Tape Recording Introduced At Radio Éireann 1949


About this Item

Michael Lawlor a former news editor with Radio Éireann, describes the work of the newsroom in the 1950s and the impact the arrival of tape recording made.

  • Title
    Diary of 1953
  • 1st Broadcast
  • Contributor
    Kieran Sheedy (Presenter)
  • Material Type
  • Series title
    Vintage Radio
  • Clip title
    Tape Recording Introduced At Radio Éireann 1949
  • Extended description

    Tape recording was introduced in Radio Éireann at the end of 1949, allowing for re-use, longer recording and easier editing.

    In this extract from the series 'Vintage Radio' presenter Kieran Sheedy introuduces Michael Lawlor, a former news editor with Radio Éireann, who describes the work of the newsroom in the 1950s and the impact the arrival of tape made.

    Michael Lawlor also explains why it was often easier to get international news stories than stories from rural Ireland.

  • Information

    The introduction of tape recording heralded the end of an era for live broadcasting. For Christmas 1949, a 90-minute pantomime, 'Cinderella' with Jimmy O'Dea, was recorded with success.

    Acetate discs had limitations. They were complex to make, easily damaged, difficult to store and programmes had to be recorded in "one go". They also had a short playing duration.

    Broadcasting a long work like a symphony from discs would require constant changeovers during the course of a programme. There might be eight to ten four minute sides involved. This brought with it the constant risk of playing disks in the wrong sequence. Taping a programme eliminated this problem altogether.

    Radio Éireann gained several other advantages when tape recording was introduced. Firstly, the link between performance and studio transmission was broken. A performance could now be recorded at a manageable time for the artists. Far better use could be made of studio time all day. And, although costly, the tapes could be re-used and sound quality was excellent.

    For the first time, programme material could be manipulated by editing. Complex programmes of music sound effects and dialogue could be pre-recorded - or spliced together into the correct sequence. A complete radio tape might be a package comprising the opening announcement, signature tune, the programme itself , closing music and closing announcement. All this would be on the one tape.

    Programme timing was precisely known. As long as the tape started at the right moment, human error in presentation and programme overruns were virtually eliminated. This greatly improved the professionalism and presentation style of Radio Éireann in the 1950s.

    'Vintage Radio' was a series broadcast in 1983 where Kieran Sheedy introuduced a selection of well remembered and notable programmes from the past.

    The photograph accompanying this clip shows a Nagra reel to reel tape recorder.

    © RTÉ Stills Library 2270/071

    The photographer was Tom Holton.

  • Local keywords
    Kieran Sheedy, Michael Lawlor, RTÉ, Radio, Radio Éireann, Broadcasting, Technology, Tape, 1940s,
  • Geographical coverage
  • Topic
    The Media
  • Publisher Broadcaster
  • First broadcast channel
    RTÉ Radio One
  • Production year
  • Country of production
  • IPR restrictions
    Rights Reserved - Free Access
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  • Item type
  • Item sound
  • Language used
    English (eng)