Voices in the Wire

Roman Mars:
This is 99% Invisible. I’m Roman Mars.

[Radio Transmissions:
“Radio transmission. The handle or name you adopted should be one of a kind, based on something special in your life.”

“All you nice people living in the middle of America, the beautiful.”

“Everything is beautiful.”

“We’re talking about radio, meaning you do not see the picture, you hear the voice. There’s something they call the vox humana, hear the human voice. The point is, radio involves the audience far more than television ever did.”

“This is WJAK, Monday, March 12th, 1973. Thank you, and here’s some more hit music.”

“Three, two, one.”

“On our way to Canaan land. Here we go.”]

Roman Mars:
There are those innovations that everyone loves and depends on. Your biggies like computers, electricity, the printing press. And then there are the innovations that made you who you are. Punk rock music, photocopiers, cassettes, nunchucks. But if I were to rank them, I think the two most important technological innovations to my life are broadcasting and home sound recording. And today I have two of my favorite stories from two of my favorite new productions all about the early days of broadcasting and recording. Radiotopians, Radio Diaries, and The Kitchen Sisters represent the best of what we can achieve in audio storytelling and here they are tackling the subjects that are near and dear to my heart. These pieces were first broadcast on NPR as part of The Kitchen Sisters’ ‘Lost & Found Sound’ series. First up with his story of Conrad’s Garage and the birth of commercial broadcasting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This is Joe Richman from Radio Diaries produced in 2001.

Joe Richman:
The sounds that came out of Frank Conrad’s garage in 1919 and 1920 are gone. There were no recordings made and everyone who participated in those weekly broadcasts has died. In fact, there may be only one person still alive who actually heard what was going on in that garage. A man named Harry Mills.

Harry Mills:
“This is K4HU.”

Johnny:
“Hello Harry, W1HVA.”

Harry Mills:
“Hello, Johnny. W1HVA, here’s K4HU. How are you this evening?”

Johnny:
“I’m pretty good. I’m a little sleepy.

Joe Richman:
Harry Mills is 94 years old. He was an engineer for RCA most of his life, but for the last eight decades he’s been going on the ham radio just about every day. Mills first discovered radio in 1919. He was 12 years old and his parents bought him a copy of the boy scout handbook.

Harry Mills:
In the book after a lot of the camping and setting up a tent in the rain and helping the old lady cross the street and so on, in the back was a chapter on how to build a wireless station. I had never heard of such a thing. So I built one. I’ll show you how it works. It was built out of photograph plates and tinfoil, a condenser, and this is weatherstripping and this is a Ford coil, Ford ignition coil, which would hook onto your antenna and you’re on the air.

Joe Richman:
This is what radio sounded like when Mills first started: the dots and dashes of Morse Code.

Harry Mills:
That’s the letter V. Which you use for test purposes. If he hears me, he’d come back and we’d hold a conversation as simple as that.

Joe Richman:
Almost every night, Harry Mills would lie in his bed and listen to the amateur radio operator’s signal back and forth. Then one night he heard something different.

Harry Mills:
I remember it was 10 or 11 o’clock at night and all at once this voice appears, and I remember letting out a yelp or shout of some sort, and my dad who had just gotten out of the bath, come in wrapped in a towel, just to make sure I was all right, something hadn’t happened to me and I said, “Dad, look, I’m hearing this fellow talking.” And we shared the headphones, we only had one pair of headphones and he realized that I was right.

Joe Richman:
Harry Mills had stumbled onto the experimental transmissions coming from Frank Conrad’s garage, 35 miles away.

Harry Mills:
He was talking to me he says, “Now I’m going to play a phonograph for you.” And he did. It was astounding, I didn’t know you could do that. To begin with, I hadn’t heard voice before and to add that to music, it opens up a whole new world.

