And I must say, it looks like a much bigger collection when laid out like that, then it does when on a shelving unit. 

And that brings up another point that you might find interesting. The above reflects about 15-16 stacks of tapes. I have roughly six or seven times that many stacks in my basement that are as of yet unheard by me, in addition to those shown above. It seems I need to "get a move on". 

At some point, I may need to enter into conversations about who would want to carry on with these tapes if and when I'm no longer able to (I actually tried to engage the Library of Congress about this a few years ago, when I was in conversation with a staff member about something entirely different, but as soon as I brought up this collection, the staff member broke off contact). 

Thoughts about any and all of this are welcome. But anyway, the last week of August was a challenging one for me and for my reel collection. 

And now: 


One of the more interesting things I came across lately is a segment of talk radio from the mid 1960's, version of the format which has been utterly unknown outside the realm of public radio for at least the last few decades. It's hosted by an erudite English fellow named Michael Jackson (no, of course not that one - THIS one), and it was recorded, as the box says, on October 12th, 1964, not long at all before KHJ jettisoned its adult oriented programming - which was apparently quite something - for Top 40 Radio, the following spring. 

The writing on the box is sort of a mess, but it does confirm what I just wrote: 

And here's the segment, which, as I alluded to, I find fairly fascinating:, both for its style and for the variety of subjects discussed at a fairly critical moment in U. S. History. It starts with a segment of a newscast, but from the one minute point on, it's the Michael Jackson show:  



So while we're on the topic of radio, which I know is a favorite for many readers/listeners to this site, I have a really neat collection of ads for Lucky Lager, from 1969, another tape from a collection of Lucky Lager-related reels that I managed to pick up... somewhere. These eight ads - more like sponsorship promos, as they are each about three minutes long - are from the "Sportsman's Friend" series, and they feature short profiles of people and/or places. These were produced by the very well known BBDO, Inc., and are from 1969, facts I learned through careful research and detailed study of the tape box: 

And here's the reel: 



Another collection I picked up along the way features, on several of its tapes, Telephone Company related material. I have featured several of these reels in the past, and here is another one, featuring "25 simulated telephone conversations", meant to help train phone "toll traffic observers", presumably to help them learn how to help make sure calls are loud enough to be heard but not so loud as to be uncomfortable.

The content of the fake calls is quite entertaining at times. 



So every now and then, I like to throw in something either dull or annoying or otherwise difficult to listen to, to give all of you a fuller taste of the nature and variety of the tapes I come across and listen to in order to provide enjoyment for all of us. 

This tape is mercifully short but has little to recommend it, to my ears, despite being one of those, usually precious home recordings, and what's more, a home recording of a child. However, this one is extremely badly recorded, and primarily features the child trying to demonstrate the newest song she (Vernisha?) has learned on piano, one which she hasn't actually really learned yet. 

The opening greeting is cute, as is her response when she is called to clean the dishes. Following that point, she returns, and I absolutely cannot make out much of what's she's saying over the next 45 seconds - it may be gibberish, or it may be in another language, or it may be an assumed accent, but the distorted sound doesn't help. In the last 35 seconds, she becomes more intelligible. And then it ends. 

If the whole tape was this kid talking as at the end, and was recorded well, it would probably be gold. But in this form it's fairly hard to listen to. Maybe you'll feel differently...



And finally, as always, our very short reel. Today's reel features two ads for "Kingsbury Homes", wherever those were sold. One has the sales pitch from start to finish, and the other has a music bed for what would have been a live read over it. 

Additionally, a bit more of tape was left on the reel, and it contains very brief segments of three other recordings in quick succession over less than 12 seconds, at the very end. This tape clearly was used multiple times before the Kingsbury Homes ads were recorded. Sort of an interesting little medley of sounds...


It's been a while since I digitized that one, and I don't quite know where the box is, so I don't have a scan...

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Celebrating Baseball, Trying to Get the Ad Just Right, and Keeping in Touch

How ya doon?

Today marks the completion of the Scotch Tape Box History Series. Last time around, I shared the boring box that Scotch moved towards, during the period when the rest of the advertising world (and the Western World) was moving towards an explosion of color and imagery. Scotch then stayed with that box style, with minor modifications and variations, for at least 15 years, regardless of tape size or item number.

