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National Audio Company in Springfield sees sales rise for cassette tapes

Published: Mar. 12, 2021 at 4:38 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Earlier this week, it was announced that Lou Ottens, the inventor of cassette tapes, died at 94.

His invention impacted many people, but it also has deep roots here in Springfield.

“In 1963, I had never heard of the audio cassette, but I did hear about it in 1968 or 69. My father and I started this company in 1968 to supply recording media to radio and television stations,” said National Audio Company President Steve Stepp.

Fast forward to 2021, that same company with only 30 employees would produce 95% of cassette tapes in the western hemisphere.

“Now it has come full circle to the point that all the major-record labels have all gone back to cassette and vinyl. They still do CDs, but that is rapidly declining. Last year, for the very first time since the introduction of the audio CD, cassettes outsold music CDs in the commercial market,” said Stepp.

National Audio Company has recently seen a comeback in the cassette tape business. Major production companies and artists are using this small local business to deliver product to their audience.

“Now we’re doing all the work for Disney and Sony and RCA and Capitol. We have most of the equipment they had in their hay days here in this building,” said Stepp.

The manufacturing equipment is over 50 years old and is repaired in-house. As the National Audio Company continues to see sales rise, a new generation will be able to enjoy music on these classic cassettes.

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