What did they do before the DUMP button?

Just wondering about this .

Was there like some sort of magical time warp device?

Or was there just not a need for a dump button back in the golden age of radio?

Maybe if someone cursed, they would just be fired right away?

I recently heard the four letter S word twice on a pre recorded interview that the producer didn't bother to preview before airing. Funny thing was no one dumped it. This was on a big gun AM station in the mid Atlantic region.

The host then came on afterwards and apologized. I wonder if they got fined.

#EDIT# Can someone move this to the forum section? I accidentally posted it in Blog.


RFB's picture

There are many things that were not needed in the good ol days unlike today. Cursing and swearing was considered inappropriate even for face to face communication. There were morals and principles people adhered to even to strangers.

Today, when you got flashing and couched riddles of dare no care in about everything media, it's necessary to have the dump button.

Basically lack of being responsible for one's own actions...and words. Just what do they teach in schools these days btw?


MRB's picture

It was done with tape delays. Take two identical recorders, place side by side 10' apart (assuming 15 ips tape speed. Record on one machine, but run the tape to the take up reel on the second deck, which plays the tape. This gives you about 7 seconds to catch the S word. We used to do this all the time on any call in show back in the '70's. You need closely matched machines, otherwise, you wind up with either tape on the floor or broken tape. The fix was to have the playback machine be variable speed. In the days before electronic goverened capstan motors, we would actually use an audio oscillator and ho power amp to make variable frequency AC power to run the motor on the playback deck. That allowed us to control the tension on the tape precisely. Back then the FCC was really strict, so we took no chances......

This was also done with 2" quad videotape on some live TV shows.

Carl Blare's picture

By golly I remember many stations in the 50s and 60s avoided call-in shows because of the risk of banned words.

A high school teacher of mine was one of the first to do a phone in show under the name "Roger Bell" on KXOK, St. Louis, 630kHz, 5kW. His show became popular, so 50kW KMOX hired him and started "At Your Service," a format that made talk radio very lucrative for the bottom line. The manager then claimed it was his idea to do call-in radio. But baseball announcer Jack Buck hosted some call in shows, and later, after the other two guys had died, told every body it was he who started the call-in format.

But it was "Roger Bell", real name Roy McCarthy.

There are a lot of good stories in radio about people taking credit for other people's ideas.

How did those early stations handle dump calls? Don't know. Except...... KXOK did have a 7-second delay, so I'll bet they were using the reel-to-reel 2-deck approach.

Carl Blare

MRB's picture

Ho Carl, Reel to reel was the only way to do it in those days. I know, and did it often in 1970 - 75. Later, some one made a cart machine variant (NAB Type A - similar to an 8 track tape cartridge, but the NAB cart format pre-dated the 8 Track) deck to do delays. By 1980 or so, "bucket brigade" shift register analog "memory" chip based delays came to market at a high cost.

BTW, there are lots of effects that were done with analog RTR tape. I'm sure you know this, but it might be interesting for the young uns. Flanging (phase cancelation like on Itchycoo Park - Small Faces circa 1966), echo, pre-echo, smear, variable time delay and a host of other effects were done with tape, often involving multiple multi-track decks, VFO power to capstan motors, simply grabbing the "flanges" of the supply reels, and a host of other work arounds.
Example: we would sometimes run the "supply deck" (recorder at 15 ips) and have the tape drop in a box and have the playback deck pull tape from the box at a lower variable speed to create effects that could not be done with digits at the time. Yoy mixed and sometimes phase reversed the resulting audio together to get something new. Now it's all pluging to audio processing software.

MRAM's picture

There was a device used by musicians called the EchoPlex from the '50s.

A box, about 10"x12"x6", with a 1/4" tape transport. It had one stationary erase/record head and one moveable playback head after the record head.

By sliding the playback head further from the record head you could increase the delay time. I don't remember how much delay, probably only a few seconds.

It had an endless loop tape that ran a minute or so which let you play a song and then play to the playback by switching to sound-on-sound mode. Or you could mix the playback with the live input for an echo.

Somewhere, someone probably used a variation of that device for a "dump" delay. Less problematic than using two separate decks.