Joe Richman:
Frank Conrad was not the first person to talk and play music on the radio. Inventors like Reginald Fessenden, Lee de Forest, and Marconi had been doing such experiments as early as 1906. But back then radio was seen as a method of one-to-one communication, like the telegraph. Few envisioned radio as a way to reach many people at the same time; to broadcast. Frank Conrad was among the first to use the word broadcasting. It was originally an agricultural term used to describe the distribution of seeds over a large area. In his garage, Conrad helped to change the concept of radio and he did it largely by accident.

Frank Conrad:
“Testing, testing. Testing, one, two, three. Test one, two, three. This is Frank Conrad from the garage. This is what it would have sounded like anyway.”

Joe Richman:
It’s probably fair to say that nobody cares more about Frank Conrad’s garage than a man named Rick Harris. Harris is an amateur historian who has dedicated his life to preserving and researching the history of that garage. He’s collected replicas of the equipment Conrad used. A microphone made out of the top of a candlestick telephone mounted in a small box stuffed with cotton in a hand-cranked Victrola.

Rick Harris:
You turn the crank.

Joe Richman:
Rick Harris says the story of Frank Conrad’s garage really begins with that Victrola. Conrad was an engineer for Westinghouse, so we had access to vacuum tubes, which allowed him to transmit his voice over the air. But at the time, Conrad wasn’t thinking about broadcasting. He was simply trying to test and improve his transmitting equipment.

Rick Harris:
The problem was his voice after talking endless hours into the microphone would wear out. So he got the idea one day to put on a record that would give him two or three minutes to adjust his equipment and would save his voice. And as soon as he started playing the music, he began getting requests for more music and he would get phone calls and letters asking him to play a certain song at a certain time so someone listening with their crystal set could convince a relative that you could actually play music over the air. He found, very quickly, that there was an unseen audience out there.

Frank Conrad:
“People would call me up at night and ask me to transmit. They want something, said they had some friends who wanted to listen to something coming out of the air.”

Roman Mars:
This is Frank Conrad recorded in the late 1930s not long before he died.

Frank Conrad:
“And they finally got to take care of that. I sort of arranged the program twice a week. Everyone’s in Saturday night. Of course, that time I actually had no idea what they’re going to end up to do.”

Joe Richman:
Over time, Conrad’s garage started to sound more like a radio station. Along with phonograph records, Conrad would transmit piano solos by family members and baseball scores and then when he started to run out of records to play, Conrad went to the Hamilton music store and asked if he could borrow some for his broadcasts. The owner said yes, as long as Conrad agreed to announce the name of the store on the air. Slowly Conrad was building the one thing the radio industry hadn’t yet thought much about, an audience. But the real turning point came on September 29th, 1920 when the Joseph Horne department store placed this ad in the Pittsburgh Sun.

Advertisement:
“Air concert picked up by radio here. The music was from a Victrola in the home of Frank Conrad. Mr. Conrad is a wireless enthusiast and puts on the wireless concerts periodically for the entertainment of many people in this district who have wireless sets. Amateur wireless sets are on sale here, $10 and up.”

Rick Harris:
The ad really caught the attention of Conrad’s boss at Westinghouse, a man by the name of Harry Davis, who the story goes, called Conrad in the next day and said essentially I would like to put you out of business because I would like Westinghouse to set up its own station. And Davis asked Conrad, “Could that be done?” And Conrad said, “Of Course.”

Joe Richman:
So over the next month, Conrad and his team began constructing a wooden shack on the roof of the Westinghouse plant. They built a 100-watt transmitter and at 6 PM on the night of November 2, 1920, the newly licensed station, KDKA, went on the air.

Leo Rosenberg:
“This is KDKA, of the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We shall now broadcast the election returns.”

Roman Mars:
The station launched by broadcasting the returns of the Harding-Cox presidential election. There were no recordings of that broadcast, but in the late 1930s the original announcer, Leo Rosenberg made this recreation.

Leo Rosenberg:
“We’d appreciate it if anyone hearing this broadcast would communicate with us as we are very anxious to know how far the broadcast is reaching and how it is being received.”

Harry Mills:
Well, nobody had ever heard of such a thing before. You had to wait until the next day to find out who won the election.

