Once, my boss sent me to make an interview to a scientist who had done some research in a very complicated and highly specific area of the bio chemistry for his PhD. The headline of his thesis was completely incomprehensible. The whole thing certainly might be interesting for the scientist community but very difficult to explain for the general public. But the scientist, a young man, was the nephew of a good friend of my boss, so his study had to become news in my newspaper no matter what.
When I asked him for an interview, he was surprised. He couldn’t understand why a journalist of a local newspaper could have any interest in his work. I asked him to explain me what was he doing in his lab as if I were (as I actually was) a completely ignorant about the matter.
I put my recorder in front of him and began to ask questions and take notes. He started to tell me about technical terms incomprehensible for me. He didn’t know what “say it in plain English” meant. There was no way to make him touch ground. I tried my best, but, when I went back to the newsroom I only had some chaotic notes and a tape (it was before the digital era) with 45 minutes of a recorded conversation in which I had placed all my hopes.
I rewinded the tape, I pressed the play button of my tape recorder to listen to the interview and mysteriously, all the conversation sounded backwards. Yes. Our voices were there talking, but it was like we were swallowing each word. It was impossible to understand a single one of them.
In all my life as a reporter never had happened to me something like that. I’ve never had found an explanation to such a strange behavior of the tape. It never happened before, never after. I asked technicians an other journalists, and nobody could give me an explanation. Of course, without the recording I couldn’t write the interview.
In the picture, me and my tape recorder in another interview different that the one described in this post.