LISTENERS are able to hear the local news in digital after Harrow Talking Newspapers dumped its outdated analogue audio cassette technology.
The 100 or so subscribers to the free service – which allows them to hear Harrow Observer’s stories read aloud – have been issued with new portable playing devices into which they will plug a memory stick that arrives in the post and contains the highlights of that week’s edition.
Barbara Turner, chairwoman of the trustees of the charity, said: “Our first digital recording was three weeks ago. People say the sound quality has improved.
“The studio is now equipped with digital equipment. We had a legacy left to us in a will and it covered the cost.
“It’s quicker and easier to produce shows and copying is so much quicker. The trouble with cassettes was you made a master copy and that was placed in a copying machine that read it at 10 times quicker than playing speed and cassettes broke or the ribbon ended up round the spool so there were often little breakdowns.
“We were also restricted to 30 minutes a side on cassette and now we have more flexibility, although I don’t think we will change the format.”
Each Thursday, an editor, two readers and a recordist record the majority of articles featured in the Observer onto computer in the charity’s studio at Unit One, Central Depot, Forward Drive, Wealdstone, and the finished hour-long show is copied onto the erasable memory sticks that are sent out the next morning to subscribers.
The technological overhaul was celebrated at Harrow Talking Newspaper’s annual general meeting on Tuesday last week at the studio, which was attended by Alderman Keith Toms representing the Mayor of Harrow.
Members marked the deaths of Frank Wright, who had been a presenter, fundraiser and treasurer for 21 years, and Francis Scott, who designed and set up the new digital studio and will have it named in his memory.