Joe Richman:
Harry Mills, who was 13 by this time, remembers going down to the local newspaper where they had set up a receiving station.

Harry Mills:
Somebody would sit at the receiver and a crowd gathered outside or a number of people and they would watch these returns being updated as the numbers came in bigger. The next day on the newspaper, of course, the talk was, ‘gee, for the first time ever, people were able to get the reports before the newspaper was printed.’

Susan Douglas:
I think it’s very difficult for us today to imagine really quite what a magical moment this was.

Roman Mars:
Susan Douglas is a professor at the University of Michigan and the author of ‘Inventing American Broadcasting’. She says the KDKA election broadcast was a watershed event.

Susan Douglas:
And because there were no connecting wires, because there was this concept of the ether, there was kind of a cosmic connection for people. It was a quasi, sort of spiritual event that these voices were coming out of the air into your home.

Joe Richman:
And two weeks after that first transmission, Westinghouse introduced the first radio for the general public, the Aeriola Jr, which sold for $25. The broadcasting boom had begun and over the next few years, radio would move out of the garage and into the living room.

KDKA Radio Ad:
“Sounds wonderful, it’s KDKA Pittsburgh. Wherever you go, whatever you do-”

Joe Richman:
Today KDKA is considered the oldest radio station in the country. History has not been as kind to Frank Conrad’s garage. This fall, bulldozers began to clear the site. It will soon be a Wendy’s. The bulldozers destroyed Conrad’s house, but Rick Harris and a group of supporters called the Conrad Project, managed to save the garage, piece by piece.

Rick Harris:
The woodwork, all of the doors, the windows and some 25,000 or so bricks. The ones that survived, anyway. I don’t know. It’s just the more I learn about Frank Conrad and what he did and the fact that he’s virtually unknown outside of Pittsburgh, it’s just something… it feels that he’s been overlooked for what he did.

Joe Richman:
Someday Harris hopes to reconstruct Conrad’s garage and turn it into a museum. Frank Conrad may have helped to launch the modern broadcasting industry, but that wasn’t really his vision. Conrad was just a talented engineer tinkering late at night in his garage, trying to connect to people through the air and that pretty well describes what 94-year-old Harry Mills is still doing every night at 10 PM.

Guy:
“W1UEA.”

Harry Mills:
“W1UEA, here’s K4HU. Thank you, Guy. Yes, I’m reading you very well.”

Guy:
“Okay, Harry. Very good-”

Joe Richman:
After all this time, Harry Mills says he still feels the same way he felt when he first heard Frank Conrad’s voice coming out of the radio.

Harry Mills:
To me, it’s difficult to describe the fascination of it. I know I use it all the time. How does it happen? Can’t see the fellow. No wires going from here to there, but you can talk to him. It was a phenomenon that interested me from the beginning. I presume it’s safe to say that that has… I’ve never gotten over it.

Harry Mills:
“So with that, I’m going to say good night. Thanks for the use of your loudspeaker. Good night, Bob and goodnight, Guy. W1TRF, K4HU.”

Roman Mars:
‘Conrad’s Garage’ was produced by Joe Richman of Radio Diaries in 2001 for the ‘Lost & Found Sound’ series. Harry Mills, who was featured in that piece died in 2008. Conrad’s Garage is still a pile of loose bricks in storage awaiting its final resting place as a museum. So someday… someday, we hope you’ll be able to see it for yourself.

Roman Mars:
So here’s the deal, Radio Diaries has a podcast, it’s part of Radiotopia and recently their stories were featured on ‘This American Life’ and ‘Planet Money’. And Joe Richman, offhandedly said to me when we were talking about today’s show, we’ll see if you promoting the Radio Diaries podcast on 99% Invisible will result in more Radio Diaries subscribers than Planet Money or TAL.

Roman Mars:
Now, I don’t know if you know this about me, but I am extremely competitive and so I need everyone hearing my voice to subscribe to the Radio Diaries podcast right now. Here’s the thing, you’ll get short, fortnightly stories that’ll blow your mind. Radio Diaries will reach more people than ever, and I’ll get to demonstrate the power of this fully operational battle station. Everyone wins except ‘Planet Money’ and ‘This American Life’. They’re going to lose. So you got it? Subscribe now. It’s important. Ira’s watching.

