Let’s pause for a minute. “7 1/2 ips”. That means the tape moved at a speed of 7 1/2 inches per second. The other common speed was 15 i.p.s., but given how much tape that took, it was more common to use 7 1/2.

“Tails out” means that it was stored in reverse order and would have to be loaded onto another reel before being played. That was the best way to store the tape in order to prevent “ghosting” or audio bleeding through from other layers of tape.


KDKA-AM Program Director Marshall Adams recently dug through some station archives and found several boxes of reels. You remember reels don’t you? For those of you under 30, reels are/were rolled with audio tape used for recording programs, commercials and other such programming needs. To record or play a reel, you needed a machine (ironically called a reel-to-reel machine) with an empty reel on one side to collect the tape from the program reel.

These particular reels were used for commercial spots and were either hand-delivered or mailed around to other radio stations. Obviously these reels went to KDKA for on-air use. Nowadays it’s probably sent by email or downloaded from an ftp site! 

We asked Marshall if we could share them on PBRTV and he agreed. Here is the first one he shared with us, then click “MORE” to see the rest. Anyone recognize their handy work?