by Rachel Newstead
When I was fourteen and school had ceased for the summer, I’d escape the heat of those blistering southern Arizona days by sitting in the comfort of my parents’ air-conditioned living room…and recording television programs. But not quite in the way you’re probably thinking.
Home video recording in 1976 wasn’t exactly within the price range of the average consumer, so kids like me, if they wanted to do the unheard of and save a favorite program for later, were limited to recording the audio.
So I’d bring out my brand-new Admiral audiocassette recorder, plop myself in front of the set, and hold the microphone to the speaker until my arm went numb. I’d record any program that interested me, from sitcoms to documentaries to cartoons. It didn’t matter so much that I wouldn’t be able to see what took place on-screen–in a sense, listening to these homemade tapes was a bit like listening to a good radio show. Which, as anyone who reads this blog should know by now, is something I grew to appreciate very early.
One day while searching the channels for something new to record, I came across something I’d never seen before, yet which looked strangely familiar. It carried the stamp of one “Ponsonby Britt”, the unmistakable sign that the lunatics at the Jay Ward asylum were on the loose again. But despite the animated opening titles, this was not a cartoon.