Following that - and I may have missed a design or two along the way, particularly after 1980, a period I don't generally look for tapes from, and during which I was not buying new tapes. But anyway, the next - and last - example I have is the starkest change of all, and even did away with the band of scotch plaid which had been present all the way back since 1948. In fact, it did away with just about everything, and featured a solid black box with the word "Scotch" in silver.

Ecch. What an ignominious end. The word "Scotch" barely appears anywhere else on the box (only in tiny legal type), replaced as a company name by "Magnetic Audio/Video Products Division of 3M".

<a bit of a plug - the tape housed in the box scanned above does happen to include some of the  recordings I made for my 1997 opus "The Many Moods of Bob", available free at that link.>

I'm thinking that now I might move towards sharing some of the other boxes which I consider to be particularly interesting/common/rare/whatever. Any thoughts on this?

And now...


With baseball back in full swing, albeit with only 37% of the games scheduled and 0% of the fans present, I thought it might be perfect time to break out a really nice tape that I've owned for decades - it's actually part of the set of reels that I purchased that had belonged to the family of Merigail Moreland, although it has only a couple of moments which make it clear that it's part of that collection, and nothing of Merigail.

In fact, most of the tape is taken up by recordings of a key baseball game in Chicago history - the night the White Sox clinched the American League pennant, for what was then the first time in 40 years, in 1959.

(Now granted, this is not as special as, say, a Cubs pennant winning broadcast, or, say, a broadcast of a last place Cubs team losing a game. We are, after all, only talking the American League here. But it's nice, anyway.)

This is nowhere near the entire game, and due to sections of it having been erased with other material, it's not even a solid nonstop chunk of the game. However, the end of the game is here, and - perhaps the most interesting part - the last 24 minutes or so is the post-game coverage.

The lead broadcaster here is the immortal Jack Brickhouse, beloved among Chicagoans of at least age 50 or more, and this would have to have been on WGN. I don't think there's anything else I need to say!

Download: Jack Brickhouse, et al - White Sox vs. Cleveland - 9-22-59 - White Sox Win Pennant

Update, 8/23: Long time reader and Frequent commenter Eric Paddon has listened to this entire chunk of tape and has written three comments expanding on its contents. For one thing, it IS "a solid nonstop chunk of the game", despite what I wrote, but there are other bits of information, too. I admit to not re-listening to the whole thing when I captured it digitally, last month, and was going by memory. 

Anyway, I deeply appreciate ALL of his comments over the years, and encourage you to read them here to fill in a few more bits of information. 


Next up, an audio letter. This 30 minute example is fairly pedestrian as these things go, but there's a certain fascination for some people, me included, in hearing the ramblings of someone - or in this case, two someones ("dad and sis") - talking to a loved one who is far away, plus, there is a sort of horrible moment during the tape, which I'll explain.

But first, I'll confirm that you really are listening to the correct item: this one starts in a unique fashion, with bird-tweeting sounds, followed by comments about birds.

Then there's the moment... well, a unique aspect of this tape that is actually fairly chilling. There is a mention at one point about the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, and I certainly assumed, at that moment, that this tape was recorded at some point soon after that tragic event. But NO. At another point on the tape, it becomes clear that the date is August 12, 1967, and listening back to the King mention, is also becomes clear that the speaker is - honest to God - simply making a prediction, more or less as fact and certainly without any rancor or emotion, that King will be assassinated at some point. He doesn't say, as I thought at first, "when they assassinated...", instead, he says "when they assassinate....".

Wow. What an unintended insight into the thoughts and views of some people during the mid 1960's.

Download: Audio Letter from Dad and Sis - 8-12-67


Next up, here's something fun: It's some radio guy making multiple attempts to record an ad for an end-of-year closeout sale at a local Fresno car dealership, presumably in the summer of 1963. There are multiple different (but similar) ads attempted, and the reader makes several attempts to get them right, breaking down repeatedly along the way. There's a bit of fun in the copy - some understated humor and a sense of making fun of themselves. I find this highly enjoyable.

Download: Trying to Record End-of-Season Ads for Fresno Motor Sales, 1963


For my "very short reels" sample this week, I again pulled one out at random, and it turned out to be an ad for a local watering hole in Toledo, known as "The Distillery", an ad to be aired on WJZE, which was then on 106.5 FM - it's since migrated to lower on the dial and changed formats. This ad is date 3-20-97.

