Monday, February 19, 2018

Boy, That's a Hunk of the Ozark Jubilee!

Before getting today's two recordings, I wanted to share a question/request from a reader, which I received a few weeks ago. The writer found a stack of cassette tapes a few years ago, and mixed among recordings of lectures and of music off the radio, there were several family recordings. Nearly all of these, however, are in Japanese. The man who wrote me sounds like something of a kindred spirit to me, and he is very interested in learning about the conversations on these tapes. If anyone out there both speaks Japanese and is interested in helping out, please write me with an e-mail address in the comment sections, or contact me directly with the e-mail address which is found at the end of this WFMU post, and I will put you in touch with my correspondent.


I have two completely unrelated items for everyone, today.

The first is a rare recording of what Wikipedia describes as the first successful Country Music show on network television. It's The Ozark Jubilee, hosted by Red Foley. I'm not knowledgeable enough in this era/style of music to be able to nail down a date for this episode - and sadly, whoever recorded it cut out the commercials and nearly all between-song banter, so there are no clues in that area, either. That doesn't take away from the enjoyment of hearing the sounds of music and television from a very different time and place, however.

The sound in the opening few minutes is fairly ragged. And while the overall sound never approaches excellent, or even very good, after a bit of that poor sound, it settles down into a listenable quality.

Download: Various Artists - The Ozark Jubilee


Today's second feature is from the large pile of tapes in my basement (frequently featured here and at WFMU) which contain raw takes of various TV programs and commercials, In this case, it's 15 minutes worth, mostly made up of several repetitions of a small section of a Studebaker advertisement, apparently from the mid 1960's, near the end of that company's existence.

For most of the tape - ten minutes or so - we hear work on a single section of the ad, in which a young boy is supposed to excitedly state, "Boy, That's a Hunk o' Sumpin'!", followed by some voice over about the happy family and their new car. The reason why these two things had to be done as a single piece is a mystery to me, but that's not a surprise, as I know nothing about advertising. In the last three minutes, the voice-over man works on a short segment from elsewhere in the ad, including the Studebaker slogan, "Different By Design", a slogan which appears to date this ad from 1964.

Download: Unknown - Boy, That's a Hunk o' Sumpin'!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A Purdue Glee Club Talent Show (And More!)

First, I want to thank the commenters who chimed in on a couple of recent posts. Tony suggested that the DJ reading about Paul McCartney might be Dick Clark, which seems at least possible, and Eric offered more information about the "Truman Capote" - Kennedy piece. Have a look at that posts' comments for more information.

And an anonymous correspondent explained that what I had labeled a conversation using walkie-talkies, in my last post, is actually a Ham Radio conversation. That explanation can also be found in the comments. Thanks, everyone!


Here's an interesting reel of tape, featuring, as advertised above, a Glee Club Talent Show recorded at Purdue University, and featuring students of that institution.

I think the tape (which is just over a half-hour long) largely speaks for itself, but I do want to make mention of the degree to which the emcee seems obsessed with where the various performers (and members of groups that perform) are from, and other ethnic and personal aspects to their existence. To my ears, it goes way beyond weird, and into something approaching obsession. Perhaps that was typical of the day and age, and perhaps they were touting something along the lines of equal opportunity, for those days. Absent some explanation, I find it creepy.

Download: Various Artists - A Purdue Glee Club Talent Show

And here, as an extra, is the contents of one of those tiny, 3 inch reels of tape. In this case, I think what we have is two separate recordings, one partly erased.

I have discovered, over the years, that sometimes people who exchanged audio letters would simply record over the letter they'd received, after listening to it, and send back their own audio letters back to the person who sent the tape.

So what I have here is a tape from a little girl named Marcia, recording an audio letter to her Aunt, with her dad, apparently at her request. They only used the first side of the tape, and the father indicates at just before the four minute mark. So then, the flip side is side two of a previous letter, presumably one from the Aunt in question, and apparently responding to an even earlier tape. The whole thing is really nice, and very sweet at times.

