Cassette comeback: Manufacturer expands to meet worldwide demand

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -- When it comes to music, it sounds like things are on "fast forward" at National Audio Company in Springfield, Missouri.

"This revival in audio cassettes is a worldwide phenomenon," explained Steve Stepp, owner of National Audio.

Just like vinyl records, cassette tapes are making a comeback. Everyone from Sony to Disney is releasing tunes on tape.

"We did Guardians of the Galaxy One and Two for Disney. Most recently, we did the soundtrack for the Star Wars: The Force Awakens," Stepp said.

Over the years, National Audio found a way to survive. Stepp jokes the key was stubbornness and stupidity. The perseverance has paid off. It's now one of the last and largest cassette producers remaining in the world.

"We probably manufacture 95 percent of the cassettes that are produced in the western hemisphere," he said.

All the equipment used in the factory hails from the 1950s and 1960s. The "newer" stuff is from the 70s. Employees keep it running and looking like new. They have to; the manufacturers of this machinery are long gone.

"A lot has changed, but a lot hasn't," Stepp chuckled.

To keep up the growing demand, National Audio is expanding. A new production floor has been under construction in recent months and is set to be in operation by the holidays.

"We hauled in 55 tons of used tape manufacturing equipment," Stepp said.

He said most of that came from competitors that gave up long ago.

The glory days of the tape industry may be a thing of the past. But, there is plenty of business from around the world to keep National Audio busy.

"It is exciting to come to work here every day," Stepp said. "There is always something going on; something new happens every day."

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