We Gave Joan Rivers a Tape-Lift

Thursday, September 04, 2014 - 05:23 PM

At the risk of sounding ghoulish and terribly morbid...

Like any good news organization, when we heard Joan Rivers went into the ICU at Mt. Sinai, we tried to prepare for the worst. The Archives Department got into gear and started looking for all the material we had with the funny woman. Lo and behold a ten-inch reel of back-coated polyester tape from 1999 shows up in the catalog. And, perhaps Rivers would have appreciated it, the 15-year-old tape of her needed a face lift.

It was, like a lot of our tape collection, suffering from binder breakdown and/or hydrolysis, a.k.a sticky-shed syndrome. In short, the goo that holds the oxide particles to the tape itself becomes a bit undone, which makes playing the tape next to impossible without squeaking and squealing and gummy residue left on the tape machine heads. It leaves a mess and a muddy sound.

A quick remedy? Baking. The tape goes into a laboratory convection oven for four hours at 53 centigrade (130 Fahrenheit). Then, out on a shelf like a fresh apple pie to cool. More often than not, the tape plays back through the tape machine transport without a hitch allowing us to create a digital master from the original analog tape.

So, here she is on July 18, 1999, with Leonard Lopate in the old WNYC studios having a grand time making jokes and puns about getting old and dying.



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Comments [1]

Richard from NYC

Thanks for digitizing this interview. Leonard Lopate and Joan Rivers were clearly having a great time. What a treat to listen for the first time.

Sep. 05 2014 11:39 AM

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About NYPR Archives & Preservation

Mission Statement: The New York Public Radio Archives supports the mission and goals of WNYC and WQXR by honoring the broadcast heritage of the radio stations and preserving their organizational and programming legacy for future generations of public radio listeners. The Archives will collect, organize, document, showcase and make available for production all original work generated by and produced in association with WNYC and WQXR Radio.

The NYPR Archives serves the stations staff and producers by providing them with digital copies of our broadcast material spanning WNYC and WQXR's respective 90 and 77 year histories.  We also catalog, preserve and digitize, provide reference services, store, and acquire WNYC and WQXR broadcast material (originals and copies) missing from the collection. This repatriation effort has been aided by dozens of former WNYC and WQXR staff as well as a number of key institutions. Additionally, our collecting over the last ten years goes beyond sound and includes photos, publicity materials, program guides, microphones, coffee mugs, buttons and other ephemera. We've left no stone unturned in our pursuit of these artifacts. The History Notes is a showcase for many of these non-broadcast items in our collection. 

In fact, if you’ve got that vintage WNYC or WQXR knick-knack, gee-gaw, or maybe a photo of someone in front of our mic, an old program guide or vintage piece of remote equipment and would like to donate it to us, or provide a copy of the item to us, write to Andy Lanset at   

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