Sound Tape

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Synonyms: tape recording
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Before easy availability of VCRs, DVDs and their progeny, fans were at the mercy of first-run shows and syndication. They turned to recording the sound of their favorite programs with reel-to-reel, and then, cassette tape recorders. This allowed fans to listen to shows as if they were on the radio. These recordings were called sound tapes.

This fan activity had a major impact on Doctor Who fandom; some early Doctor Who episodes that were lost now survive only as sound recordings because fans taped the show.[1]

Examples of Use

  • "The Convention committee is planning a Coffee Evening... For a small entrance fee, there will be coffee and biscuits, tapes, slides and friendship." [2]
  • A fan from Minnesota asks other fans: "I would like someone who has Star Trek on their TV to tape for me on audio cassette as ST is not on TV where I live. I will provide the audio cassette and the package to send it back in." [3]
  • Some fans in Australia, unable to attend Zebra Con, had their own little con. It was 14 people in a house, a book of clippings to browse, two episodes on video cassettes, and six sound tapes of various episodes. [4]
  • A fan says she can't afford a video tape recorder, but "I do have a cassette recorder and a reel-to-reel recorder and my brother has an 8-track recorder, so we're pretty well-covered in the sound recording department." [5]
  • A fan describes the nights that Star Trek was broadcast, "My son Russ taped the episodes, and woe to anyone who so much as coughed" [6]
  • in 1982, two teenage fans snuck a tape recorder into a showing of Raiders of the Lost Ark, studied it and used it to remake the movie (a multi-year process) in their backyard. "In those days, before prompt home-video releases, the audiocassette made by Eric was crucial. The two boys committed its every line to memory, like religious scholars of old learning a sacred text, and they also trained themselves to match the actors’ inflections." [7]
  • A fan who lived in an area (Pennsylvania) where the show was not rerun, did not own a VCR, and only saw the show during its first run wrote: "However, I did audio tape every show and then in the six days between the episodes, I would laboriously copy, line by line, every word of dialogue. I would also include notes on physical movement, clothes, and prop placement that I had taken down while viewing the show." [8]
  • One fan writes: "In the late 1970s, I (like many other fans in the days before VCRs became commonplace) would take my Panasonic portable tape recorder and set it right in front of my TV's built-in speaker. I would then audiotape the entire show, cutting commercials, to give me something to go back and enjoy over-and-over." [9]
  • A fan in Wales in 1985 wrote: "FOR SALE! 80 audio tapes of S&H episodes. I now have these on video and am offering the audio tapes for sale for the cost of the tapes; sold either together or on an individual basis. [10]
  • From another fan in Wales in 1985: "A lot has been said recently about 4th season and the problems S&H appear to be having. I haven't seen quite all the episodes in question and some are vague in my memory. Just lately though I've been listening to several audio tapes of 4th season and trying to unravel the puzzle. [11]


  1. ^ Doctor Who on Wikipedia
  2. ^ from STAG #17
  3. ^ from Datazine #31
  4. ^ from the Starsky and Hutch letterzine S and H from October 1979
  5. ^ from the January 1980 issue of S and H
  6. ^ from Star Trek Lives!
  7. ^ "Raiders of the Backyard," from Vanity Fair, accessed December 1, 2010
  8. ^ from the letterzine, S and H #19 (February 1981)
  9. ^ Savage Says: The Most Dangerous Fan is an Obsessive Fan: Day-to-day drabbles from a teleholic posted 31 December 2011, accessed 13 May 2012
  10. ^ from APB #33
  11. ^ from APB #36