Download: Marcia and Her Family - Audio Letter

Monday, January 15, 2018

Life and Death - Conspiracy Theories of the 1960's!

Happy New Year, everyone,

First, I want to thank everyone who wrote with nice thoughts and positive feedback about my postings. I really appreciate it.

I want to address one comment to a poster named Bill, whose post did not contain a return e-mail address, and who asked a question about his potentially sharing with me selections from his own collection of reel tapes. Yes, Bill, I would love that. I don't like to share my e-mail address here, as it seems to end up causing me to receive an influx of spam, but you can find it at the end of this post, which I wrote about 15 years ago.


Today, I have two recordings having to do with rumors - one about a man who was quite clearly dead being alive, and one about a man who was quite clearly alive being dead. (I also have a bonus clip, since the first two are so short.)

First up is a remarkable - and remarkably tasteless - recording from either radio or TV, I can't tell which. In it, a man who sounds a lot like Mike Wallace to these ears reads a short piece which had apparently started circulating at the time, regarding the various clues indicating that John F. Kennedy was not dead. You have to hear this thing to believe it - it is seriously obnoxious, or, as Capote described it in denying its authorship, "Grotesque".

Download: Possibly Mike Wallace - "Dead or Alive", Possibly by Truman Capote

Next up, an inane little 95 seconds out of the middle of a badly (choppy) recorded set of Top 40 radio recordings. In this short clip, we hear a unique take on Paul' McCartney's mid-'60's accident, leading to another possible reason why The Beatles might have added clues to Paul's supposed "death". Sheesh.

Download: DJ Speculates on the Paul McCartney Story

And here, on an unrelated note, for those who might enjoy it, and without any real comment, is a recording someone, somewhere, on some date, made, of an 11-minute conversation between two people via walkie-talkies.

Download: Unknown - Walkie Talkie Conversation

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Party in 1959 Becomes a Party in 1960

I have two New Year related items for you today.

Almost six months ago, I shared a tape I titled "A Party in 1959", speculating on that date based on the music heard throughout. I have now come across a second tape from what sounds like the same party, and the contents of that tape, and the writing on the box (seen above), make it clear that this was indeed a party in 1959, specifically, a party held on December 31st, 1959, into January 1st, 1960.

And so, here is the remainder of what was recorded of that party, just in time for your own New Year's Eve celebrations. If anything, this is more raucous than the first half of the tape, which I suppose is to be expected as a party moves past the midnight hour, as this recording does just before the ten minute mark.

So listen in, and imagine yourself in your late teens, experiencing the first few minutes of the 1960's, as they happened.

Download: A Party in 1959-60, Part Two


Jumping forward 24 years, here are excerpts from an otherwise stultifying recording of WRCQ's New Year's Eve/New Year's Day broadcast of a syndicated program of big band music (which was followed by the in house presentation of the same genre), which someone recorded for about four hours, on December 31st, 1983, into January 1st, 1984. I have excised almost all of the music, and left portions of two newscasts, which were also on the tape. For some reason, they ended the show at 11 PM, rather than at midnight, with the playing of Auld Lang Syne. and that's where the tape begins. Then there is another edit after the 11 PM news, followed by the lead in to the 1 AM news, and about four minutes of that broadcast. Not the most scintillating item in my collection, but a good tie in for this day before New Year's Eve, 2017.

Download: WRCQ on New Year's Eve, 1983 and New Year's Day, 1984

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas with Greg and Randy

Every now and then I come across a tape featuring a recording from some family's home, featuring that family's Christmas morning celebration.

Today, I am featuring one of these tapes, which I've named after the two young boys heard on the tape, "Christmas with Greg and Randy". I don't really have anything else to say about it, as these tapes tend to speak for themselves. For those of you who enjoy the "fly-on-the-wall" home recordings that I've shared from time to time, I think this is a pretty good one.

