A tape op
(short for tape operator
is the lowest rung of employment in most large professional recording studio
Despite the name a tape op would have very little involvement with recording tape even back in the days when recordings were made on tape machines rather than onto hard disk recorders.
In fact the term 'tape op' is pretty much synonymous with tea boy - jobs performed by the tape op would generally include making the tea, going to the takeaway to pick up food for the band, and where appropriate rolling joints.
Those who manage to stick out these menial jobs for a year or so will learn enough about audio engineering that they may slowly work their way up to assistant engineer, engineer or even producer, although very few make it this far. The job is becoming less prevalent as people enter the industry from audio engineering college courses, or become producers after starting as musicians. See roadie.