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Bob Davy of Ashland will transfer your taped recordings to CD. For free. Jim Craven - Jim Craven

Recording Artist

Remember all those cassette tapes you used to treasure?

Maybe you'd like to digitize them so you could listen to them on your computer or in your car's CD player, but the whole process seems like way too much work, right?

Enter Bob Davy, who has his own digital recording studio in his condo at Mountain Meadows, one of Ashland's retirement communities. Davy says he'll "dub" any audio tape, whether it's cassette or even reel-to-reel, onto a CD and affix a label with words and images of your choice.

For free. He won't even charge you for the CD.

Davy just finished digitizing more than 2,000 hours of tape from Jefferson Public Radio. When JPR computers went on the fritz recently, executive director Ron Kramer grabbed one of the CDs, a "Sunday Supplement" show by Tom Shelton, a JPR program director in the 1970s — and the show went on.

"I was delighted when Bob said he'd do it," Kramer says. "It was too large a project for the staff. It preserves not only JPR's history, but the history of the region, much like the morgue (clipping library) of a newspaper."

The 86-year-old Davy, an Emmy award-winning director and producer for 30 years in public television, says he does it because it's fun.

It also rescues valuable material from "fading" on audio tape and, he jokes, "It keeps me off the streets and out of trouble."

Davy earned degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Wisconsin. He worked at KPIX-TV in San Francisco and the Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting, and taught speech and radio courses at the University of Oregon. He also did a 15-year stint as arts reporter for JPR.

These days, his tiny recording studio is crammed with decks, consoles, computers and wires — and a humble little cassette player that plugs into it all, sending the signal to his mixing board, amplifier and computer, which obediently transfers it to CD.

Davy searches the Web to find appropriate pictures to download to his label-making program. He prints them on sticky label paper, peels them off and presses them onto the CD for the happy customer.

"It's just so damn much fun. That's why I do it — fun," says Davy, a widower for eight years, as he pets his cat, Rusty.

The historical value of the new digital JPR collection becomes apparent while looking at the log of shows.

An old show from the 1970s and '80s, "900 Seconds," includes interviews with many prominent people in the region, including former Southern Oregon University President James Sours, then-sheriff C.W. Smith, storyteller Tom Doty and artist Judy Howard.

"About Women," from 25 years ago, includes interviews with Shiela Drescher of Bloomsbury Books, activist Dot Fisher-Smith on conflict resolution, playwright-psychologist Dory Appel and Sylvia Goodman on human potential.

There's even an interview with Tom McCall, Oregon's legendary governor from 1967 to 1975, now preserved on CD.

The collection reflects the eclectic nature of Southern Oregon's public radio station, which just celebrated its 40th birthday.

There's everything from daily news programs and Frank Lang's popular "Nature Notes" series to chamber music performances and Ashland City Band concerts.

Fifty-four "Chautauqua" programs from 25 years ago include local personalities such as Shirley Patton on "The Diary of Anne Frank," Hilary Tate on Tennessee Williams and Barry Kraft on the poetry of James Merrill.

Davy is now preserving the books recorded on cassette in the Ashland High School library.

"It's so important to keep busy and productive in retirement," he says. "The trick is finding the right place for the talents you have."

Bob Davy can be reached at 552-1277 or e-mail rldavy@aol.com.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

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