Roman Mars:
Now, I don’t want to push my luck here, but there’s another podcast that you’ll want to subscribe to right now that equally deserves to rocket up the podcast charts. It’s called ‘Fugitive Waves’ from The Kitchen Sisters, and if you require proof of why you need to subscribe to another podcast, well then I have the perfect story for you. This is probably one of the top 10 radio stories of all time. It was first broadcast on NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’ in 2004. The hosting by Noah Adams and Robert Siegel is really integrated into the story, so I decided to present it as is.

Robert Siegel:
This is NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’.

Roman Mars:
No, it’s not.

Robert Siegel:
I’m Robert Siegel.

Noah Adams:
And I’m Noah Adams.

Roman Mars:
What’s up, guys?

Noah Adams:
Each week we began our ‘Lost & Found Sound’ series with this theme, it’s called ‘Music in Marble Halls’. This improvised duet of clarinet and high heels crossing a Manhattan office lobby was recorded in 1962 by New York audio legend Tony Schwartz, one of the most original and eccentric sound gatherers of the century.

Robert Siegel:
It was 1945 when Tony Schwartz first stepped out of his apartment with a microphone to capture the sounds of his neighborhood. Now, more than 50 years later, Tony Schwartz has amassed one of the largest and most eclectic collections of recorded sound in the world.

Noah Adams:
The Kitchen Sisters producers Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva visited Tony in his Midtown basement studio where he’s surrounded by tape recorders, mixing consoles, awards, photographs, and row upon row of audiotapes. Their story, ‘Tony Schwartz: 30,000 Recordings Later’, looks at the legacy of a man who has spent his life exploring and influencing the world through recorded sound, beginning with a work called ‘New York 19’.

Tony Schwartz:
‘New York 19’ was the non-commercial musical life of my postal zone and the postal zone was New York 19 at that time. It’s 10019 now. That was the area I could travel in. I’m not able to travel far. I have agoraphobia and in walking, I could just go around my postal zone in the midst of Manhattan.

Tony Schwartz:
I made the first portable tape recorder. I brought the VU meter from inside the case to the top so I could look down at it and see how loud things were. I put a strap on it so I could have it over my shoulder. That was 1945. I could go record children in the park doing jump rope rhymes and I recorded the street festivals. I made 14 records for Folkways Records. You can see them up there. The children’s games in the street, I called it, ‘1, 2, 3 and a Zing, Zing, Zing’.

Children Singing:
“There’s a big fat policeman at the door, door, door-”

Tony Schwartz:
I was interested in the sound around us.

Cab Driver:
“Two things that you’re not allowed to carry in taxi cabs, one is fish, the other is bedding-”

Tony Schwartz:
I had a wrist mic. I had a brush lapel mic and I would put it on a wristwatch band and I’d put out my sleeve. So I would just walk around and record that way. Like when I went into the pawnshop and I did cab drivers. That way I recorded about 700-800 cab drivers.

Cab Driver:
“…in midtown from 14th street to 59th street. No parking allowed in the daytime, only after 6 o’clock.”

Tony Schwartz:
I had recorded the songs on jukeboxes in the restaurants or bars that catered to the various groups around my postal zone. What I would do is get people in the restaurant who spoke English to come over and translate it for me.

Puerto Rican:
“The country in which I was born is suffering many, many economic things. Even though I would feel terrible there. In my country, there are always flowers. That is my paradise. I won’t change Puerto Rico for 60 New Yorks. I won’t change Puerto Rican chickens, by frozen chickens in the iceboxes here.”

Max Nichols:
“This is Max Nichols of Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa calling Tony Schwartz of New York, USA.”

Woman:
“Hello, Tony Schwartz. I’m bringing you greetings from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.”

Tony Schwartz:
When I got my first wire recorder, I asked the company if they would give me the guarantee slips from people from all over the world and all over this country who bought recorders who said they were buying them because of their interest in music and I would exchange wires with people in other countries who were interested in folk music and they would send me material from their countries.

Tony Schwartz:
“My name is Tony Schwartz. The music you’ll hear is a Peruvian Indian playing his guitar on a quiet summer evening. This is one of 15,000 recordings I’ve collected. Recordings of folk music and folklore. Recordings I’ve exchanged with people all over the world.”

Cowboy:
“Hello, Tony. I received your letter here the other day. Well, I’m going to send you a wire and all this stuff that I generally do, you know, singing the cowboy stuff. I didn’t know you fellows in New York City appreciate this kind of music. We folks around here do, this hillbilly stuff.”

Tony Schwartz:
That’s how it started. Recordings came in from all parts of the United States, from all parts of the world. Recordings on wire, recordings on tape. One of my exchanges was with a man who wanted sounds he no longer heard.

Man:
“Tony, I wonder if you’d do me a favor. I live out in the country and originally I came from the city and I kind of miss it and I was wondering if you would record some sounds of the city and send them out to me. I’d really like to hear it. How about it?”

Tony Schwartz:
Part of my answer was recorded in Times Square. A week later, I found this in my mailbox.

Man:
“Tony, I received your sounds of the city this morning and I’ve been playing them ever since. I noticed that you said that you recorded them about 8:30 at night so to reciprocate, here’s the sounds of my country, 8:30 at night.”

Tony Schwartz:
The voices and music of the world came into my apartment in New York City and I traveled no further than my mailbox. In people talking, there’s an innate musicality in the way certain people speak, and also in the barkers at nightclubs or various places. The sound of selling used to be the people, vendors going by in the street or people singing in the backyard or shouting in the backyard. Now, it’s over the radio or television. I did a whole record on the sound of selling.

Vendor:
“Flowers, flowers!”

Robert Siegel:
Vegetable men shouting, “apples, apples!” on the street with that horse and wagon selling vegetables.

Vendor:
“My mule is white. My charcoal is black. I sells my charcoal to-”

Tony Schwartz:
There were men who would go around buying old clothes and they go, “I cash clothes, I cash clothes.”

[WNYC Clip:
“It was February 3, 1956 when Tony Schwartz appeared at the information desk of the animal shelter to ask for a dog.”

“The attendant will take you into adoption ward, in ward A. Look at the dogs and if there’s anything you select, you tell him that the dog you want.”

“These are obedience trained dogs working toward degrees, which of course, that’s like receiving a college diploma.”]

Tony Schwartz:
I did a radio program once a week on WNYC for over 35 years. I would do it on any subject that came up to me during the week.

Tony Schwartz:
“Good morning every year for the last 13 years I’ve been presenting the story and sound of the growth of my niece. (baby cries) We’ve all heard of time-lapse photography. Well, I’m going to apply this technique to the growth of my niece, Nancy, in sound. 13 years condensed into two minutes and 13 seconds. Here it goes.”

Tony’s Brother: Jack and Jill went up the…
Niece: Hill.
Tony’s Brother: To fetch a pail of…
Niece: Water.
Tony’s Brother: Jack fell down and broke…
Niece: Crown.
Tony’s Brother: And Jill came tumbling…
Niece: After. How was that, daddy?

Tony Schwartz:
I would record the sound of my daughter growing up. I have her first cries after being born. I had a microphone over her bed and a recorder in her bedroom and any time I heard her beginning to wake up or anything, I can turn on the recorder and record the sound of her waking up.

Niece:
“… I can crawl. Tony, if the dog breaks when we’re in the house, if he’s had… If he has to make him a housebroken, if he makes wee-wee in the apartment, have to slap him with a newspaper. Then if he doesn’t do it again, he’s housebroken.”

Tony Schwartz:
“What do you think of the Russian sending the dog up in the satellite?”

Niece:
“Well, I hope he doesn’t get hurt, but if he does, I’m sure they’ll send up a medical satellite.”

