Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Tape Cache

Holy shit. Hole Lee Shit! Last night I was handed a box containing 23 reel-to-reel tapes of KCAC (and maybe some early KDKB) broadcasts. I haven't had time yet to thoroughly examine them; in fact I only listened to a few minutes each of 4 tapes, but they appear to be mostly KCAC, and mostly talk and public affairs programming (not much music). Some of the tapes are in great condition, others are water-damaged and moldy, some are on broken or warped reels, and one is a hideous spaghetti tangle that will take a whole lotta love to salvage. The moldy ones (at least 5 of the 23) may need professional cleaning and restoration, and the spaghetti tangle may have to be sliced-and-diced by someone with good tape editing skills. Also, all but one of the tapes I've sampled so far were recorded at 1.75 IPS (or whatever the slowest speed on reel-to-reel tape decks was in those days). My tape deck only goes down to 3.75 IPS so most of what I heard was Alvin & the Chipmunks-style speeded-up gibberish, but even at that speed I could recognize Bill Compton's voice. We'll need to either find a machine that can play the tapes back at their correct speed, or use computer software that can do speed-correction (I'm told that such software exists, though I know nothing else about it).

I think all of the reels will be salvageable, but it's going to take some time and possibly some money for professional help. I'll check into this (there is at least one company here in Tempe that might be able to do tape restoration), but in the meantime, please contact me if you have the time, equipment, and expertise to help bring these ancient tapes back to life, or if you have any advice on how to do so. Best to contact me off-blog, at

My heartfelt thanks to Jeff Crawford of Phoenix for hanging on to these tapes for so many years, recognizing their importance, and lending them to me for preservation and restoration. He runs a video production company and has a library of thousands of concerts and videos. Check out his website at

I'll keep you posted via the blog.

5 comments: said...

GREAT NEWS, TOM! Keep them dice rollin'! Methinks we have just scratched the surface.

There's GOLD in them thar attiks!


Tom Wright said...

Or, in this case, them thar basements. Jeff spent a number of years in the Pacific Northwest, where the tapes were kept in a box in the basement; thus the water damage and mold. I'm trying to work out a restoration plan and come up with any necessary funding. I'll post updates on the blog as soon as there's anything new to report. Hey, if all 23 tapes are salvageable, and if they're all recorded at the slow speed, they could contain up to 8 hours of content each; that would be 184 hours of vintage Phoenix radio. Gold indeed!


Mariah Fleming said...

God is alive, magic is afoot!

Jeff Crawford said...

Hey Tom!
We need to mention my wife Jennifer Harris Crawford to convince me to get the reels to right people who were involved with KCAC people who would appreciate the value of reels of tapes of KCAC.

Jennifer has a long time history in Arizona radio of 25 years plus! stations KQEZ, KFYI, KZZP and many others.

Thanks for the care of the precious tapes!

Mariah Fleming said...

So glad you hooked up with Tom! Please be a frequent visitor to the blog! Jennifer too.

In what capacity did Jennifer work in radio? Was her name the same as yours? Be interesting to hear more about her experiences in Phx radio. We're a great audience for that sort of reminiscing (o:

Next time the blog hosts a get together we'll post it so stay tuned. (o: It's great to see new people here...we had a really nice gathering at Alwun House before Haloween. Splendid place to relax in a hip and unpretentious atmosphere. Wonderful folks who run it. Kim Moody is awesome.