Is it possible for you to listen to the actual Katz Tapes? Yes.
But not yet.
Let me explain.
From the very start of my journalistic career I tried to tape record every interview I did. I largely succeeded, though a handful of times I was foiled by circumstances, either faulty equipment or human error. Tape recording isn’t foolproof, but I learned to be paranoid and keep checking that my equipment was working properly. That equipment was extremely basic: an inexpensive Sony tape recorder (cost: about $40) and whatever name brand, standard-sized cassette tape I found on sale. It wasn’t a sophisticated set up, but it worked. I never switched to mini-cassettes or, later on, to digital. (I even used cassettes to record interviews during my two-year stint as an arts commentator for WFNX-FM, back in the station’s early years, around 1989-91 or so. Eventually I was told that the audio quality was subpar and the station loaned me an expensive, bulky Nagra tape recorder to bring to in-person interviews. Great sound quality, but a pain to lug around. When ‘FNX and I parted ways I was happy to go back to my little Sony.)
Not only did I tape every interview I did, I held on to the tapes. I had no particular plan in mind for them, but I believed that someday someone might want to hear the voice of Bob Marley or Roy Orbison or Tammy Wynette or Curtis Mayfield or any of the hundreds of other musicians I talked to over the years. I wish I could say I kept these tapes in climate-controlled storage, but I didn’t. Not even close. I stashed them in drawers and boxes, where they’ve sat for ten, twenty or thirty years. Maybe some of them have deteriorated. I sure hope not. But if so, I hear there are ways to restore old tapes. In any case my guess is that these tapes are in decent condition and are waiting to be heard.
What should I do with these tapes? I don’t know. I am open to suggestions.
I would love to make them available to scholars, researchers and fans. Perhaps there is a university or institution that is interested in putting them in some sort of archive and transferring them to digital.
And it has been suggested that I make them available on this web site. Great idea, but it’s a big project. Maybe some day.