Tag Archives: AFN

History of the Armed Forces Radio Service

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall being interviewed by the Armed Forces Radio Service (Source: Wikipedia)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ron, who shares this article from Radio World:

We can’t fully appreciate the importance of news from home to those who served in World War II. In the Pacific campaigns, G.I.s, sailors and Marines fought bloody island-hopping battles; as each island was cleared, garrison troops and hospitals moved in and carried on their own war against mosquitoes, isolation and boredom. The island fighters were fortunate if dated mail caught up with them before they moved on to the next target. Timely personal-level communications were pretty much absent.

Radio programming from America was available but only on shortwave. And shortwave radios were not generally available. The fortunate few had been issued “Buddy Kits” that included a radio, a small PA system and a record player for discs sent by mail. But for most there was no way to receive short-lived information such as news and sports. They were left with enemy radio propaganda such as Japan’s “Orphan Ann/Annie” (aka one of several Tokyo Roses) and the “Zero Hour” program.

No wonder that the idea of having a local island radio station doing “live from home” was so fiercely supported. Enlightened commanders saw the idea as a terrific morale-builder. The only problem was how to pull it off.

A solution, not uniquely, came from within the ranks. It started with the work of some bored but talented soldiers in the Panama Canal Zone who in 1940 built a couple of 50 W transmitters and put them on the air without authorization, labeling them “PCAN” and “PCAC.”

In Alaska, 7,500 miles northwest of Panama City, what started as programming through a loudspeaker system became a bootleg radio operation at Kodiak. Coming on the air in January 1942 and calling itself “KODK,” it delivered a whopping 15 watts to the troops. Sources with hindsight later said that the Armed Forces Radio Service (“AFRS”) was born here, when one of its progenitors visited the Alaska operations and “came up with the idea.”[…]

Click here to continue reading the full article at Radio World.

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“I listen to NPR…on my shortwave radio”

npr_logoLast year, National Public Radio (NPR) asked listeners when and how they listen to NPR. Their goal was to put together clips into a short spot for the network’s spring fund drive. After telling them that I’ve been known to listen to NPR on shortwave, they asked for me to record a short clip stating this fact. I amiably complied.

Last week, I rediscovered the clip. The spot would have been aired on local member stations in the first half of 2013:

Have you listened to NPR on shortwave? Both the American Forces Network and Radio Australia broadcast NPR news content.

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US Shutdown: AFN Diego Garcia reduces broadcasts

AFN-Diego-GarciaThe American Forces Network’s Pacific transmitting site, Diego Garcia, will have reduced radio broadcasts due to the US government shutdown. The following is a statement from their Facebook page:

“In light of the government shutdown, because of mandatory staff reductions at the AFN broadcast center, AFN will reduce television services to the news and pentagon channels only. AFN radio will carry some football games live on the voice. We’ll keep you updated as the situation progresses.”

AFN Diego Garcia broadcasts on 12,579 kHz and 4,319 kHz . Many thanks to Sudipta Ghose for the tip!

Click here for other posts regarding the US government shutdown.

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Check out the AFRTS Archive

AFRTSMany shortwave listeners are familiar with the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS); we’ve mentioned them before and the wide variety of programming they offer via several transmission sites.

I recently discovered the AFRTS Archive, an excellent blog that posts archived audio and memories from the AFRTS. The AFRTS Archive is actively updated and chock-full of nostalgia.

It’s Memorial Day here in the States and found this a fitting time to dig through the AFRTS Archive.

Of course, you can still listen to the AFRTS on shortwave–here are the frequencies:

AFN/AFRTS Shortwave Frequencies (note: all broadcasts are in USB)

  • Diego Garcia:
    • 12,579 kHz daytime
    • 4,319 kHz nighttime
  • Guam:
    • 13,362 kHz daytime
    • 5,765 kHz nighttime
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AFN (AFRTS) drops Key West transmitters

Due to budget cuts, the American Forces Network (AFRTS) has decommissioned their Key West, Florida SW frequencies of: 5446, 7811, 12133 kHz

Since the Navy provides the shortwave service as a supplementary or backup service for their ships that don’t have the Navy’s Direct-to-Sailor (DTS) capability, I’m not terribly surprised they’re downsizing. Even so, the AFN still maintains their Guam and Diego Garcia transmitters as they recognize that the, “[s]hortwave service is also an option for land-based listeners in remote locations that do not have access to local or satellite-delivered AFRTS full Satellite Network (SATNET) services.”

AFN/AFRTS Shortwave Frequencies (note: all broadcasts are in USB)

  • Diego Garcia:
    • 12,579 kHz daytime
    • 4,319 kHz nighttime
  • Guam:
    • 13,362 kHz daytime
    • 5,765 kHz nighttime

Personally, I’m a little saddened by the cuts as the Key West facility was the easiest for me to hear in the US, though I routinely hear Guam and Diego Garcia. Not familiar with the AFRTS?  Check out our recent post.

Thanks to Kim Elliott for the tip.

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