Tape cart in deck

Changing Technology

From "Carts" to Digital

May 22, 2018 - 2:00 am

When the all news format arrived in 1968, "state of the art" audio involved reel to reel tape decks and what were known as "carts":  an endless-loop tape cartridge (similar to an 8-track tape) that would be used to play sound on the air. News staffers would print out labels containing key information about the audio stored on the cart and apply those labels to the cartridge itself. In the early years, the labels were pounded out on manual typewriters. IBM Selectrics came next, followed by the dot-matrix printer that created these labels.

Tape cart
Tape cart

In 1968, information flowed into the newsroom via hulking (and noisy) teletype machines. Staff members remember massive amounts of paper being generated by those machines, which churned away day and night.

By the late 1970's, the teletype machines were being phased out as KCBS Radio became the first "electronic newsroom" in the world, adopting a new system that used a mainframe computer and a handful of workstations. By the turn of the century, that system had been replaced by today's client-server system that gives each workstation full access to all audio and text information.

The tape carts lasted into the early 2000's, finally phased out after KCBS Radio moved to its present Battery Street studios.