AFRS Around the World

This article forms part of the Radio Heritage Collection ©. All rights reserved to Ragusa Media Group, PO Box 14339, Wellington, New Zealand. This material is licenced on a non-exclusive basis to radiodx.com for a period of five years from July 1 2001.) Author: David Ricquish

Need for Entertainment Continues – AFRS Around the World in January 1946


Global Network

The global network of the Armed Forces Radio Service is still on the air overseas. Outlining present broadcast coverage, Maj. Martin H Work, AFRS Commandant, headquartered in Los Angeles, reminded that 113 stations staffed by military personnel of US Army and Navy are continuing daily broadcast operations throughout the world.

Coverage of forces under Gen..Douglas MacArthur’s command, originally accomplished by AFRS stations group known as the “Jungle Network” now extends to Japan, he pointed out. AFRS mobile broadcast stations which rolled in along with the men during initial phases of the occupation have been broadcasting ever since according to Maj. Work.


Far East Network

‘Upon expanding into Japanese territory,’ he explained, ‘the Jungle Network became identified as the Far Eastern Network with AFRS stations stretching from Finschhafen-to-Manila-to-Tokyo’.

A pair of 1000w AFRS stations are now on the air at Manila and Okinawa (WVTM, WXLH). Stations ranging in power from 50 to 400w are still beaming programmes from WVTB Zamboanga, WVTA Finschhafen, WVTE San Fernando, Luzon, WVTF Hollandia, WVTG Biak, WVTI Cebu City, WVTK Tolosa, WVTL Morotai, WVTN Iloilo, WVTS Puerto Princessa, WVTT Malaybalay, Mindanao.

AFRS stations in Japan and Korea operate in a network with stations of Radio Tokyo itself, having been taken over by Gen. MacArthur’s AFRS staff.


Mosquito Network

Down in the South Pacific, the Mosquito Network remains in operation with five key AFRS stations: WVUQ Guadalcanal, WVUR Espirito Santo, WVUS Noumea, WVUT Nadi, and Tutuila (Navy). Radio Guadal, Santo and Noumea have 1000w installations, while the Fiji and Samoan AFRS stations operate on 50w.


Pacific Ocean Network

Covering the rest of the Pacific is the Pacific Ocean Network, dotting coral atolls in the Gilberts, Marshalls, Marianas, and the islands of the Hawaiian group, with 1000w stations WXLD and WXLG on Saipan and Kwajalein.

Navy personnel operates WVTV Johnston, KMTH Midway. Other AFRS stations still being heard daily are WVUU Christmas Island, WXLI Guam, WVTW Peleliu, WVTX Iwo Jima, WXLE Eniwetok,.


Alaska

There are 16 AFRS stations on the job in the Aleutians and Alaska mainland, including such familiar bases as Nome, Dutch Harbor, Kodiak, Fairbanks, Amchitka, Attu and others.


American Forces Network, Europe

On the other side of the world, American Forces Network, main broadcast artery of the AFRS through the United Kingdom, France and Germany has kept its broadcast schedule, dropping a number of stations in the British Isles, but increasing them on the Continent.

AFN is now broadcasting from five locations in France: Normandy, Paris, Cannes, Nice and Marseille. AFRS stations in Germany include those at Munich, Stuttgart, Bremen, Berlin, Frankfurt, Kassel and Bayreuth. Stations in Munich and Stuttgart, staffed by American military personnel operate on 100,000w. In Austria, 1000w installations are at Salzburg and Vienna.


Mediterranean and Beyond

Recently, AFRS stations of the Mediterranean Theater have merged into the American Forces Network. Included are those in Rome, Foggia, Caserta, Naples, Leghorn and Cividale. On the opposite shores of the Mediterranean, in North Africa, French Morocco, Liberia, Iraq and Egypt, transmitters of AFRS stations still continue.

A string of AFRS stations is still in operation at Casablanca, Dakar, Accra, Baghdad, Cairo and Palestine, broadcasting their 151 separate weekly AFRS programs from Los Angeles.


India, Burma and China

Girdling the world farther east from the Persian Gulf, the global network of AFRS spans the Arabian Sea into India, Burma and China. Station list includes: VU2ZY New Delhi, VU2ZX Karachi, VU2ZW Agra, VU2ZU Calcutta, VU2ZV Chabua, VU2ZN Ledo, VU2ZJ Texgaon, XMHA Shanghai, XNEW Kunming, XONE Pekin, XBOR Tientsin, XABU Taingtao, XUSE Chungking, XJOY Chengtu.


Caribbean, North Atlantic, Central and South America

Other important links in the global network of AFRS still bring daily American radio entertainment and information to armed forces of the United States in Bermuda, the Canal Zone, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Brazil, Cuba, Newfoundland, Greenland, Iceland, Labrador and Ascension Island,


Free Time on 28 Foreign Stations

In addition, this coverage is supplemented by 28 foreign owned government or private radio stations who donate a portion of their broadcast hours to AFRS for American forces in the vicinity.


Bedside Network Stateside

And, finally, there are 111 hospitals within the United States, treating war casualties who have joined the ‘Bedside Network’ of Armed Forces Radio Service. Each hospital is receiving weekly transcriptions of the special programs prepared for overseas listeners by AFRS. Elaborate sound systems are being installed in coordination with AFRS technical and programming experts.


This item appeared in the January 21 1946 issue of ‘Broadcasting’, an American radio industry magazine.


Post Wartime

Interestingly, this was past the height of the AFRS wartime effort, a network which literally spanned the globe with local radio stations even more than this article covers. The brief mention of the British Isles ignores the fact that this was a network almost as big as the BBC. In terms of local radio, this was unprecedented for Britain, with some 50 local AFRS radio stations. The BBC nervously demanded that the stations be granted very low powers and kept as far away from major population centers, such as London, as possible.

Common Record Library

The AFRS stations shared a common pool of V disc recordings, often produced by big name performers from the major domestic radio networks. With royalties waived, unions co-operating and the Los Angeles headquarters pulling every possible patriotic favor, AFRS listeners were exposed to an awe inspiring array of the best of American popular music.
Short wave broadcasts from high powered transmitters augmented these local broadcasts with common news, sports and other entertainment and information programs.

AFRS World’s First Truly Global Network

There’s no doubt that the AFRS were the world’s first truly global broadcasting network, only ten years or so after the BBC’s Empire broadcasts from London had given an illusion of similar coverage.

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