Download: Christmas with Greg and Randy

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and all that good stuff to everyone who reads these posts, and your families, too!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

WLS, Channel 89, Chicago, Summer, 1967

Today, I have recordings that no doubt fit into the category of a "Holy Grail" for Chicago area collectors and collectors of radio recordings in general. That will follow at the bottom of this post, but before I get there, I have some thanks to give and some comments to quote.

First, and I apologize that this has taken five months, I received an anonymous comment from someone regarding "The Big Midwestern Hayride"; as follows:

I knew I recognized that Accordion & Piano Player playing in the Hayriders Band. That Randy Dirks is my Great Grandfather! Thanks so much for posting and making available!!! I think the Steel Player is Ray "Chubby" Howard. Do you have any photos or other memorabilia from the show? 

Here is a link with the band, my Great Grandfather (Randy Dirks) is on Accordion & Piano. Same fella in this audio reel of yours: 

I will add that I do not have any more photos or memorabilia, unfortunately, but am glad I was able to share this piece of your Great-Grandfather's career.

A reader named Eric provided some helpful information regarding the Long John Nebel tape:

The initial program on the tape the guests are Judith Malina, actress and founder of "The Living Theater" and Rosemary McGrath, a conservative activist with Young Americans For Freedom. At one point Long John Nebel refers to one of the plays put on by the Living Theater starring an actor named Kheigh Dheigh who would later become better known for his role as Wo Fat on "Hawaii Five-O." This dates the program based on what fragmentary info I can Google to 1961 since that's when the plays Nebel mentions were performing.

Thanks so much for that research - I appreciate the time that took, and that you wrote. If you care to do the same regarding future posts, by all means, please do.

Speaking of research, another anonymous poster has done some digging on two recent posts (I believe it was the same person both times), and has shared his/her findings with me. I am impressed by your research, who ever you are, and enthusiastically encourage more in the future. Thank you very much for all of your information.

For a post featuring some Australian Short-Wave broadcasting, I received the following:

I enjoy doing a bit of detective work based on the clues in your recordings. For example, for the "Listeners' Mailbag" segment, the following information can be found from searching the Web:

1) Keith Glover's last broadcast was on December 28, 1980; this sets an upper limit on the date of the recording.
2) "Mr. R.B. Gee" gives his address as "843, 310 Bloor Street West, Toronto 5, Ontario, Canada". He was using a "4-tube receiver, two years old" and "80 feet above ground". The address corresponds to the Tartu College Student Residence and, based on his apartment number and antenna height, "R.B. Gee" probably lived on the eighth floor. Tartu college was built in 1970, giving a lower limit on the date. Canada introduced a 6-character postal code system starting in 1971; it would have been rolled out to Toronto by 1974. Since the address is given using the old postal zone "Toronto 5" rather than postal code "M5S 1W4", we can guess that the recording was made before 1974. This also ties in nicely with the fact that the 2-year old receiver used four vacuum tubes; transistors had pretty much taken over by 1974.

So my guess is that the recording was made sometime between 1970 and 1974. Does the original tape box have any markings which might confirm this? 

(Unfortunately, again, the tape box is essentially blank for this recording - with nothing of note written on it at all.)
For the more recent "Gathering of Rude Friends"

Something about the way these people talk (but certainly not the content) reminds me of conversations around my in-laws' kitchen table, when their neighbors dropped by. (They owned a beef cattle farm in southern Ontario.) My father-in-law always referred to his wife as "Mother" and the accents are the same as those of rural Canadians.

