Sunday, August 31, 2014

Billy Pearl - 1975

Roger Carroll's company did the recruiting shows that you may have heard Sunday mornings, with Gene Price, Roland Bynum, Wolfman Jack, RC and Billy Pearl.

Billy was never a vet of Ft McCadden but was doing some wonderful work on KHJ.  Later to KFMB, , KRLA, KIQQ, KMPC and KABC.  Currently Billy is a lawyer in Long Beach.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Chris Noel - 1970

The Memorial Day weekend is here.  Let's go back to a Friday in 1970 and celebrate with Chris Noel and A "Date With Chris"

Chris is on Facebook Click here

Please consider sending a few bucks to our less fortunate brothers through Chris's veterans shelter "Vetsville" More information

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

AFKN Reunion - 2014

Brian Hartzell has made it happen.  October 9-11, 2014 at the Paris Resort and Casino in Las Vegas there will be a reunion.  There's more information here:

When were those used?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Adrian Cronauer

Here's some video of Adrian Cronauer talking about Good Morning Vietnam.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Top Pops

I miss grabbing an armful of these and rocking a storm....

Chris Noel - 1969

Chris Noel is back with another hour of 1969 memories on "A Date With Chris"

Harry Von Zell - 1944

Harry Von Zell was one of giants of radio announcing.  In the 1920s he was the announcer for Paul Whiteman.  By 1930 a CBS staff announcer.  Harry Von Zell biography in Wikipedia

Today Harry jives up a storm in Sound Off!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Meet the Press - 1961

Edward R. Murrow was the journalists journalist.  Eventually Mr. Murrow was a vice president of the CBS.  In 1961 he was the director of the US Information Agency for the Voice Of America, and presented America to the rest of the world.

AFRTS presented the big news interview shows.  This is from a 1961 "Meet The Press"

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Jill's All-Time Jukebox 1945

While Martha Wilkinson was doing the GI Jive she also did an oldies show.

AFRTS Torrejon December 1981

Here's more memories from our friend Vicente in Spain.  Way back when he recorded a lot of the Torrejon Air Base station.  I'm grateful he's shared them. We ran many of the same shows worldwide.  On this is Wolfman Jack, Casey, Bob Kingsley, Robert W Morgan with the Special of the Week, morning show and more.  

Torrejon AB

Friday, August 15, 2014

Chris Noel - 1971

It's Friday and you have a Date With Chris.  As the years went by, Chris being responsive to the troops played more and more rocking music.  Such a talent.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bob Casey AFVN 1968-69

Robert J. (Bob) Casey of Dover NY passed away October 18, 2016 in Newburgh at the age of 73. 
An Audio-Video entrepreneur, Mr. Casey learned his craft as a teen, being the first to use a two turntable DJ station in dances in the Yonkers NY area.  His DJ station now resides at the Smithsonian Institution. 
His Army service was as that of production manager for the Armed Forces Vietnam Network in Saigon in the 1960s working closely with the U.S.O.  His Armed Forces broadcast from Times Square, New Year’s Eve, 1969 is reported to be the first worldwide broadcast, simulcast on Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America.

I was just talking with Bob Casey, Bob had quite a story.

My dad was a pioneer in commercial sound systems in New York.  I wanted to do something like that.  However, when I was 13 I saw Dick Clark and noticed how he could reach out to people.  It was special and that's what I wanted to do.

I was kicked out of several high schools and at 17 I joined the Army.  Because I knew sound systems and electronics I was in the Signal Corps.  It was 1962, and they sent me to Korea.  I heard a lot of AFKN and it made an impression on me. The one network tag that had a decisive effect on my future; "The preceding has been brought through the worldwide facilities of the United States Armed Forces Radio and Television Service". I then spent 18 months at Ft Bliss, did my time then got out of the army and tried to make a go of it.

From Korea I knew AFRTS tried to bring a sense of home to soldiers.  In 1965 I put together a program called; “New York Calling”.  The premise was I would call DJs across the land and ask about the music and what was happening in their town. Cousin Bruce Morrow of WABC in New York, Charlie Tuna at KOMA in Oklahoma City , Dick Biondi of KRLA in LA, and the like.

