- The Early Years -
The AMPEX Model 601
Manufactured from the late1950s to the early 1960s
The Radio Reader was first recorded on the Ampex 601.  This recorder,
highly prized by collectors and audiophiles for its superior tube electronics,
was used until the early 1980s.  Each episode of the program was recorded
on a 7" reel of tape.

The 601 was replaced by the Ampex ATR-700 (not a "real" Ampex - it was
made in Japan by Tascam with the Ampex nameplate.)
Manufactured in the late 1970s
For a short period of time the program was even recorded on cassette using a
Nakamichi recorder.

The Radio Reader was originally distributed to stations in Michigan on tape.  
A package of five reels was mailed to about 10 stations each week.  That's 50
reels.  High speed duplicators were used to produce the tape copies.  Stations
would mail the used tapes back to WKAR every week and the process was

As the number stations broadcasting
The Radio Reader increased, the
number of tapes that had to be produced and mailed each week grew into the
hundreds. This "bicycling" of programs was not very efficient, but was the only
method of program distribution available until 1979, when public radio stations
were connected by satellite.
Sam Belsito, WKAR studio technician, with Ampex high speed reel-to-reel
duplicators in the 1960s
Dick Estell
The Radio Reader
Public Radio's Reading Program
Photo: WKAR Archives
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