pirate radio WCPR WFAT WHOT RFNY oldies top-40 rock and roll
About two years ago, I started going through all the tapes in my personal archive. I had literally hundreds of cassettes, reel-to-reels and other assorted formats of tapes full of airchecks, jingles and Beatles stuff. It seemed like a massive undertaking, but I figured I could let the tapes run, eat dinner, come back to the computer, save the files, burn them to CDs, and life would go on in a blissful state of inner happiness.
I started noticing that every other tape I looked at was an old WHOT broadcast. It was then that the big light bulb in my brain went off and I started putting all my energies into archiving the old WHOT airchecks, as well as any other Pirate Radio related material I could get my hands on.
I started harassing Hank and Jim until they finally cracked open their respective storage units and started pulling out THEIR tapes. The end result was a combined library of thousands of tapes - cassettes, reels, VHS and Beta tapes - all in varying states. Most were fine, but some - mainly, the older tapes - were right on the verge of decay. Naturally, I gave the oldest tapes top priority, and continue to work my way forward. At times, all there are to do are the older tapes, which is just as well.
Well, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that these tapes were a huge chunk of American underground radio broadcasting history. There really isn't any organized effort to preserve underground broadcasting airchecks, which is a huge shame. At the same time, these tapes are little bits of my personal past, saved on magnetic recording tape. There's something exhilarating, exciting, and a little bit unnerving about re-living 10-15 years of your past on tape!
I also know that these shows were very popular with the people that listened to, participated in, and enjoyed them...and some of them would like a chance to hear them again. I know I did. This gives me a chance to share these historic shows with those that remember them, and those that never heard them and would like to give them a listen for the first time.
Trust me, an undertaking like this is no small task. I have a cassette deck, complete with small screwdrivers for correct azimuth and alignment, a reel-to-reel deck, a VHS and a Beta machine, so that all available tapes can be transferred properly and correctly archived, logged, dated and tagged. Many of the tapes were labeled in an extremely suspect manner, so you have to do a little detective work to get the dates right. Plus, since the tapes are all mixed up and in no particular order, you have to be meticulously organized. Easy, it ain't. However, it is a labor of love.
In order to keep my own library of shows, I would often run my OWN aircheck tapes at the same time as the "official" airchecks were being done in the studio. The bonus of this is it allows me to piece together complete shows where some portions may have been missing. I also taped many shows that were not taped "in-house". Several shows that were not taped at all were donated by listeners over the years. This is the first time an attempt has been made to get everything in one place. So far, so good. Only minor headaches.
Hey, Can I Help?
Hell yeah. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of tapes of WHOT that were made in-house from the earliest days in September of 1980 to February of 1983. Around that time, the shows started being taped on a regular basis. I'm always on the lookout for ANY tapes from that early period, plus any tapes of WILD (pre-WHOT) shows. In fact, any tapes at all would be welcome, at least to compare to our library to complete or replace any missing ones.
If you're interested in sharing any tapes you might have, please contact me. No problem copying and returning tapes if they are ones we are missing. Help is always welcome, like ice cold lemonade on a hot, humid day.
As I continue to go through the archive, I will be posting shows here for listening and downloading! Click on the links below to hear the current shows as well as the on-going archive! Updates will be posted regularly. If you see anything you might want to hear, let me know and we'll put it up for you!
***NEW VIDEO!*** Co-archivist Kiki finds all this aircheck archiving is just TOO exciting!
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