AFRTS in New York loved it but they didn't have a budget to produce entertainment shows.  The American Legion made a generous commitment and it looked like all systems were go. Colonel Ed Kirby showed me around the Pentagon, including the studios of The Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and of course AFRTS.

After a few weeks of pre-production, I received a call from AFRTS: “Sorry to have to tell you this but they changed the rules.  All entertainment shows must now be from Los Angeles. ”

AFRTS still sounded like something I wanted to do.  The army ended up with their newest recruit.  I ended up in Germany, back in the Signal Corps and not assigned to AFN.  I interviewed soldiers and blustered my way to a 30 day TDY at AFN Kaiserslautern.  They liked my work and a reassignment was possible… until NATO was kicked out of France.  The AFN Network in Germany has to assimilate everyone from the France stations and there just wasn't any room for Bob.

This was bad, Frank Capra movie bad.  I’m halfway around the world with a job I don't like, years to go and winning was snatched away.  It was a snowy day, I just walked off post, and walked and walked.  Didn’t have my pass.  Didn't care. I sat on a railroad track. It was snowing very hard. Then a dog, a German Sheppard came over to me.  Someone was talking. but I ignored him. “Soldier, I'm talking to you!”  It was the chaplain.  He helped me get assigned to the battalion newspaper.  I'm back to interviewing people. 

“General, would you please comment on the significance of this event?”  That famous question was always perfect for a wedding, a death or even a circumcision. It would always get a statement from any Colonel or general looking for some good PR.

AFN Frankfurt recognizing my frequent visits to drop off some taped news stories and decided to cut me a break. They asked if I could help come up with some sort fire prevention campaign.  We want something like Smokey the Bear. I didn't know it at the time but I was auditioning. After an hour of nothing, I was told to go down to lunch in the basement dining hall.  Dining Hall doesn't do it justice.  It was a grand restaurant and in the evening converted to a night club.  Here I am surrounded by the stars of AFN. I've always had an inferiority complex. All of a sudden I was star struck and a little bit sick.

As I walked back to the Production Office, I came up with an idea and asked to use a studio. I worked up “Horace the Fire Prevention Horse” and produced a few spots. Horace's voice was a mix between Disney's Goofy and Edgar Bergen's Mortimer Snerd.  When I returned to the office, AFNs executive director, Bob Harland was there and against my wishes, listened to impromptu spots.  Whatever words you think fit - like total terror, would probably work here.

As I look back on it now, there seemed to have been an elitist attitude at the AFN-Europe building. After all, they were the network and flagship station for all Europe. One of the other Production Engineers was cleaning up one of my 'homemade' productions one day and asked me if I was from New York or Boston. Not knowing what I was walking into, I proudly sad; "New York. Why? Do I have an accent?” His answer was “My dear, you have a speech impediment”

After hearing my spots that I simply did without written copy, Mr. Harland asked; “Would you be available for a re-assignment?” “Sure, may I use your washroom?”  I puked.

I had my assignment for AFN, BUT for only six days.

“The Colonel wants to see you”.  I knew that was always a bad thing.

Because of the troop buildup in Vietnam there was a lottery system in place to allow all soldiers to rotate out of the war zone after 12 months. Since there were over 550,000 men station in Nam at the time, soldiers that were stationed all over the world, got a chance to partake in the warm sultry breezes of the south China Sea and fragrant smell of napalm.  I was to be reassigned to Vietnam, in my old signal MOS that I just couldn't get rid of.  

Merry Christmas.

It was December 23rd and the assistant XO helped me arrange flying home for leave. While home, the Tet Offensive took place and the place that I was supposed to be sent to, was blown off the map. A place called Hui. With the blind ambition of youth, I was on the telephone speaking with anyone that would talk to me at the Pentagon.  Hours on the telephone at long distance rates.  A CPT Kelly, from New York, (no relation) arranged for me to be sent to Long Bihn.  Through personnel magic, somehow there was an excess in my MOS there and that was my best chance of getting to AFVN.

I ended up getting the chance to audition at AFVN. They want me to read the NBC audition “I'm a production guy, not an announcer”

“Everyone takes the audition.  Read the instructions.  Don't ad-lib.  If you're not sure how to pronounce something just say it with authority.”

I couldn't pronounce half of the instructions.

Shortly after starting the audition I stopped reading and adlibbed;  “Should we say VietNOM or should we say VietNAM like our commander in chief does?”

The AFVN ceilings weren't very soundproof. From the front lobby where I was waiting to hear of my fate, I could hear them laughing when they heard the playback. Damn that speech impediment!

The anxiety was back.  A dream come true or Signal Corps in a war zone.

“We'll give you a shot” “Can I use your rest room?” I puked again.

I was at AFVN from March 1968 to July 1969 (the heavy years) and Head of Production for most of that time.

Scott Manning and I were asked to go downtown and get some human interest stories from the guys. So what does Scott do? He interviews me. We both couldn't stop laughing. Great memory.

There were two bombings that I was involved with. Both happened in June of 68. I had helped Jim Burnside carry a bunch of carts into Studio A and was hanging around while he began the program, “The Dawnbuster” . After the 'Goooooood Morning Vietnam', Jim came on with "Well here we go again, on a June  -----" and BOOM. The whole place shook. Being the pro that Jim was, he never faltered for a second. He quickly brought the music back up, killed the Mic, looked at me and yelled "What the hell was that?", brought the music under, hit the Mic and picked up exactly where he was before the interrupted; "- - - June 14th - - - yadda yadda,- - -  on the Dawnbuster, the show with a bang" - and hit the first song. There was no damage in the studios, though it was close enough to be heard on Mic.

The 2nd one was quite different. It was a few weeks later. The two buildings housing AFVN and Vietnam TV were separated only by a parking lot. A small cab (Fiat) pulled up along the distant side the Vietnam TV station. We were told later on that it was packed with approximately 250 pounds of plastic explosives. I was on the board and Mike Turpin had just started the 1300 newscast. We were about a minute in when the bomb went off. I never shut the Mic off and on the tape, you can hear the explosion, the falling ceilings, fluorescent lights falling, and glass breaking. The Vietnam TV building was badly damaged. AFVN escaped with only a lot of blown in windows and lots of dropped ceilings and dirt. One AFVN civilian engineer whose office faced the Vietnam TV station received some shrapnel and that's all. Besides the audio tape, there is a photo of the hole the bomb left.

As soon as our transmission stopped from the studio, a small Wollensack tape recorder was turned on at the transmitter site many miles away for about 30 minutes. After I cleared away all the broken ceiling tiles and light fixtures, I took it back from the transmitter. So all in all, we were only off the air for about 2 -3 minutes with no audio being transmitted.

I had the privilege and the honor to greet Martha Raye back to Vietnam on her sixth (6) and final tour. She immediately jumped in a jeep and was off to the Big Red One. Not many knew that Martha was a real Registered Nurse and would be up to her elbows in blood and guts before the day was out.

As a teenager, I had years of experience standing before large crowds and speaking over a microphone. I loved it. Yet when I was placed in a real radio studio, I would literally freeze. Maybe it was not seeing the people or feeling their 'vibe'. I guess this is what is known as "Mic Fright", and I had it in spades. In discussing this with an old-timer in radio once, he said that I had put radio up on such a pedestal for so many years, that when I was in front of it, I simply crumbled. It took many years to get over it.

Here I am at home in my Production Studio January 1969. I felt safe speaking on the mic because everything went on tape first. I had just got back from Christmas leave and had not shaved yet.

Oldies weren't really as popular back in the late 60s as they are today. Yet I had this feeling that when you're away from home - especially when faced with constant danger, memories of home, and simpler happy times were important. I talked the PD who was Cal LaMartiniere into letting me do a small show on Saturday night. In late October 1968, I presented "Solid Gold" ' from the basement of AFVN in Saigon'. The basement was symbolized by some echo (regurge) and a theme from the Outer Limits TV show. Every week I dedicated the program to a certain year, chatting about popular trends or fads in between sets of 3 songs. I kept the chatter down so I could get as many songs in as possible within a 1 1/2 hour time slot.

Though it was not acknowledged by anyone at AFVN, the show got some fan mail and was left in its "harmless" time slot of 10:30 PM to 12 midnight.- - - like what else would anyone be doing in Vietnam at 10:30 at night? Dinner and a show? Drive In and pizza? In fact, it was a perfect time and don't let any history revisionists tell you different. No one knew that it was the "best" time and it was intentionally programmed that way. It wasn't.

I truly felt that playing a memory for the troops going out on patrol was very special.  The troops thought so too.  In March of 1969, a survey was sent out randomly to Generals and Privates alike. 10,000 surveys were sent out and the station received back nearly 3,400 responses. No survey anywhere could be more accurate. All the daily programs were listed. Even the once a week, 'Special' programs like "The Spanish Hour" were listed but not "Solid Gold".

There was one hope left. At the end of the survey, there was one blank line marked 'Other'. On a write in vote, Solid Gold - was the third highest rated program on the network.  Woo Hoo!!

I decided to do my own survey of the" Top 20 all time great recordings" as selected by the men and women of Vietnam. The survey wasn't promoted on any other program, just Solid Gold. The letters and cards began to pour in. Many used the sides of K-Ration boxes as post cards. This was much bigger than I thought. Imagine, here we are in a war zone and guys are cutting out K-Ration boxes to answer a music survey on radio. This wasn't just big for Solid Gold but it was big for AFVN (though no one in management would dare admit it).

I played my cards close to the vest and no one knew what the ballets were or even where the survey was going. I would greet the mail and squirrel away the votes.

There was one major problem.. The voting was fairly clear and one song was far and above the most requested - no question whatsoever.  "Satisfaction" was never released on AFRTS disc. Now remember, we're talking about a 3 1/2 year old song that was very popular. AFRTS will never admit it but the song was banned, probably do to suggestive lyrics. Secretively, I borrowed a 45RPM disc from an Air Force friend, put it on a cart and marked it "Foot Care" so no one could find it - if they were looking

Scott Manning, who was the PD at the time suggested that we do the show live, which scared the hell out of me but knowing Scott who was a great voice as well as a great production talent, he would keep the show moving just right .

Now mind you, this is 45 years ago. I can only still remember the results of the top 4 tunes
Best Male - Elvis, Best Female - Connie Francis, Best group - The Beatles. The top 4 were
#4 House of the Rising Sun - The Animals, #3 Cherish - the Association, #2 Light My Fire - The Doors and then as I remember it -

Scott:  Ok Bob, this is it. The honor is yours.

Bob     Thanks Scott. And now Ladies and Gentlemen, the number one song as voted by you, the men and women of Vietnam -

Tympani Roll: hit the cart: Bam Bam bada Bam ba Bam Bam

Pot up full -- meters pegged

I hear the newsroom next door burst into a wild cheer.

The next day I went on sick call, I never did that before.  Something was up.  I was diagnosed with a serious and painful cyst on my butt.  It would require a month in Japan.  Since I extended over there, adding six months to my tour, the doctor believed I had so little time left in theatre that they'd send me home after. I left with hand-written orders."Medivac to Japan", and went back to AFVN.

“Colonel Nash wants to see you”
“Hi Colonel, what's up?”
Nash:  Stand at attention! Someone get the SGM!
Nash:  Did you bring an unauthorized record into the studio?
Bob:  Yes but -
Nash: You’re at Attention. Did you record an unauthorized record onto tape?
Bob:  Yes but -
Nash: You’re still at attention! Did you play that unauthorized record on the air?

Yes, but listen Colonel, that was a survey program. Hundreds of guys voted for that particular song. Aren't we here to entertain the troops? It is what they wanted to hear. I have proof.

I'm having you reassigned so far from here you won't be able to LISTEN to the radio.

“I'm sorry sir but I have these orders here to be Medivac'd to Japan --.”

The SMG rips the note from the Colonial's hand and got more and more angry.  They called the doctor.  The orders were real.  They called for two MPs to pack me out and leave country.  They made it very clear to the MPs there was no excuse for letting me out of their sight.

Before leaving the station, the MPs pull me aside and asked; "What the hell did you do man, kill his first born?"

"No. I just played Satisfaction by the Stones last night".

  “Great song.  Can we use the rest room?”

This gave me time to go back to the production studios and say goodbye to the guys.

The very year I came home, 1969, I gathered some audio equipment, and with the help of the USO, I broadcast live from Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

A class A line was dropped off at the corner window of the 14th floor of the Lowes State Building on 47th Street, giving me a total view of Times Square and the famous Ball. I went 'Live' to AFRTS in Washington and was plugged into "Radio Free Europe" and "The Voice of America" For the last 2 years I had the wonderfully funny and talented Broadway star, Bernadette Peters as my co-host.

The program ran from 11:30 PM to 12:05 AM and landed in Vietnam at the exact time of the USO program was on the air. I would be lying if, during that first broadcast, where I also had taped message from The Mayor of New York, for one tiny second, I didn't feel a slight taste of victory over the narrow minded Colonel and SGM. But it was only a second. All I basically want to do was bring something special to the guys and I believe I did. I repeated the broadcast for four years.

The following month, the USO, in their monthly news letter, ran a picture of Patty Krause (the USO lady from Vietnam for 5 years) and me during the broadcast. Under the photo they said that it was the first time the USO ever sponsored a worldwide event. Though it took me a few years, I pretty much reached my goal of being on radio. I was 26.

New Years Eve 1969 overlooking Times Square. Patty Krause, the' USO Lady' who was in country for 5 years and hosted a 1/2 hour program "What's New At The USO" , five days a week for over 4 years. We were talking live to not only Vietnam but the entire AFRTS network but Radio Free Europe and Voice of America. Just ask me if I was nervous. Naaaaaaa

After the army I was a producer at WMCA and WNBC.  As a hands-on kind of person the union restrictions about who could do what, drove me crazy.  These were not people getting things done; they were people drawing a check.

There's more to the story...

 In the latter 1950s the record dance was called a Record Hop. In the early 50s they were called Platter Parties. The term Sock Hop came about in the 60s because of the new finishes on Gym floors and saw dust was no longer being used, leather soled shoes could not be worn. Most girls had already been removing their shoes because they could not dance in heels (and did not want to be taller then the boys). TRUE!

In 1958, Bob Casey, a well-known Record-Hop DJ, introduced the first two-turntable system in order to have continuous music. He was the first USA DJ to do this.  His dad Edward P Casey built a two turntable system to play the Ave Maria in the church.  There was a long procession and the music needed to continue.  He segued between two copies until all had passed. Since the Ave Maria basically starts and ends the same way, it worked great. However the following year they used a chamber group and the dual turntable box ended up in storage. 

Bob wanted to do Record-Hops and first used the unit in 1958 and made history.  

That original DJ unit was shown at the Smithsonian Click here for the podcast.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Army Hour - 1960 - Audie Murphy

PFC Ralph McDermitt from the 3rd Division PAO shop had the chance to interview the most decorated veteran of WWII, Audie Murphy.

This interview went out on a 1960 "Army Hour"

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Danny Kramer - 1983

In 1983 AFRTS tried an interesting experiment and used jocks from all over the country.  Most were top talent that had soldiered at an AFRTS station way back when.  Bob Moke, Joe Ferguson and others.  AFRTS Alaska vet Danny Kramer was one.  The day job was KSL in Salt Lake.  Here's part of what went worldwide.

Now Danny has taken the show online.  Take a look/listen