Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Enchantment of Music - 1961

"Dinner Music" we ran that many different shows.  In 1961 KCBH-FM was experimenting with what to do with FM.  The matchless high fidelity was a draw.  Bruce Wendell brought a nice mix of mostly uptempo orchestral music.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

America's Popular Music - 1965

Andy Mansfield and Kay Starr

Andy Mansfield did a great job with the oldies of the past decades.  In the 50s he did a similar show "Turn Back the Clock" with his wife Virginia.

FEN - Wakkanai 1961 Jim Pritchard

Thom, as a graduate of AFRTS, I give thanks ever everyday that I was in a place where I could break in.  I went on to spend 15 years behind the mic with stops in Los Angeles, Cleveland, Salt Lake City and some smaller locales, thanks to my year of experience with FEN-Wakkanai.

Wakkanai is as far north in Japan as you can get.  The USAF facility there was part of the "Security Service".  USAFSS had a string of "listening posts" surrounding the USSR, from Scotland to Japan.  Sometime around 1959 or so, the guys at the base decided they needed a radio station to help pass the time in this "remote" location.  Since it was a listening facility, it was loaded with electronic gear and troops that knew how to use it.

They built a small, low power AM station without bothering to tell the Far East Network (FEN-Japan).  Things went along OK for several months and then one strange night, as AM stations will do the signal took off and skipped right into the middle of downtown Tokyo, blocking out a major AM station there.

Needless to say, this started a major international fuss.  After much discussion, FEN offered to step in and set up one of their outlets in full cooperation with the Japan version of the FCC.

They shipped all the needed equipment along with the music library and one Army Spec-4 to supervise and got the whole thing going.  It was a 24/7 operation, since the base was working every hour of every day.  With no staff announcers, it was up to volunteers to do the on-air work.  Shifts were 4 hours long and the troops usually had about 2 or so every week.

I showed up in January, 1961, part of a group of just-graduated accounting and finance clerks.  I had enlisted right after I graduated high school since I had no grades to make college my future.  I was a pretty serious follower of the pop music of the day and had even had a by-line column about the hits in my school newspaper.

It turned out that one of my roommates, Jerry, was working the 5-9 AM shift on a regular basis.  When he found out that I was a real music fan, he invited me over to the studio to look through the AFRTS transcription library.  I did so a few times and then one day, he told me to put on the earphones and see what I sounded like when I opened the mic.  All I had to do was give the station ID between two radio dramas that were on the schedule.  Finally the time came, I opened the mic and uttered the immortal words "Serving American forces overseas, this is the Far East Network".

Jerry walked in the control room and informed me that I needed to be on the volunteer staff .   I was stunned.  That afternoon, I found the Army guy and told him what had happened.  He'd already heard from Jerry, so he said that I did have to follow the usual custom of my first shift being an all-night gig.  That was fine with me and so my broadcast career got underway.

I got some great feedback from the guys that were listening in operations that night.  Within about a month, I was among the upper echelon of the staff guys, working the "Saturday Bandstand" shift and lending my knowledge of pop music to the other guys.  What a thrill it was.

In the Spring of 1962, I was on our base bowling team and traveled to Tachikawa AFB for the "All Air Force Japan" tournament.  While I was there I took the opportunity to spend the afternoon at the FEN main studios.  It turned out that Wakkanai was quite famous among the crew there because the FEN did a major weather program 3 times a day, with all the Japan stations checking in. They loved listening to us because our weather was always the worst of all the outlets, especially in the winter.  I also found a little closed circuit station that was piped into all the barracks in Tachi, and they played only all the pop music of he day.  The DJ there was a good guy to talk to and passed on a few tips.

Later that summer, I was transferred to Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo, TX.  My dad had given me a car so after I'd been there about a month I drove into town and found the KTEO studios, the local Top 40 outlet.  I walked in the door and asked if they needed weekend help.  The manager asked if I had any experience, I told them about a year in AFRTS.  He said to show up Sunday at 6 PM and they'd give me a listen.

I did a 6 hour gig, finding out how much different commercial radio was compared to AFRTS.  They liked what they heard, so I did two weekends of all-night shifts and then asked me to do the 9-midnight every night.  For a 20 year old kid, being a real live DJ on a real live Top 40 station was beyond my wildest dreams, and I loved it.

