Richardsfault.com -> Nostalgia -> Pre-PC Geek -> Audio Clips
In 1971 I was making my music recordings by holding the mic of a portable cassette recorder by the speaker of an AM radio. The sound quality was nasty, although 34 years later the tapes sound no worse. In this clip, 12 year-old Richard gives a heartfelt apology for a blank spot in Chase's "Get it on". This is most likely be the oldest recording of my voice in existence.
Scans of two such old cassettes used in that fashion:
A 2400 DPI scan of the tape and pressure pads of one of these old cassettes. Not for the fainthearted:
A few more treats found on these tapes:
Syracuse station's Great Gum Giveaway 1974: This one helps to recall the days when radio stations didn't have to give out 5 and 6 figure prizes to get listeners' attention. I miss those more simple days, and fear that nothing short of bloodshed or hardcore sex will sate audiences in the near future.
Another obvious problem was the pickup of background
noise. When I was making this
Also from those tapes comes WNDR Syracuse's Flying Dutchman
After getting better equipment, I used cassette tape to do many more things:
5-minute clip high-quality clip of Rochester's WCMF in December, 1980 at the end of their John Lennon tribute.
2.5 minute clip
of Rochester's WMJQ experiencing a
Dr. Demento tape mishap in 1979.
The show must go on, so the host plays some
late-70's "space music". I sure would love to get my hands on more music like
that! Note the wind chime effect in the background when the host is talking,
which was a popular effect at the time(?)
WMJQ ad for 2/25/79 David Bromberg Concert at University of Rochester.
One I remember well: Chipmunk Punk add from 1980.
Some brief clips from Rochester's
WVOR FM in September, 1977. Note the comment on the recent passing of Elvis:
Clip 4 Clip 5
Clip 16 (ends with a funky instrumental opening that unfortunately was the very end of the tape)
A fond memory I have is how these
stations handled a suggestive song title. When ZZ Top's "Tush" was topping the
airwaves, the announcer would simply say "ZZ Top" to identify the song! Can you
imagine one of today's "shock jocks" having an issue with that?
Visit this automated radio formats site for more information (thank you Scott Davis for the link).
High-quality Dentyne, Certs, Freshen Up Gum, and Chewells commercials taken from Dr. Demento shows found in newsgroups. Dr. Demento listeners must have been heavy users of gum and breath mints:
Chewells, 1985 (smack dab in the middle) Great mid-80's sound!
Here are clips found at the ends of a tape where I randomly tuned between stations in the late 70's. In some parts, it appears that sessions were recorded over each other, with parts of both remaining. Longer intervals of well-known songs have been edited, and obscure music, jingles, and commercials are emphasized. They are sloppy and chaotic, but provide a good sample of what the FM dial was like back then:
Syracuse or Rochester FM, late 70's (3:08) I am less certain of date and location when compared to the other clips. It is between 1977 and 1979. It has a few more obscure 70's music clips, some standards, and a car dealership add jingle. Listen for analog tuning sounds.
Rochester FM, late 1977 (7:30) Starts with an especially dreadful "beautiful music" clip, a then-popular format that is rare today. Following that are some obscure and very funky 70's music clips, along familiar standards and pre-70's oldies. There are a few jingles, automated FM song ID's, and DJ airchecks. Also listen for analog tuning sounds and empty-channel hiss.
The equipment that I possessed allowed me to experiment with mixing and audio creations on cassette tape:
Besides these things, I made recordings of live events:
Church musical cast party, 1976. Despite my claims to the contrary, it was a well-behaved event!
"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor
Dreamcoat" musical, 1977. I was in the show itself as brother Benjamin, so
someone else no longer remembered manned the deck:
There were many more great things on tape, mostly lost forever. Perhaps I will be lucky and find a few more of my unlabelled old cassettes. A favorite that I remember and almost certainly will never find was a setup where I lined up pieces of turkey between two stereo mics and let two cats go at it! Another was a 1960's-style basement jam session in 1976 that I remember accidentally recording over.
Such "old school" audio equipment
made unique sounds that are seldom heard today. The old LP records were cursed
for clicks, pops, and rumbles that resulted from a diamond stylus contacting the
vinyl platter which of course was not perfectly flat and free of dust and
scratches. Here is a clip of an FM station around 1978
starting up a song on a
record and for some reason starting again. Listen for the sound of the
stylus dropping on the record, followed by clicks and pops in the background.
This was all a fact of life in the pre-CD era!
There were many formulations and quality levels of cassette tape. In order to assure that higher and lower frequencies were balanced, decks such as the one I used recorded alternating high and low frequency calibration tones that allowed adjustment for even frequency balance. In other words, it was a fussy process to get recordings right!
Even the FM tuners were different
back then. Instead of silently seeking the next station or calling it up with a
button, a manual tuning wheel was used. Hiss was heard between stations as well
as staccato clips of other stations being passed over. Here is a clip from a
1979 tape when the tuning knob was
accidentally moved and quickly re-adjusted,
by 20 year-old me no doubt! If
you left it on an empty channel, you'd get a
deep, rumbling hiss
that sounds like Niagara Falls when played loud through a good speaker system or
headphones! Today's tuners have squelch circuits that prevent such things.
It was possible to use a 35mm camera and tripod to capture still TV screen images with a little care, something I became fairly good at: