You don't need a $1000 video cassette recorder to tape your Soap Opera. A $25 portable recorder will do. A new cult of Soap Opera addicts has
emerged who tap just the audio porton of thier Soaps. Since these programs are almost all dialog, and use names frequently, you can follow the plot quite well.
This year the manufacturers have some terrififc AM/FM Radio Cassette Recorders with TV bands that are perfedt for this. They are under $100, weigh about six pounds, and are smaller than a bread box. This masterpiece of technology allows you to take your Soap with you wherever you go.
The first time I used mine I had an 11 a.m. dentist appointment. I took my radio cassette with me in a tote bag. (Simplicity patrtern #9752). The manufacturers warn against leaving the machine in a closed car, the sun could melt the plastic parts. Even the trunk isn't a good place unless you know the temperature won't get too hot or cold. Consider the possibility of theft, too. It's really best to take it with you.
A I hurried out of the dentist's 7th floor office, I glared at my oversized Timex, "Oh dear, it's 12 noon right now and I promised to tape AMC (All My Children) for MIllie today," I said aloud to myself in the deserted hallway. I debated. I could wait until I reached the car a half a block away or try to set it up right there. I stopped at a bench near the elevator and turned the tuning knob until I recognized Hal Linden's voice on "FYI", the ABC spot that immediately preceeds AMC. I checked the volume and tone and placed the small white earphone plug into the external speaker jack. Instantly the hallway was quiet again. I hadn't learned then to just plug the other end into my ear and do it all silently. I entered the elevator balancing my tan leather purse on one shoulder and carrying the six pound tote bag with the cassette like a baby in my hands. I was afraid I'd bump the tuning knob on the side and knock it off the station.
At the 6th floor, another plump, middle aged lady got aboard.
"I'm taping my soap," I said nervously.
"Oh, which one?"
"All My Children."
:Oh, that's mine, too." she looked wistfully.
"Would you like to hear it?" I removed the earphone plug and the elevator was flooded with the loud, irritated voice of Phoebe Tyler Wallingford. (Ruth Warrick)
"Coming, love (Langley - Louis Edmonds)
You were expected home hours ago. Didn't you notice the time?"
I fumbled to reinsert the plug as the door opened again and two slim nurses entered. "You really are a Soap Opera addict, aren't you?" one of them smirked.
"I'm taping it for a friend," I apologized lamely. then I wondered why so many of us are "closet addicts." After all, if Carol Burnett admits that she oten rearranges her busy daily schedule so that she can watch AMC (and if she misses it, she tapes it) why should I be ashamed of doing it?
These machines are also great for the hard-of-hearing because they can plug in the earphone, turn the volume as loud as they want, and watch the TV without disturbing the rest of the family.
You can take this TV/Radio in the car and listen to your Soap, as you tape it. This eliminates that 60 mph dash nome to get in front of the TV by "story time." You can hear it out loud if you're alone or you can use the earphone like Linda.
She arrives at the House of Harmon Beauty Shop in Pasadena every Monday for an 11:30 wash and set. While she's under the dryer, she
attaches her earphone plug to the GE 3-5524 on the floor beside her and listens to DOOL (Days of Our Lives). If she hadn't had her cassette with her this week, she would have
missed the biggie when Sister Marie (Lanna Saunders) said to Alex (Quinn Rederer):
"You're the one that has to be with Jessica right now."
"Why, because she looks to me as a father figure?"
"Because you are her father." And as the background music swelled up, Linda smiled knowing that Sister Marie is Jessica's real mother.
The advantage of these machines is that you can tape it yourself where ever you are. But if $100 is too steep for your budget, a regular inexpensive tape recorder ($25 at a discount store) will do. You can go to lunch at noon instead of waiting until your story is over at 1 p.m. Just set up your recorder with a 120 minute tape, place it next to the TV, and take off and enjoy yourself.
The use of this simple recorder has a couple of drawbacks. Unless you buy a patch cord (about $3) to attach the recorder directly to the TV, you'll get room noises. If you have a little brown dog, like mine, you'll get barking. You also have to be home to start the tape at the right time.
Before I bought my AM/FM/TV Radio Cassette, I had a friend tape the story for me the days I knew I'd miss it. My friend, Millie, who introduced me to taping soap operas, is a true addict. She plans her day so that she's working in her kitchen during the Soaps she watches from noon to 2 p.m. If the phone rings, she disguises her voice and says she isn't home. Or she pretends they have the wrong number and then leaves her phone off the hook. This is her "Sacred time," and God help the inexperienced News Director on the local ABC station if he decides a local mud slide is important enough to pre-empt one of Millie's favorites. She phones and writes livid letters, pointing out that only the use of station break time or a typed message across the screen is acceptable with her.
Millie started taping the Soaps several years ago when a good friend and avid viewer went away on a cruise.
"I tried to write it down every day for her, but that ruined the program for me. Then I subscribed to the TV Newsletter and that was good, but it was too general. They couldn't cover the day-by-day action. Finally I( hit on the idea of just taping the sound, since I couldn't offord a video recorder. I've been taping it ever since. Even when I watch it, I find that I miss parts of it. My Cockatoo screeches, or my son comes in for lunch, the phone rings. I really enjoy hearing the program again later."
I enjoy it, too. Listening instead of watching takes me back to my childhood when I sneaked peanut butter sandwches and potato chips up to my bedroom and religiously listened to "I Love a Mystery" on the radio.
Hearing the Soaps is easier because you already know what everyone looks like. An avid viewer will even know that if the ice is tinkling in a glass, the next voice you'll hear will be Kurt (Bill Ferriter). All My Children's latest alcoholic/wife beater or Devon (Tricia Pursley) adulteress/alcoholic. There are some "quiet times" o your audio tapes. After all, these shows are made for TV sets, not TV Radios. You may have to check with your Soap Addict Buddy for the details of explicit, quiet, love scenes, dream sequences, or a rare baby appearance.
"What did the baby get into, Devon's medicine?"
"No, no! It was the clorox bottle. But she just tipped it over. Myrtle (Eileen Herlie) got there in time before she drank any."
I was amzed at the POWER I felt when later in the day at my convenience, instead of the Network Program Director's, I could hear my story. I could hear it while I folded the laundry or did the dishes and if the phone rang I just "clicked" the tape off. When long winded Aunt Susie form Indiana was finally through talking, "click" and Cliff (Peter Bergman) and Nina (Taylor Miller) were right there with me again. I hadn't missed a word. I felt I was in CONTROL of my life for a change.
It's not that difficult to take your Radio/TV with you on special occasions, either. Recently I took my daughter to the annual Author's Tea held at the Huntington-Sheraton Hotel in Pasadena. We had reservations for luncheon in the Crystal Terrace Room overlookiing a large swimming pool and part of the fabulous gardens that surround this 1907 landmark.
The chic gray-haired hostess led us down three steps to a corner booth, which was perfect for my tote bag full of recorder. I placed it on the seat between us. My shy, 29 year old daughter turned her redhead away as if to ignore me, but no one noticed what I was doing. The machine was hidden in the tote bag and I hardly missed a bit of my fresh fruit plate when at a couple of minutes before noon I put the earphone in my ear, made sure I had the station tuned in correctly, and pressed the record and play buttons. This time I made sure the plug was all the way into the external speaker jack and listened with the earphone. It would have disturbed the 80 year old matron in the mink coat at the next table if Erica's (Susan Lucci) officious voice had blurted out loudly,
"Come on, cheer up...the reason I'm calling is to tell you I'm coming home for Thanksgiving. Aren't you happy? I'm going to spend time with you and Dr. Tyler and your home cooked dinner."
On our way home in the car, I enjoyed hearing Mona (Frances Heflin) give her the well-deserved shaft:
"I'm sorry, we're not going to be home Thanksgiving! We're going to be at a big wedding and reception, so I'm not cooking a turkey at all!"
Be careful when you're driving and operating your Radio/'Cassette at the same tijme. Don't try to fast-forward the commercials unless you're stopped at a red light. I almost rear-ended a blue van before I got the knack of it. At this writing there are no car radios with the TV band, but a radio repair man told me I could get an Audio-vox converter for my car radio that would give me both FM and TV bands, but no tape deck.
These portable radio cassettes with the TV band can really change your life style. My husband was shocked recently when I phoned, "Are you going ot lunch with anyone special today? I'm going to the bank near your Lab about noon. I'll take you to lunch if you want?" Since his lunch hour is locked into the 12-1 p.m. time period and that's my AMC time, I hadn't done such a thing in years.
Free yourself, take your Soap with you. Be proud to be a Soap viewer. Psychologists agree that it's healthy for us to watch them. Millions of people do. Admit it! tape it. You'll be happier, more relaxed and you can have you "Love in the Afternoon" way into the night.
by Ralph Cooper, 12-30-07
Last December I inteviewed you regarding an article I was doing for TV Guide about tape recording Soap operas.
Well, it didn't make it with TV Guide, but I did sell it....and I thought you and Lilly and your Technician, Ed, might like to read it. It will be in the August issue of:
Thanks again for your help. I didn't use any of your names, but of course needed your input to make it technically sound.
By the way, even the GE sent me a 3-5224, free. I still like my Cantrex/Pioneer RK 356 best. I gave the magazine a picture of your RK 560, but don't know what photos they'll use.
Early in her career, Jo began to use tape recorders for interviews and in this case to document a phone call. Luckily I found the tape she had used and copied it so it could be added to her website. If you are curious, you can listen to her by clicking on: