Sunday, September 29, 2013

How did the programming get to us?

Donald  Browne explains how the programming got to us.  This was originally posted on another site but it's here with his consent:

I was employed by, or associated with, AFRTS from 1969 to 2001.

AFRTS programming was produced on 12-Inch 33 1/3 RPM LPs until the late 1980s, when programs were shifted to audio cassettes. Singles and selected album cuts remained on LP until the early 1990s when they were shifted to CDs.

Ordinary military personnel, and even AFVN people frequently requested air checks from their hometown Top 40 radio stations. They received 30-45 minute unscoped air checks on 7-Inch audio tape at 7 1/2 IPS. ..

It took nine weeks between providing the program master to K-Disc and the AFRTS stations on shipboard and land stations RECEIVING the weekly box of about 40 vinyl discs.

The total time-line included pressing the vinyl at K-Disc (one week), receiving the finished discs back at AFRTS-LA for quality control review (one week), repacking the discs in the appropriate shipping box for the correct "airing week" (one week), and then mailing the Weekly Box by Fourth Class Mail (two weeks), then transit by ship to the "port-of-call" for the Navy ship intended (two weeks), or to the foreign APO or FPO, if a land station (three weeks). Transit by ship was about 10 days to 'Nam, after the ship departed its US west coast "home port" (one week).

Once received by the foreign AFRTS land station or network, the box was held "on-the-floor" for at least two weeks.
Then the box was opened, cursorily reviewed for quality or damage, and then aired as a weekly package, called a Radio Unit (RU).
Therefore, it took a minimum of eleven weeks between recording the programs with the "hit songs" included and the actual "hit songs" being aired.

It was common to have the follow-up hit song aired by "local" competition, before the original "hit song" was aired on the AFRTS station.

BTW the two weeks "on-the-floor" was protection against lost or misplaced weekly packages in transit.