As a “Labor of Love” Lori Martins has Art Baltz’s wire recordings from the 1950’s transferred to compact discs

From wire to CD

Marian Schutte, Lori Martins and Joann Martins pose with Art Baltz’s wire recorder and several of his recordings. Lori has recently had the wires transferred to CD’s.

The CD pictured above is one of Christmas Organ Music being played by Marian Schutte. Lori chose this young picture of Art to be displayed on the CD’s as it represents the age Art would have been while making the recordings.

Art Baltz, who was a technological master-mind way before his time, recorded music, church services and much more long before there were modern day recording devices. Yes, even before reel-to-reel magnetic recorders, Art recorded music in the 1950’s on a wire recorder using wire thinner than fish line. Most accurately, the wire’s thickness could be likened to a human hair. The wire reels, which were each filled with at least a mile and half of wire, were recorded using a machine appropriately called a wire recorder which weighed over 30 pounds. Baltz, who owned two such recorders, used them during church services and at dance venues.

The wire recorders that Art used were made by the Webster-Chicago Company. He had the model 80 and a portable model. The 80 retailed for about $149 in the 1940’s. He also had a model 178 that was more of a desktop model that did not come with a carrying case. It probably retailed for about $99.

Although Baltz passed away in 1986, his recordings have been preserved and transferred to compact discs (CD’s) through a “labor of love” initiated by his granddaughter, Lori Martins.

Lori, who is the daughter of Joann Martins and the late Bernie Martins, said, “My idea to get the recordings updated started with hearing Grandpa’s voice in my dreams all these years. That got me thinking that I had the actual ability to hear his voice as well as those of others if I could only update the wires.”

With most of the recordings being from the 1950’s, the 27 wire recordings include many big bands who played at Lakeside Ballroom including, to name a few, Six Fat Dutchmen, Ray Pearl, Sam Garbor, Sammy Kaye, Lawrence Welk and Leo Pieper.

As Lori completes the transfer of her grandfather’s wire recorders, she is more than willing to share her findings with individuals and groups who have an interest in the history of early recording devices, the Big Band Era and, of course, the history of St. Paul Lutheran Church. She may be reached by email at

Read the full article in the July 25 edition of the Postville Herald.