Charter Member - Association of Low Power Broadcasters

Member Station - ALPB

ABMedia1's picture

about a year and a half ago, well let give a history lesson first; President Eisenhower was born in nearby Denison,which is about 10 minutes from me in Sherman, the city denison made a statue in honor of Eisenhower at Loy lake park on the Sherman Denison border. and about a year and a half ago; some teen gangs (a bunch of hoodilums) vandalised the statue of Eisenhower and put a swastika on it. boy when that happen Jason Taylor from local KMKT cussed out on the air and said and i quote "d--- them to h---" and Bob Allen from Local KJIM completely flipped out said and i quote "G-- D----T What is wrong with yall!" the crazy thing is they radio stations and the deejays didn't get fined for that fit nor did they bleep it out, and pretty much half of Grayson County said the same thing when they heard about it, it got better and couple guys from the city and the next media stations, KMKT KMAD KLAK helped out too. so it got better i was surprised they let them say that and didn't get in trouble

Andrew Bentley; Semi-Charter Member - Association of Low Power Broadcasters Magic 1680 AM-Sherman,Texas KDSX-LPAM, Proudly Serving West Central Grayson County Since October, 13 2007!

mighty1650's picture

KJIM Trivia:
Bob Allen owns KJIM.

Damn and hell are allowed to be said on the radio.

GD is taboo.

Carl Blare's picture

This won't help the discussion much, but I hear "crap" a lot on the radio. Isn't that the same thing as the "S" word?

Carl Blare

ABMedia1's picture

i knew the words damn and hell can be said on air, some stations bleep out GD idk if they can't say it or if they just bleep it out for nice courtesy for their listeners. what i said on air after i read the story, when i was talking about that, i said and i quote; "WTH is going on this world?!?" it was a big hard hit blow for the county,

and like i said, half of the people in grayson county and me personally and the Radio Jocks in Sherman/Denison pretty much said the same thing.

Andrew Bentley; Semi-Charter Member - Association of Low Power Broadcasters Magic 1680 AM-Sherman,Texas KDSX-LPAM, Proudly Serving West Central Grayson County Since October, 13 2007!

MICRO1700's picture

I don't want to say the "F" word, so we'll
just say "FORK," you know - the thing that's
opposite of a spoon.

So picture this. It's one of the Apollo missions.
The early 1970s.
I'm watching TV, absolutely glued to the set.

Things at NASA are quiet. They are waiting to
hear from the spacecraft. I've got the sound
on the TV way way up. At mission control,
there were probably open mikes all over the place.

No conversation. Just waiting waiting waiting.

Suddenly I hear somebody say (and remember,
we're using the word "FORK" here instead of
the other word,): (It was way way down in the
background, but I HEARD IT.)

So it was -

"OH FORK! I JUST FORGOT THE -" Then there was
a jumble of noise, and I didn't hear the end of
the sentence. But it was THE WORD. I have no
doubt to this day. THE WORD...

Then there was a pause of silence again.

Then I heard a guy say,


All of this was way down in the noise. Nobody
said a word. Nobody in mission control, nobody
on the TV network.

But it WAS THERE. I heard it.

(I must have developed really good listening skills
from AM BCB DXing so much at night.)

Bruce, DRS2


MRAM's picture

For a detailed expose regarding disallowed vocabulary visit YouTube and watch George Carlin's explanation about the Seven Words.


Charter Member - Association of Low Power Broadcasters

Member Station - ALPB

RFB's picture

"George Carlin's explanation about the Seven Words."

There are 3 others too!! :D

Probably far more these days!


radiomonkey's picture

Back in the early 80s, the daytime AM station I worked at did a lot of ethnic call in shows, and used an old Collins tube cart recorder for delay. It was specially fitted with a play head, an erase head, and a record head, in that order. The output of the console fed some relays. Normally the deck was bypassed, with the console output direct to the transmitter but when the operator pressed the DELAY button, the console output fed the cart deck input and the deck output went to the transmitter. This was delayed for whatever length the cart was wound for, usually 7.5 seconds. Another button, similar to today's DUMP button, although not called that, would interrupt the output of the deck for several seconds, thus preventing the profanity from reaching the transmitter.

Although this was homemade, most cart deck manufacturers had a special delay model available for this purpose.

The only drawback was if the cart jammed, you didn't know it since you had to listen to the console output, rather that your over the air signal, otherwise you would be hearing yourself 7.5 seconds later when speaking.

Carl Blare's picture

On some radio show I heard there was a funny bit which suggested that if something inappropriate was said at the studio, the engineer could stop it before it got to the tower.

Carl Blare