I have fun playing detective when listening to your tapes. Here are some of the things I deduced:
1) Although these people sound much like Canadians they are definitely American since they use terms such as "Sears" (instead of "Simpsons-Sears"), "railroad" (instead of "railway"), and "Internal Revenue" (instead of "Revenue Canada"). To my Canadian ears, they don't have a strong accent, so I would guess a northern state.
2) There's a reference to a "Mrs. Larson" ("Larsen"?) in a mock-Swedish accent and also to a Swedish co-worker. According to Wikipedia, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan have the highest concentration of Swedish Americans.
3) The reference to "Michigan" makes it sound like it's a different state, so it can probably be eliminated.
4) When calling the police department, there is a reference to "Wisconsin [license] plates". This would suggest that these people are in Wisconsin (although Minnesota can't be ruled out).
5) There is a reference to "over in Bloomer". Although Minnesota has a Bloomer Township, in Marshall County, this phrase would better fit the Town of Bloomer or City of Bloomer, both in Chippewa County, Wisconsin.

So my guess is that these people lived on a farm or small village in (or near) Chippewa County, Wisconsin.

Again, thanks for all this research.

Finally, Brother Herbert offers up a suggestion regarding the "Check Your Phone Book" guy:

"Check Your Phone Book" guy sounds maddeningly familiar but I can't quite place him. Tone and delivery are similar to James A. FitzPatrick of TRAVELTALKS fame - perhaps it's him? 

I had never heard of FitzPatrick before, but I had a listen, and it seems at least possible.

And now, on with the countdown:


So here's a tape I'd had for years, and had honestly forgotten about. But I've recently begun trying to arrange my tapes in a more coherent way, and as part of that, I've been replaying those which were poorly marked or unmarked. The first fruit of this project to be interesting enough for this site is that "Holy Grail" I referred to above, an hour of recordings from WLS, 890 AM (or Channel 89), largely from the late summer of 1967.

And interestingly, there is a lot more DJ chatter here than you'll find on many surviving tapes of the era. Usually, over the air recordings feature the songs a young person wished to listen to again and again, often with the beginnings and the endings cut off, with little or no DJ personality heard.

This isn't quite the opposite - there are several songs here - but the DJ in question, Ron Riley for most of the recording, had a lot to say, and kept saying it. He was back from (and talking about) his vacation, he was reporting on the demise of Pirate Radio in England (nicely dating the primary recording here to roughly August 14th, 1967), and engaging in a bunch of unrelated banter. There are also several commercials, and he even interviews that dream James Darren shortly before the tape runs out. The recording quality is not the best, but it'll do.

Side Two is much less interesting, until near the end. On this side, the sound quality worsens considerably, and is honestly awful during the first half of that 30 minute segment (it's bad after that, too). This doesn't seem to be from the same day, but the host is still Ron Riley, until near the end, when we jump forward several months, to Groundhog Day, 1968, and hear a (typically darkly) humorous audio essay from the legendary Larry Lujack, shortly before that side of the tape runs out.

I hope you enjoy this tape as much as I do!

Download: WLS, Mostly 1967, Side One

Download: WLS, Mostly 1967, Side Two

The best news is, I believe there are several more tapes down in the basement, also featuring Chicago radio from the same era!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Gathering of Idiots

Okay, I can't stand these people.

I've been sitting on this tape for quite a while now, but have decided to spring it on you nice, unsuspecting folks today. You're welcome.

What we have here is over 100 minutes of a group of people - at least some from the same family, and probably some friends, too - who seemingly never tire of talking about, joking about, and laughing at, bodily functions, body parts and sexual acts. It would be one thing if anything here reached the even the lowest level of being funny, OR if they moved on for even a moment into discussions of anything else.

But no, for nearly the entire hour and forty-one minutes (excepting only the first few minutes), this gang of cretins just fall over each other laughing about variations of the same dozen-or-so bodily/sexual references and dirty words. I find this tape nothing short of astonishing.

I've never known anyone like any of the people heard here - well, at least not well enough to know that he or she was like this - and I truly hope I never do.

Oh, and a side note - the tape opens with some badly recorded, god-awful drumming, which lasts less than 30 seconds. Then, for the first 20 minutes or so, the speed of the tape is fairly iffy, with the voices sounding noticeably fast at times. The sound is normal from that point on.

Download: Unknown - A Gathering of Rude Friends and Family