I found out later that FEN Wakkanai became a duty station about a year after I left with no more volunteers so I  was blessed to be there when I was.  To this day, I give thanks that I just happened to be there at the right time.  Being a radio DJ back then was truly a gift from heaven.

Thanks for the AFRTS site, I hope this helped your info gathering

James Pritchard
(aka Jim Southern, DJ)
Gladstone, OR

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Hollywood Bowl Silver Celebration - 1946

In 1946 the Hollywood Bowl was celebrating it's Silver anniversary with a special series of concerts that were broadcast on AFRS.  As part of this series was a special show to remember the tenth anniversary of the loss of George Gershwin.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Early AFN part 3

A while back we receive a lot of unlabeled material from AFN, mostly from the early 1950s and Munich.

Question for our German friends, how has the way you use AFN changed  over the years?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

AFVN RIP Jane Cook Lewis "Jane the Weathergirl:

“Janie the Weathergirl,” as she was known to the viewers of the American Forces Vietnam Network TV station in Saigon, was killed in an automobile crash September 12, on Interstate 5 just north of Oceanside, California.

She and her twin sister Joan were born May 6, 1942, in San Diego.  Jane was a graduate of Hoover High School in San Diego and attended San Diego State University where she met her husband-to-be, George Lewis.  They were married August 22, 1964.

As a young wife, Jane encouraged her husband to pursue his TV career and accompanied him to Vietnam when NBC News sent George to cover the war for the network in 1970.  From late that year until early 1972, Jane became the “weather girl” on American Forces TV in Saigon.  She also traveled in combat zones, helping entertain the troops at various firebases and visiting the U.S. Navy fleet patrolling the Gulf of Tonkin, dropping in on some of the vessels at the end of a helicopter hoist line.

One of her trademarked bits on AFVN was the way she wrapped up the weather report on the late news.  She’d recline on a couch, whisper “goodnight fellas,” and turn off the light. It was decidedly un-p.c. by today’s standards, but a big hit with the troops.

During her time in Southeast Asia, Jane developed an interest in Asian art and was later co-founder of Vagabond House, a small business that imported Asian decorative accessories.  She and her partner Susan Lord, the wife of NBC News producer Art Lord, were among the first American businesswomen to visit China on a buying trip a couple of years after President Richard Nixon’s historic opening of relations in 1972.

With the birth of her first daughter Sarah, in Houston in 1977, Jane’s focus shifted to motherhood.  A second daughter, Katherine, was born in 1980 in Washington, D.C.  Two years later, the Lewis family returned to California when George was assigned to the NBC Los Angeles bureau.

Jane and George went their separate ways in 1993 but remained connected through their children and grandchildren.  They vowed to live out their lives as friends and welcomed grandsons Carter, Jack and Owen into the family in recent years.

Jane’s final decade was spent in San Diego and she lived at the home she inherited from her mother in 2005. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, contributions be sent to AIWF San Diego, 2683 Via de la Valle, Del Mar, CA 92014. Checks should be made out to AIWF and “Jane Cook Lewis Scholarship Fund” should be written on the memo line. AIWF is a 501(c)(3) charity and contributions are fully tax deductible.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Chris Noel - 1969

Chris Noel and Bob Crane. 

Chris Noel made a lot of days a lot brighter.  Her show A Date With Chris made a huge impact in the lives of Vietnam era troops.  It's a Tuesday in 1969.

Link fixed

Small World - 1965

Small World was a catch all show hosted by the always affable George Chruch.  On todays show the guest is singer Gogi Grant.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Andy Mansfield - 1964

Andy Mansfield continues his tribute to Glenn Miller. We're up to part 15 on America's Popular Music.

Roland Bynum - 1984

Roland Bynum sent a note with good words for the blog.  This is another great moment in radio, Roland Bynum 1984.  I always admired how personable his presentation was and still is.

Monday, September 5, 2016

AFN Paris - Django Reinhardt 1945

Django Reinhardt was one incredible musician. His left hand was withered, some fingers unusable.  Jack Platt led the AEF band, the one that had been led by Glenn Miller.  They toured all over Europe.  It swung.  In 1945 Django was in the studio at AFN Paris.