Once upon a time, I used to listen to a lot of Malay songs. Stuff like Iklim, Wings, Ella, Sheila Majid and so on. Unfortunately, not having money to buy any additional cassettes at the time (most of my money went into buying Chinese and English ones instead. Oh, and CDs were out of the question then), the only place I could listen to them were on FM radio. So, if I wanted to listen to the songs more often, I'd have to record them on cassette.
What I would do was this - I bought empty cassettes, and when the radio program aired, I would wait by it, making sure I had a good reception, and press the 'Record' button when the song came on.
It involved a bit of work though - everyday I would go through the papers for the section which listed the radio programs. Back then, the radio listings even had song lists of songs that listeners had requested and which would be played on that day. The usual programs I looked out for were the Radio Muzik request programs at night for Malay songs, and American Top 40 (hosted by Casey Kasem then) for English songs. Oh, and the weekend 'Jade Music Charts' on the RTM Chinese station as well (last time belum ada Hitz, Mix, My, 988, Fly, yada yada yada....).
(Update: Crash Athenos pointed out that it might have been Shadoe Stevens, not Casey Kasem who hosted American Top 40. And come to think of it, I think it WAS Shadoe Stevens who did the radio show, while Casey Kasem did the TV one. I can't remember. gah).
I also had to press the 'Record' button at the correct moment to minimise the chattering by the DJ, and to make sure I didn't cut off the intro of the song.
I made quite a few of my own compilation cassettes that way. I got so good that I could tell when exactly the DJ would stop talking and press the button at the exact same moment the song started (it ws easiest to guess with Casey Kasem. Malaysian DJs suck).
Still, some of those compilation cassettes I had still had bits of the DJs talking at the end and beginning of the song. That couldn't be helped, and after I'd listened to the tape a lot, I tended to get so used to the talking bits that even when I was listening to the proper album version of the song, I'd half-expect the DJ to come on at specific parts of the song.
I also got VEEEERY irritated at DJs who cut in halfway through a song. Mess up my songs only. Bah. It's even worse when you've been waiting for the song for an hour or so, and then the bloody DJ cuts it off halfway through the song. Gah.
If the reception was bad, then I'd have the song, but also with a lot of static, which was pretty annoying (and which also explains why I'm so very the particular about the sound quality of my mp3s these days .
Of course, these days, the wonder of mp3 technology now allows me to mix my own CDs to listening in the car, without having to resort to fiddling around with cassette decks and making sure I press records buttons simultaneously for 'best sound quality'.
And with my iPod, it's even better. I've had my iPod shuffle for almost a year now, and I seriously can't imagine what I'd do without it.
But last night, when I was reloading my iPod with new songs, I kept thinking back to all those cassettes I used to make, and all those hours spent by the radio waiting for that ONE particular song to come on, and pressing the record button when it did, playing it back after the song only to find that the reception during the song was completely screwed.
In some ways, the ease in which I can make CDs and iPod playlists now just does not have the same satisfaction as all those compilation cassettes I made from radio recordings, and the satisfaction of FINALLY getting a clear version of the song I'd been attempting to record for weeks.
Damn, now I feel old. Gah. Where's my iPod?