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Oscar Treadwell: Hot Tapes Help Cool Jazz Live On


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If it weren't for Bruce Ellis' half-baked idea, legendary jazz DJ Oscar Treadwell's radio show wouldn't be heard on WVXU-FM (91.7) two years after his death.

Ellis, Cincinnati Public Radio production director, has saved the audio from Treadwell's crumbling 1970s and '80s reel-to-reel tape recordings by baking them in his Fort Thomas oven.

“When audiotape gets old, the oxide coating - which holds the recording - literally shreds off the tape," says Ellis, 52, at WGUC-FM for 26 years.

“I read somewhere that you can save old tapes by baking them. So I took some home, set my oven on the lowest possible setting, and baked them for one hour each side. By golly, the oxide rebonded, letting me play them once or twice, and record them onto a CD," he says.

Ellis has preserved 60 two-hour classic shows from old reel-to-reel tapes - so Treadwell's musical insights and poetry could remain on WVXU-FM 9-11 p.m. Sundays.

The station will raise money to preserve OT's old shows - and for jazz studies - with a second annual Treadwell tribute concert 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Corbett Auditorium.

Treadwell's four children donated all of his old tapes to Cincinnati Public Radio shortly after he died April 1, 2006, at age 79. At the time, the station had only 35 shows that Treadwell recorded after Cincinnati Public Radio bought WVXU-FM from Xavier University seven months earlier.

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