Tuesday, July 24, 2018

WVTP Seoul 1946

AFRS was in Korea, helping with the occupation after WWII.  A few year ago I wrote up what I could find of the story of WVTP Click here
Recently I heard from one of the guys there in the early days, Lee Jost:
Thom, these recollections are offered as a supplement to the entry of February 16, 2016 re: AFRS Korea before AFKN. Thanks for showing the formal announcement of WVTP’s inaugural broadcast on October 22, 1945 with staffs’ names and ranks. Two years later, in September, 1947 I was transferred from the 7th ID to WVTP and remained until March, 1948.
From December 1946 to the transfer, my unit was the 7th ID 32nd IR located at Chuncheon. Duties included supply-train guard to and from Seoul; and, when at our outpost, foot patrols on mountainous trails of up to 36 miles along the 38th parallel to remote villages checking on incursions by Russian troops or northern Korean police and interviewing Koreans fleeing the north to escape Communist oppression. I enjoyed outpost duty but dreamed then of a radio career. On a layover in Seoul, while serving as train guard, I auditioned at WVTP.
The Feb.16, 2016 entry is correct. WVTP’s studio, library, newsroom, control room and a staff billet were on 2nd floor of the XXIV Corp building. Additionally: some military staff was billeted a few doors away; rehearsal rooms for entertainers and orchestras (local and touring) were on the third floor; and the building’s fine theatre with balcony, proscenium arch, backstage and movie facilities were on the main floor. (The hot tub backstage was excellent.)
Staff was comprised of army personnel (full time) and civilians (part time) some of whom were vets or affiliated with support organizations such as The Red Cross.
The list below is cumulative. Of those named, only a few were at WVTP at any one time. Army staff worked every day at assigned programs, control room shifts, and related duties such as: writing scripts for original programs; selecting music for daily programs; editing the daily news; and researching for special events. For a time we met each morning for 45 minutes commenting on one another’s scripts. A Sidebar: Operating hours were 5:58 a.m. - 11:00 p.m. except New Year’s Eve 1947-48 was extended to 2:00 a.m. to continue dance music for celebrations throughout our listening area.
I worked the late shift that 12.31.47. There was a knock on the door at midnight and when I opened, a guy put a drink in my hand, wished me a “happy New Year” and asked for more of the good music as he hurried back to…wherever.
 [Code: A-Army; C-civilian; and V-veteran]
Officer in Charge: Lt. Little
Station Mgr.: Dick Kirk [C] [V?]
SSgt Jack Decker [writer]
? Bob Sacco [A]
? Jim Umland [A]
? Bob Horstman [A]
SSgt LeRoy Jost (Lee)
MSgt Frank Maguire arr. 2/48.
Claire Neustadt [C]
Jeanne Robinson [C]
Tom Kennedy [C]
Meredith Wagner [C]
Robert Nimmo [C] [V], a polished professional [on-air name Trebor Ommin]; while active-Army, with AFRS Berlin, Germany; and as civilian, an advisor to Korea station JODK (?).
Program sources and content.
Using traditional formats, we developed content for our assigned programs by simply selecting music and commentary appropriate for the season/holiday for the daily e.g. Musical Milkman and Wax Museum, editing tele typed news, researching background of program guests and writing original script for special events and Sunday night’s, The Week In Review.  Our head writer for that program was Jack Decker.
AFRS’ recorded programs like The Bob Burns Show, Hollywood Bowl, Hymns from Home, American Album were staples as were AFRS specials e.g. a Christmas Show. We also broadcasted AFRS shortwave newscasts received from San Francisco Sunday evenings. A SIDEBAR: On a Sunday in November 1947, Radio Moscow interrupted AFRS, San Francisco with the closing moments of its Orders of the Day. Then a voice in English announced, “This is Radio Moscow…..” We quickly countered with, “We interrupt this program…”; read tele typed news; and, with headphones, listened to Moscow as it honored a Russian artillery unit for its campaign against the Germans at Stalingrad. [A precursor to Russian hacking?]
Claire Neustadt (Red Cross) did a fine daily show Bulletin Board with I & E info plus dates of scheduled events of military and civilian organizations. It evolved to include interviews with dignitaries, missionaries, and prominent others covering a wide range of topics. One guest, Jim Browitt, was mgr. of Korean station HLKA.
A Sidebar: On Christmas Eve ‘47, I closed the station, attended midnight mass at the Seoul Cathedral, joined staff at Dick Kirk’s home until 2:30 a.m. Dick had intercepted my package from home and it was under their tree for me to open and share Mom’s stollen. We heard roaming Korean carolers sing Silent Night in Korean…I joined them with the German lyrics…then on to Jim Browitt’s home in his new Studebaker until 5:30… breakfast at messhall…pick up the day’s news roll and back to the station.
On 13 February, 1948 Claire interviewed Major Walter Goldstein. The Major’s, military history began in the 1930s. He was currently stationed in Korea. His book of verses, written at various places during WWII and the intro in Korea. Shreds from an Old Sun Helmet  had been recently published (1947). My signed copy, now yellowed with age, after his salutation, still clearly says,”….with fond memories of the Korean Occupation and WVTP…Sincerely.
Claire accepted a spot at WVTR, Tokyo and her replacement renamed the show, Date for Tonight.
We produced several remotes. Bob Sacco and Jack Decker did the play-by-play and color for two 7th Division football games. The 7th ID v.MG game on October 11, 1947 ended 48-0.
I was assigned to announce and provide commentary for the first radio broadcast of the Korea Symphony Orchestra from the stage of the XXIV Corps Theater (October 22, 1947).
The conductor was Mr. Lim Won Sik. The pianist was Mr. Yun Kison. The program included: Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony; Beethoven’s Piano Concerto in E flat minor; and Capriccio Espanol. Both men were invited to study at the Juilliard. The theatre was packed.
 Shortly before air-time…a power outage. The theatre went dark and the station off-air. (Some believed Russians were harassing again by throwing a switch at a northern hydro-electric plant.) Using a theater mic, I ad-libbed in the dark about the program to keep the audience focused until auxiliary generators were started. The broadcast began and concluded without further incident. A huge success.
Hopefully, these recollections will serve as another thread in WVTP’s tapestry. Any more threads out there?
Lee Jost: Korea December, 1946-March,1948

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