Tony Schwartz:
A black woman was working as a nurse for our child and when she’d go home at night, I’d take her out to get a cab to go up to Harlem. If she’d hail a cab, they wouldn’t stop for her. Blacks couldn’t get taxis to pick them up and I interviewed cab drivers, why they don’t like to go to Harlem and I put that in the program.

Niece:
“It’s all girls. You’ll mess my hair and it’s very special for tonight. It’s just the way I want it. It’s a pageboy with a high top and that’s the way I like it.”

Niece:
“I’m taking guitar lessons and that’s fun. I take drama lessons after school and that’s great. And I’ve been working on the school newspaper. I might be editor next year and… I’ve been discovering boys.”

Tony Schwartz:
How’d I come to these ideas? Just from being human and working with sound and knowing how sound affected me and affected other people.

Darryl Churney:
“Here lies Tony Churney, once a pet turtle of Darryl Churney. Died, February 24, 1964.”

Tony Schwartz:
“Who dies?”

Darryl Churney:
“My turtle Tony. He got a softshell and we tried to save him by giving him hamburger but he died and we’re going to bury him.”

Tony Schwartz:
“How do you feel about it?”

Darryl Churney:
“Not too well. Sort of a tragedy for me. I’m going to play taps and the flag is because I like him, just like the President of the United States when he died except, but he’s like in my family. Give me turtle.”

Woman Sings:
“Come to me, my melancholy baby. Cuddle up and don’t be blue.”

Girl:
“Can a baby feel blue?”

Woman Sings:
“Anybody can feel blue. All your fears are foolish fancy. Maybe.”

Tony Schwartz:
Well, I was born at the beginning of Time. Time magazine started the year I was born.

Harry Belafonte:
“Daylight come and we wanna go home.”

Tony Schwartz:
Harry Belafonte was a pop singer when I met him. I got him into the Jamaican songs.

Harry Belafonte:
“This is another working song. It is the Banana Loading Song. Day-o, day-o, day, daylight and me wan’ go-”

Tony Schwartz:
I met a woman who was a cashier at Macy’s and her name was Louise Bennett, and she knew all the Jamaican folklore and I played those songs to Harry Belafonte. I got from a nightclub in Africa, songs like ‘Wimoweh’. Remember that? And ‘Everybody Loves Saturday Night’. ‘Wimoweh’ I gave to the Weavers and ‘Everybody Loves Saturday Night’ I gave to what’s his name, he owns a casino in Atlantic City, he used to be a singer. He also… I watched Jeopardy on television, you ever watch that? And who was the guy that is the founder of it? Merv Griffin. I gave him, ‘Everybody Loves Saturday Night’.

Tony Schwartz:
“Good morning. Today I’d like to play two beautiful songs sung by Paul Robeson.”

Tony Schwartz:
I think he was one of the great singers of our time. In the McCarthy era, Robeson couldn’t travel because they called him a communist, which is ridiculous. He wasn’t a communist, he just believed in internationalism. He wanted to send tapes to various places around the world. One I did to send to England for a speech for him, was about peace, so I had his song behind it. Then I had his narration over that.

Paul Robeson:
“Peace and friendship with our great wartime ally and enduring peace growing out of united United Nations. Out of friendship with the Soviet people-”

Tony Schwartz:
I did it for many people who could not travel from W.E.B. Du Bois, I would record speeches that he wanted to give in South Africa.

W.E.B. Du Bois:
“Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois of New York, writer and president of the Pan African Congress, to the peoples of Africa, greeting.”

Tony Schwartz:
Then when the Hollywood 10 was supposed to go to jail for being un-American and many of them had made movies that I loved. I recorded all of them the night before they went to jail. Dalton Trumbo telling what he was accused of.

Tony Schwartz:
“How did they treat you in front of this committee?”

Dalton Trumbo:
“The committee was anti-Semitic, anti-labor, anti-Negro, pro-war and had been denounced by everyone from Roosevelt down over-”

Tony Schwartz:
The ridiculousness of this McCarthy era, you know, he started the whole thing of loyalty oaths, most people think of evil. As the sounds of gunfire or thunder or lightning or something. I found and believe that the most evil sounds in the world are the sounds out of mouths of people.

