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]


  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