Download: "The Distillery" Ad - WJZE - 3-20-97

Sunday, August 9, 2020

A Nice Advertising Demo Reel, A Not-So-Nice Novel, The Return of Australian Shortwave and More!

Howdy, good people! I've got a good variety of material for you today!

Let's start with what I'll guess will be the most popular of the offerings. What I have here is a single reel containing two demo presentations from 1969, from a then-leading voice in radio and television advertising, Chicago's own Bernie Saber Musical Productions, Inc.

This reel actually has two presentations from approximately the same period spliced together, with the details of their contents taped to either side of the tape box.  The first segment, which is about a third of the entire tape, and runs just under five minutes, is summed up this way on the box:

And the second set, running almost ten minutes, is summarized on the other side of the box. This section starts with a spoken introduction by Bernie himself, wherein he plugs his new arranger, Jerry Zervic (who is also mentioned on the box, which looks like this:

By now, I have no doubt you're champing at the bit to hear what all this sounds like. I do not believe you'll be disappointed. Here are both segments, back to back, as heard on the tape:

Download: Bernie Saber Musical Productions, Inc - 1969 Commercial Demo Reel


Staying for a moment with the theme of advertising, here's the other end of the production of a commercial - the multiple attempts to get it right. I don't know who this is (maybe someone will recognize the voice), or when this is from, or why they needed to do so very many takes sounding almost exactly the same, but regardless, here is... someone... from some point... recording multiple takes of what I believe may have been a radio promo, for CBS Television News.

Download: Unknown - Recording a CBS TV News Promo


Switching gears fairly significantly, now it's time to revisit something I have on several reels, for some reason, almost certainly a batch of reels that were all bought together, but got separated at some point, as I keep coming across this stuff.

Anyway, it's more Australian Shortwave, and specifically, more "Australian Mailbag". This nearly 28 minute tape seems to be made up of one complete episode, from the very end of March, 1974, then portions of two other episodes. It would appear that the first episode heard here was erasing part of the second one, and that the second one was in turn erasing part of the third one, so that we're hearing the most newly recorded episode (and only complete one) first.

In addition, the (very short segment of the) second episode was recorded on a faulty machine, and the speaker's voice was slowed down unnaturally. The opposite was true of the third episode, which ran abnormally fast. I have attempted to adjust these segments to approximate the correct speed and tone, but I'm sure I wasn't perfect in doing so.

Also, I will note the first, full episode has mediocre sound quality, and that the other two segments have even poorer quality sound.

Download: Australian Mailbag, March 1974 and Two Other Segments


And now, something fairly peculiar, in both content and sound. Here is a man reading from part of what I assume to be a novel. I found this 16 1/2 minute recording on a three inch reel of tape.

And here's a thing I've found, repeatedly, about some three inch reels of tape - some of the tiny machines built to only handle this size reel must have been extraordinarily crappy. Because I find the same problem recurs time and time again with a subset of three inch reels - speech fluctuation. And it's always the same fluctuation - a tape will play with what is clearly a "sped up" sound at first, and the tone of the speakers' voices will gradually approach a more normal tone, then pass that normal tone right by and continue to gradually lower into an artificially "slowed down" sound. I don't believe that certain of these small recorders were capable of recording at a consistent speed, and went too fast or too slow depending on how much drag there was on the left-hand reel.

I've made no attempt to correct that here - the process for doing so would be fairly complicated. Besides, I think it adds an extra odd, at times creepy vibe to what he's reading, which, as I've telegraphed in my headline, is "not-so-nice". Not that it's out of the mainstream of boilerplate fiction, it certainly isn't. But I found it jarring anyway - I mean, why record this for 15 minutes, from what clearly is the middle of a longer work?

Download: Unknown - A Man Reads Part of a Novel


And finally, as always, here's our very short reel for today's post. In this case, what you'll hear below is all that there was on a small reel of tape. I don't speak French, so if anyone would like to translate this 36 second recording, by all means, please do, and I'll include it in an update of this post.

Au revoir.

Download: Unknown - A Very Short Reel in French