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.”[…]
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley for the following guest post:
AFVN: The GI’s Companion — A Tribute To Our Vietnam Veterans
Radio station WEBY on 1330 kHz in Milton, Florida (near Pensacola and Elgin Air Force Base), has produced a 10-hour documentary on the American Forces Vietnam Network. This documentary aired in two-hour segments in the afternoons of 26 through 30 October 2015. But it is being repeated in its entirety between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. CST (14:00 to 24:00 UTC) on Veterans Day (known as Remembrance Day in Canada and elsewhere), 11 November.
WEBY runs 25 kW during daytime hours (and a puny 79 watts at night) and can be heard in parts of four states (Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana) but it also streams its programs on the Internet and so can be heard around the world. I’ll try to record some of the streamed audio in case the documentary is not available after the broadcast.
I was alerted to this documentary by a recent episode of PCJ Radio International’s Media Network Plus (24 October) during which Keith Perron interviewed the producer. That interview is worth listening to, too.
AFVN transmitted on AM and FM throughout South Vietnam. I never had the opportunity to listen to AFVN personally, but as a high school student, I did use to listen to the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) on shortwave from time to time. AFVN received some of their broadcast material via AFRTS broadcasts from Voice of America transmitters in Delano, California, and the Philippines. A scan of a QSL card I received for a broadcast from AFRTS Los Angeles via Delano in April 1964 [see below].
Shortwave Radio 1974: Canada, Argentina, Spain, West Germany, Albania, utility stations
-Brian Smith (W9IND)
Want to know what shortwave radio sounded like in 1974? This 55-minute recording, recovered from a cassette, was never intended to be anything but “audio notes”: I was an 18-year-old shortwave listener who collected QSL cards from international stations, and I was tired of using a pen and a notepad to copy down details of the broadcasts. I wanted an easier way to record what I heard, and my cassette tape recorder seemed like the perfect means to accomplish that goal.
But it wasn’t. I soon discovered that it was simpler to just edit my notes as I was jotting them down — not spend time on endless searches for specific information located all over on the tape. To make a long story shorter, I abandoned my “audio notes” plan after a single shortwave recording: This one.
Hallicrafters S-108 (Image source: DXing.com)
Still, for those who want to experience the feel of sitting at a shortwave radio in the mid-1970s and slowly spinning the dial, this tape delivers. Nothing great in terms of sound quality; I was using a Hallicrafters S-108 that was outdated even at the time. And my recording “technique” involved placing the cassette microphone next to the radio speaker.
Thus, what you’ll hear is a grab bag of randomness: Major shortwave broadcasting stations from Canada, Argentina, Spain, Germany and Albania; maritime CW and other utility stations; and even a one-sided conversation involving a mobile phone, apparently located at sea. There are lengthy (even boring) programs, theme songs and interval signals, and brief IDs, one in Morse code from an Italian Navy station and another from a Department of Energy station used to track shipments of nuclear materials. And I can’t even identify the station behind every recording, including several Spanish broadcasts (I don’t speak the language) and an interview in English with a UFO book author.
The following is a guide, with approximate Windows Media Player starting times, of the signals on this recording. (Incidentally, the CBC recording was from July 11, 1974 — a date I deduced by researching the Major League Baseball scores of the previous day.)
Guide To The Recording
00:00 — CBC (Radio Canada) Northern and Armed Forces Service: News and sports. 07:51 — RAE (Radio Argentina): Sign-off with closing theme 09:14 — Department of Energy station in Belton, Missouri: “This is KRF-265 clear.” 09:17 — Interval signal: Radio Spain. 09:40 — New York Radio, WSY-70 (aviation weather broadcast) 10:22 — Unidentified station (Spanish?): Music. 10:51— Unidentified station (English): Historic drama with mention of Vice President John Adams, plus bell-heavy closing theme. 14:12 — Unidentified station (Spanish?): Male announcer, poor signal strength. 14:20 — Unidentified station (Spanish): Theme music and apparent ID, good signal strength. 15:16 — Unidentified station (foreign-speaking, possibly Spanish): Song, “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep.” 17:00 — Deutsche Welle (The Voice of West Germany): Announcement of frequencies, theme song. 17:39 — Unidentified station (English): Interview with the Rev. Barry Downing, author of “The Bible and Flying Saucers.” 24:36 — One side of mobile telephone conversation in SSB, possibly from maritime location. 30:37 — Radio Tirana (Albania): Lengthy economic and geopolitical talk (female announcer); bad audio. Theme and ID at 36:23, sign-off at 55:03. 55:11 — Italian Navy, Rome: “VVV IDR3 (and long tone)” in Morse code.
Brian, this is a brilliant recording–regardless of audio quality–and we’re very thankful you took the time to share it. Propagation has left something to be desired as of late, so time traveling back to 1974 has been incredibly fun.
Post Readers: If, like Brian, you have off-air recordings on tape that you’d like to share, please contact me! Even if you don’t have the means to transfer your tapes to a digital format, I’m a part of a small community of shortwave radio archivists who would be quite willing to help.
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