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- The Digital Age -
Since 1979, The Radio Reader has been distributed to public radio
stations via satellite.  However, the program continued to be
recorded on analog, reel-to-reel tape, which, in the 1990s, was
quickly becoming an obsolete format.   By mid-decade, the first
practical and affordable professional digital audio tape (DAT)
recorders became available and
The Radio Reader moved into the
digital age.

DAT recorders had many advantages (and disadvantages) over
analog tape.  As many as four programs could be recorded on one
small cassette with superior audio quality. However, the recorders
and tapes were prone to mechanical failure and introduced the
dreaded "digital mistracking" phenomenon, rendering a recording
unusable.   DATs were also virtually impossible to edit.  When DAT
worked it was wonderful, but when it didn't, it was awful!

Panasonic and Sony DAT recorders were used to record
The Radio
Reader
from 1998 to 2002.

The next step in the Digital Age for
The Radio Reader was a more
reliable alternative to DAT. Enter the digital mini-disc (MD) recorder
that used rewritable discs similar to compact discs. The audio quality
of the MD was not quite as good as DAT, but it was better than
analog tape and far less prone to failure than DATs.  Unfortunately,
like DATs, MDs were practically impossible to edit.
The SONY MDS-11
Professional mini-disc recorder
The Radio Reader was recorded on MD from about 2002 to 2005.
The PANASONIC SV-3700
Professional DAT recorder
Dick Estell
The Radio Reader
Public Radio's Reading Program
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