Here's another rarity from radio history on the blog today.
A few years ago, a good friend, Bill Blodgett, gave me a vintage Lear wire recorder. If you're not familiar with the devices, wire recorders were a predecessor to magnetic tape recorders used by the military and for some recordings of field reports by reporters during World War II. After the War, they were marketed for home and business use. They recorded audio on a thin wire moving at around 20 inches per second. After only a few years, sales of wire recorders declined in favor of easier to use and edit tape recordings.
I have up a page about the recorder and some of the wires that Bill gave me with the set on my website. Most of the wires contained recordings of song, snippets of radio broadcasts, and events like Christmas or birthday parties and neither Bill nor I know who the original owners were.
Two wires among the recordings contain a rather unusual program. The show appears to have been created, perhaps for a private party, by the staff of radio station WLAV for their tenth anniversary. Below is a link to the two excerpts found on different wires - the program is almost complete when you listen to the excerpts one after another.
The show tells a funny dramatized story about the history of the station, poking fun at WLAV's founder and owner, Leonard Allen Versluis. It also frames the "show" as a broadcast from the ABC network, so I'm assuming the station was an affiliate at the time. WLAV started broadcasting in 1940, so that would make this recording date from 1950. According to Wikipedia, WLAV-AM, located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is now WBBL, which broadcasts with a sports-talk format.
I contacted the station about the recording, but, with the changes in management over the past fifty-plus years, they didn't know anything about it. They wanted a copy for their collection and I sent it to them.
What surprised me about this wire and some others was the quality - I've always heard that wire recorders sounded rather poor, but this rivals some audio tape recordings from the time in frequency response. The anniversary show appears to have been dubbed either from an acetate or tape made at the station.
If you ever run into old wire recordings or reels of tape, be sure to pick them up and give them a listen - you never know what might turn up.
WLAV Anniversary - Part 1 (1:57, MP3 - 2.7 MB)
WLAV Anniversary - Part 2 (10:48, MP3 - 14.9 MB)