Art Semmig, Joy Boys engineer
WRC engineer Art Semmig was one of the first Joy Boys engineers.
In this story we'll show you what life was like from his
side of the soundproof glass, and also a bit about
a recording engineer's career from the 1940s and '50s.
(Click any picture for a larger view.)
Click here (MP3 file, 138K) to hear Willard and Ed reminisce about Art's shape and his famous snoring! This sound clip is from our first Remember the Joy Boys CD project.
In 1944, the magazine Radio News (later Radio-TV News) ran an article describing the equipment used by the Library of Congress to preserve old recordings. In 1944, "preserve" meant "transfer from wax cylinder and cut a disc." Art Semmig was involved in this project and he appeared in the article. Below we see Art operating the necessary equipment: (left) playing a cylinder; (center) closeup of the dubbing table, with its control board, filters, and equalizers; (right) the complete recording setup which includes two Scully recording machines, two Presto 6N recording machines, RCA high-fidelity amplifiers, Presto recording amplifiers, Fairchild playback tables, and Hallicrafters S-31 and SX-28 receivers.
Now, imagine that same roomfull of equipment stuffed in a truck and taken on location for remote recordings. These two pictures are from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 23 1947, an article entitled "Singing Miners: They record their folk ballads for Library of Congress." The first picture was captioned At recording session in basement of public library at Pottsville, Pennsylvania, miner Bill Kating sings a folk ballad of the anthracite region. It was appropriately titled "Down, Down, Down." Seated at left is George Korson, supervisor of the Library of Congress recording project. Arthur Semmig, right, traveled through region in station wagon.
Russell David, mine superintendant, does a clog dance at a recording session in one of the mines. Fiddler at left is James Muldowney, mine carpenter. He made his violin. Korson and Semmig wear miners' clothing.
Recording on a disc was very much a one-shot deal, much like burning a CD-R is today. But of course there was much more room for a label! Here's an example of the labels you might see on a disc, just after it was recorded at NBC.
Thanks to Bob Semmig for the photos and background material used in this story, borrowed from his father's collection.
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