Archiving – Thinking Beyond the Shoebox!

Archiving Thinking Beyond the Shoebox - ATC Blog

In our inimitable fashion here at ATC ( we’re constantly reading through all those emails we’re receiving from different listservs about any number of things.  The latest one that caught our eyes was about how rapidly technology is changing, and it got us thinking on many levels.  WWOCD?  What Would Our Clients Do?  The article in the latest issue of is written by Lamont Wood, “Fending off the digital dark ages: The archival storage issue.” So this is where transcription of those audio/video collections is key to the longevity of your archives. 

When was the last time you tried to play a 33 rpm record?  When did you find an old floppy disk with information that you couldn’t access?  How about that interview of Aunt Lucy and Uncle Joe in the shoebox that was recorded in 1972 on any sort of media that is now outdated?  Point being, anything you record today will be outdated in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years.  Do you have a plan?  Does your customer have a plan?  We don’t have a plan either, but hey, we got you thinking about it. 

As far as I know no company is currently transcribing on sheepskin, but most everyone who receives their transcripts is storing them digitally.  These digital transcripts are now searchable documents, and then they are usually printed and stored for archival purposes as needed. 

The question again is, how often is digital media changing? 

Plainly, your audio archives will someday be obsolete, and you’ll have to look at ways to convert these collections to a new functional usable format. (How many of you are already doing this every 5, 10, 15 years or so?)  These transcripts of the media content provide the essence of what researchers need!

What will you do to make sure this scenario doesn’t happen to you or your client?  Or will you be retired by that point, and leave the “legacy” to someone else?

The Story of “Farakaveh”

The Story of “Farakaveh” - ATC Blog

Excuse me, which way is “Farakaveh”?

Not too long ago, a member of our production team was reviewing a transcript of an oral history interview before sending the completed work back to the client.

While the work was top-notch as usual, there was one word that just didn’t sit quite right with our eagle-eyed (or nitpicky, however you want to phrase it) production-er and he couldn’t bring himself to press “send.”

Instead, he took a few minutes to listen and re-listen to that little blip of audio but kept hearing the same thing the transcriber had: “Farakaveh.”

Eh, good enough… 

While putting the word in brackets with a question mark to indicate it as a guess and sending off the transcript might have been the next acceptable step, he just couldn’t let it go.

So he brought in some outside expertise, someone with a background that might help decipher the accent of the interviewee — a Jewish, rather Russian and very New Yawk elderly woman.  In this case, that “outside expert” happened to be ATC founder and president, Sandy Poritzky.

Bringing in the “Big Kahuna”

While we couldn’t quite get our top exec to sit down and listen to the audio on a pair of headphones (though we admit it is fun to picture that scenario in our minds), we did the next best thing by putting the printed transcript on his desk.  One quick read and Sandy recognized “Farakaveh” pretty much immediately.  It’s a little neighborhood in Queens, NY.  Probably better known as “Far Rockaway.”

The moral of the story?  

Well, it could be that we go the extra mile (yay!).  Or, it could be that we employ fiendishly detail-oriented and extremely cautious people (they’re our heart and soul!).  Or, it could be that sometimes the big boss actually does have all the answers (shudder).  Mostly, we like to think it illustrates another point: Transcription isn’t always just what you *think* you hear.


We’re not your mother’s transcription service

We’re not your mother’s transcription service - ATC Blog
As we talked about earlier this month, the cassette tapes and reels are just about gone.  Typewriters, of course, have all but completely disappeared (although we do keep one in the backroom just in case of all-out digital failure/crash, call us prepared/paranoid).  And don’t even get Sandy, our very old president, started about the ol’ cylinder Dictaphones



But it’s not just the difference in technology that separates the Audio Transcription Center from the transcription services of yore (mother’s days).  It’s our attitude towards the business and our firm belief that we are only as good as the people we employ.

We strive to be more than just an office where an army of anonymous typists sit and click out transcripts day after day in stuffy cubicles.

Sure, we have a large staff (100 plus!) who all can type a minimum of 75 WPM, and who seem to work tirelessly at our 15 workstations, 24/7/365.  And, okay, there might be some cubicle-esque work areas here… but that’s where the similarities end.


But what we continually take pride in is that all of our staff members have so much more to offer than just speed, accuracy, and efficiency.  They’re brainiacs, to be honest.  At any given time, we employ some of the best and brightest transcriptionists with degrees ranging from BAs, to JD, to PhDs.  To use a classic Sandy-ism, “Since when do Boston’s PhDs have to give up eating?”

Not only do our transcriptionists come to us well-educated (and usually hungry), they also come from a myriad of social and ethnic backgrounds with knowledge sets ranging from science and tech, to popular culture, to art history, to finance, to law, and more.

Working with this large and diverse pool of knowledge and talent allows us to custom match transcription projects to just the right person (or people) for the job.

Add that all together with our ability to handle pretty much any audio file, our streamlined work flow and digital workstations, and that’s what gives us the confidence to offer:

  • Incredibly fast (like blazing) project turnaround
  • 100% Quality Guarantee (or your money back)
  •  Rush service at no extra charge (ever!)


Well, when it comes to transcription at least. And we certainly think we’d all look pretty sharp in capes…

New Name. New Website. TTC is now ATC.

TTC is now ATC - ATC Blog
The times they have a-changed…

And so have our clients’ needs…

And so have we…

The Tape Transcription Center is now…

here it comes…



For over 40 (32 of which have been in this lovely building across from Boston Common) years we’ve done business under the Tape Transcription banner, a name that aptly described what was once our basic service.  But the fact is, in 2010, with the world almost completely digitally revolutionized, we now work with audio (and even video!) formats no one had even dreamed of back when Sandy Poritzky set up shop in 1966.

Tapes?  What the hell happened to tapes?

MP3?  WAV?  DSS?  AVI?  As technology has evolved and grown exponentially over the last decade, so have audio formats, the way we receive and transcribe them, and how we return completed work back to our clients.

Just five years ago, roughly 80% of our work came in on analog tapes.  Flash forward to the present, and we have nearly 96% of the audio we transcribe coming to us in digital formats, most of it uploaded to us directly.  No postage fees, no waiting for delivery to start a job, no chance of loss or damage during shipment.  In turn, our already supernatural ability to meet or beat tight turnaround times has been upped by a full 40%.

But still, sometimes we almost kind of miss the holiday-like excitement of opening all of those big, clunky packages stuffed with reels or cassettes.  Almost. In fact, Sandy still buys lunch for the office to commemorate the anniversary of the day we received over 400 oral history cassettes in one delivery.

Audio instead of Tapes.  Got it.  

But how will I find you on the vast World Wide Web?

So glad you asked!  In conjunction with the change to a new name, we are excited to announce the launch of our snazzily revamped website at a brand new URL:
But what about all the good stuff TTC always offered?

Sure, our name has changed, but the way we approach our business hasn’t.
  • Our stock and trade is still the largest team of highly educated, culturally diverse and intellectually curious transcriptionists of any service, anywhere.
  • We still specialize in beating unreasonable deadlines.
  • We still never charge extra for rush jobs.
  • And of course, we still transcribe from tapes.

What hasn’t changed is probably best summed up by this email Patrick received from a client just last week:

“Thank you for being so great and accommodating.  We refer people to you all the time, particularly since you’ve been so good about dealing with our craziness.”

  • We still thrive on craziness.