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Arts & Culture

Pressing Rewind On Cassettes

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In March, Lou Ottens died in Duizel in the Netherlands. He was 94. I don't think I had ever heard of Ottens before, but the news of his death quickly filled my social media feeds. Ottens, you see, invented the compact cassette in the 1960s.

There's a certain romance to the cassette tape, right? They're more fun than mp3s, for sure. And it turns out they're having a little mini resurgence right now.

Last year, cassette sales hit their highest mark since 2003. Some old, hard to find tapes sell for crazy prices. Blank tapes still sell well. There are cassette-only record labels. There are even podcast episodes out on tape.

This hour, a look at the long past and surprising present of the cassette tape.

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Colin McEnroe and Cat Pastor contributed to this show, which originally aired March 24, 2021.

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