Listen: Musical trip down '80s memory lane with Xeni and her brother Carl Hamm




Back in the misty days of the early 90s, way before the Diamond Rio or ipod I was resisting the scratchy skippy CD. For years I ran with a few gifted tapes, and a few more mix tapes either from my sister or my future sister-in-law. There is something missing from the world when you can just rip youtube or torrrent some MP3s. Real love is sitting and recording songs on the radio, remixing the good ones on a dual deck boombox or more likely two decks connected with a patch cable, then labeling and gifting to someone. It was a great DIY gift with way more teen-pirate cred than anything from the piratebay and it actually took at least double the run time and often times far longer to make one tape.


I wonder sometimes if we listened more closely then


I still have some old tapes kicking around.


I’m glad that someone, somewhere, was able to make a cool LPFM station. I built an unlicensed FM station in my home city Tucson in the late nineties because I was disgusted with what passed for interesting radio. This was when the LPFM movement was taking hold. It ended up being not very useful around here, because all the usable frequencies got filled with more dreck between then and now. The nearest place to have an LPFM station is 50 miles from town, which is rather useless for the intended purpose.


For some reason I’ve been watching Suburban Lawns videos on YouTube since this thread.


I was actually thinking about this yesterday: how we spent an inordinate, but totally proportionate, amount of time making these tapes. They were a way of telling our friends how we felt and what we thought was important.

I still make playlists and torrent the Best Albums of the year for my kids each Christmas, but it’s not the same as setting the needle to the groove and LISTENING to the entire song. Dragging files just isn’t the same.


I’ve got £5 that says the Stones song is Undercover.


My high school had a low-powered FM station, WMPH (under some kind of educational license. Their current hardware broadcasts at 100 watts, but it was a lot lower back when I was there.)

Meanwhile, here in the San Francisco Bay Area, the one time I tried an audio-to-FM frob to feed MP3s to my car radio, there wasn’t an empty spot on the FM dial unless I was driving through some parts of the mountains.


It really is the same. What’s not the same is me.


Step/half-brother? Jardin/Hamm?

ETA: Nevermind. Wiki explains it all.


You know what really took me back about that tape? The NR checkbox.


DJ Jamón Virginia would be a cool name for their torrentable mashups.


hehe - the Stones song was “Before they make me run”


I have made fewer and fewer mix CDs myself over the years, and far fewer than I ever made of mix tapes. Mix tape swaps were the main way I got introduced to new music back in college and grad school, trading with friends from BBSs and Usenet. When I was able to burn CDs, the appeal was initially tremendous because the process was so much faster, but listening to them was a totally different experience (for one thing, there’s no Side 1 and Side 2 to facilitate a sudden mood transition! But on the other hand, I could easily listen to every intro and outro to see how well they went together or not).

The last time I shared a mix, I dumped the tracks and playlist into a Dropbox and hit “share.” Not the same at all. I didn’t even make cover art! :frowning:


Mix-tape making was a big deal…you could record radio broadcasts and keep them for your very own. But the degradation was obvious: LP to tape…yes! Tape to tape…s’ok. Tape to tape to tape: static city. But we persevered we did. We created and organized, delineated and gave (with bated breath) to those we cared about or were interested in.

“Ahh the shiny brown tape (120 was too thin…60 not enough time to share ones genius…90 just right)…blowing in the wind: grab me a pencil before it’s too late…not that one!! I need a fatter diameter: windwindwind. Wheew…righteous tunes saved for posterity.”

I still have mine. Buried deep. Behind lock and key. With no means to play them.


I always loved mix tapes better, like something someone home baked, it has that love and effort factor that is always implied in anime to somehow haunt the item in a good way.
I wish my collection had not been stolen with my crap car radio, some of the tapes even had radio ID bits from 970 AM ‘The Beat’ KBBT Portland, the early 90s station that introduced me to so much good music. Until then the exclusive means to good music is either waiting for hours on a pop station or a mix tape.
970 also had the first streaming website I had ever seen, away at college I could still listen to the music, with similar compression to AM broadcast over a dialup connection, sadly they went before anyone had begun archiving anything on the 'net.
If anyone can point to a collection of audio files with Portland’s 1990s 970 ‘The Beat’ station ID bumpers it would make for a super nostalgia mix tape and make me very popular for at least a few days with my wife.


It is strange, but I miss the crappy AM or dub-taped loss of quality. It was how I experienced good music pretty much until the digital era, and now overly clear CD or digital replays sound too sharp and don’t fully bring back the feelings of the time when they were crap copies played through crap equipment with great friends.


My daughter has a good set of earbuds and access to a good quality stereo system, so I cringe when she’s listening to music through the tinny speaker on her smartphone. “How is she going to learn to love music when it all sounds like that?!” Then I remember my AM transistor radio,

and the tent walls that leaked if you touched the sides. And I think “Oh, yeah…”


Ah, radio station idents invoke such powerful memories for me. I’m thinking of idents from back in the day when there were still a few radio stations which had unique personalities, and played hand-picked tracks. As late as the 1980s even the AM stations produced interesting programming with local personalities.