By Bob Campbell
“I was with WVTK in Leyte and I and one other soldier went to Samar and built a station, selected and trained personnel, got the station to air and turned it over to the navy. The station on Leyte then closed down. I then went home.” – Bob Campbell, WVTK
The night I Shot Roy Acuff…
I was a member the armed services during WW2, stationed in the Philippine Islands on the island of Leyete. I was with Armed Forces Radio and at radio station WVTK. This was at a time when the Huk guerillas, an anti-government organization, were causing lots of problems and killing a lot of people. The station was located on a remote stretch of beach just north of Red Beach and the Army was concerned that the Huks might try to take the station over for propaganda broadcasts.
The station broadcast everything that was of interest to the thousands of military in the area. This included a lot of music. We had a program called Requestfully Yours that ran from 10 PM to midnight each evening and played songs requested by all branches of service. We took requests by mail, by telephone, by signal lights on ships, dropped by planes and any other way service men and women could get requests to the station. The most popular singer and most requested was Roy Acuff.
I was not a Roy Acuff fan and decided one evening I would end the Acuff requests or at least have some fun with them. This particular evening I was the announcer on duty for Requestfully Yours. The announcer sat at the control panel where he could control the two turntables (we played records in those days). Turn his mike on to speak and off when not speaking and control the volume. When the mike was off a speaker came on and you could hear the music that was playing on the turntables. When the mike was on the speaker in the control room was off so there would be no feedback.
I cued a Roy Acuff record up on one turntable and cued up machine gun fire on the other turntable. About this time another member of the staff came into the control room and sat down and said “what are you doing tonight?”
I said “I’m tired of playing Roy Acuff records so I’m going to start an Acuff record playing and then I’m going to turn up the machine gun fire on the other turntable turn down the Acuff record and announce that Roy Acuff has been shot and there will be no more Roy Acuff records played”.
I flipped on the mike and announced the Acuff record. I then hit the mike switch to off and turned down the volume on the Acuff record and then turned up the machine gun volume. Suddenly I and my friend realized we couldn’t hear Acuff or the machine gun fire.
The friend said, a little excitedly, “what is going on?” and I, also a little excited now, said ” I don’t know, but something bad is happening”. About this time we realized that the mike switch had not closed so our speaker wasn’t working and in addition everything we said went out over the air with machine gun fire in the background.
About this time the phone rang and when I answered it a voice said “this is General Tompkins, we know you are under attack and we are rushing help” with that the line went dead.
I and my friend sat there not sure what to do. A short time later there were heavily armed troops everywhere and suddenly the control room door burst open and a very angry general said “Soldier what in the h— is going on here”. It was a little difficult to explain.
There may be people out there who heard this broadcast. They of course wouldn’t know the whole story. I’m not sure of the general’s name.
The Essential Roy Acuff: 1936-1949 CD includes his greatest hits of this period.
Including ‘Great Speckled Bird’ and other hillbilly music such as ‘Not a Word from Home’ and ”Just to Ease My Worried Mind’.
Listen to all the tracks and see if you agree with Bob!
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