Tony Schwartz:
I’ve used media to shame people into proper behavior. In primitive cultures, if someone did something shameful, word of mouth got around the village and an hour or so. In our culture, the same thing exists, but if you divide the distance of our country into the speed of sound, you’ll find it would take a 64th of a second to reach across the country by telephone, radio, television or anything like that.

Tony Schwartz:
I did a commercial with the Pope against nuclear weapons. I’ve been against nuclear weapons since 1939. One thing I’ve done was the Daisy spot for President Johnson. I was working on sound for six or seven commercials in the campaign against Barry Goldwater. One of them was a little girl counting down and picking the petals off a Daisy. Then there’s the countdown and then the bomb goes off.

Tony Schwartz:
“What would you say to young people who smoke?”

Woman:
“I would say that they’re very foolish, even to consider it. I had to have my voice box removed. I have a hole in my throat that’s what I breathe through.”

Tony Schwartz:
I teach a course for NYU. I also teach media and public health at Harvard. Both places come here. I have agoraphobia. I don’t travel. I’m not able to travel. I have used the telephone to teach all over the world. In Sweden, in Japan, South America, Australia.

Tony Schwartz:
My brother built a one-tube radio, which never worked and I used to go up in the attic and play a spaceship-like Jack Armstrong. I was also interested in physics and the physics teacher was interested in amateur radio and I first built my own receivers and huge 20-meter antennas and I built my own little shack where I had a 16-by-16 and I had my radio station in the front, my bed in the back and I ran a telephone line up to the house so my mother could call me in for supper. I made up shortwave listener cards, speak to them on the radio and I would tell them how they are coming in. I think the most important thing we can work on in communication is to make the world safer for the people who live in it. People, that’s what I was most interested in. People in their life and what they do.

Noah Adams:
‘Tony Schwartz: 30,000 Recordings Later’ was produced by The Kitchen Sisters, Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva with help from Tim Berbee, Nina Ellis and Jim Anderson mixed by Jim McKee at Earwax Productions in San Francisco. This week, ‘Lost & Found Sound’ thanks Rena Schwartz, Gabriel Lewis and stations KQBD and WNYC.

Roman Mars:
Tony Schwartz died in 2008 you can still buy his amazing recordings on iTunes. They’re worth every penny. You should get them. Thanks to the Kitchen Sisters for introducing me to him. Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson are total heroes to me. Their podcast is essential listening. It’s called ‘Fugitive Waves’.

  1. Joe

    Roman! What’s the song in this show that starts at about the 1 minute mark? It starts right at the end of the transmission collage.

    Your show is incredible

  2. Bravos, Roman. Great show. Let me suggest some good reading. Two books by the gifted Tony Schwartz: The Responsive Chord and Media The Second God.

  3. Great question at the beginning, Roman, about which technologies have had the greatest personal impact on us. Thank you for this great work!

  4. Michael Biel

    Why do you call it Voices in the WIRE?? Both machines you show are TAPE recorders. See the crank on the top machine? That is an Amplifier Corp of America TAPE recorder which used a spring wound phonograph motor. The tape ran from the right to the left reel because the motor spindle — being used as a capstan — ran clockwise. If you do the research I think you will find that he started his battery recording around 1952.

  5. Mike

    What is the song playing in the background at the very beginning? I can’t get it to come up on Shazam…

  6. Episodes like this one frustrate me. They’re interesting and all, and it’s nice to learn about other podcasts that you like, Roman, but my favorite podcast is 99% Invisible. It’d be nice if these rebroadcasts were in addition to your normal shows rather than in place of them.

    1. Matthew

      This was an absolutely phenomenal episode! I really appreciate the exposure to these other series, I don’t believe I would have ever tuned into them otherwise.

      I think what you appreciate Dave, is Roman’s curation of fascinating topics. This episode was merely an extension of that curation.

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