AFRS Alaska

KSKA Kiska, 1943.
Group includes Capt. Maurice Fowler OIC, Lt. Duncan Cotting, Asst Task Force SSD.
© American Forces Information Service.

Some 65 years ago, in early 1941, KRB radio began broadcasting from Sitka, Alaska. This was the unofficial birth of the soon to become global Armed Forces Radio Service.

By 1946, it’s reported that 16 AFRS stations were on air across the Alaskan Territory, many in isolated outposts along the Aleutian island chain, and some at sprawling bases near major towns such as Fairbanks.

We’ve carefully researched the early AFRS stations in Alaska from various sources, and have found around 40 of them. We’re sure to be missing some though, so please help us fill the gaps. Our list runs through to 1958.

Allen Greer outside WXLJ studios, Cold Bay, April 1946.
© Allen Greer Collection courtesy Lou Sander, Radio Heritage Foundation.

We’ve got a strange array of call signs, ranging from KRAY to ALAW, from KSKA to WXLL and GAB to WVCX, but we’ve also found some interesting images thanks to kind people who’ve come forward to share some old memories.

General view of Cold Bay base, 1946.
© Allen Greer Collection courtesy Lou Sander, Radio Heritage Foundation.

If you’ve been involved with any of these stations, even as a listener, we want to hear from you.

Memorabilia, articles, images, recordings or any other items of ephemera to help tell these AFRS Alaska stories are very welcome. Just email us today.

Did you know that Sitka actually had two ‘unofficial’ AFRS stations broadcasting at the same time? GAB and KRB both found space along the dial during 1941 to air their music and local news and events.

RefLocationCall SignYear on airFrequency
1 Adak WXLB 900
2 Adak AFRS 570
3 Amchitka WXLK 980
4 Anchorage [Fort Richardson] WVUG 1450
5 Attu [Camp Earle] WXLL 980
6 Attu [Fort Greely] WXLL 980
7 Campion AFRS 570
8 Cape Lisburne AFRS 1570
9 Cape Prince of Wales AFRS 1550
10 Cape Romanzoff AFRS 1590
11 Cold Bay [Fort Randall] WXLJ 1400
12 Dutch Harbor WXLC 980
13 Eilson AFRS 790
14 Elmendorf AFRS 850
15 Fire Island AFRS 1550
16 Fort Nelson MAB 1000
17 Indian Mountain AFRS 1550
18 King Salmon AFRS 790
19 Kiska KSKA 1943
20 Kiska WXLT
21 Kodiak KODK 1941
22 Kodiak WVCQ 1400
23 Kodiak WVCQ 960
24 Ladd AFRS 620
25 Nevenham AFRS 1550
26 Nome WXLN 1400
27 Nome AFRS 590
28 North East Cape AFRS 1570
29 Shemya WXLO 900
30 Sitka GAB 1941
31 Sitka GIN 1941
32 Sitka [Fort Ray] KRAY 1942
33 Sitka KRB 1941
34 Sitka [Fort Ray] WVCX 1942
35 Sparrevohn AFRS 1550
36 Umnak WXLA 800
37 Whittier WXLW 1490
38 Whittier ALAW 980
39 Wildwood AFRS 1520
Pfc Don Purvis spins the hits at WVUG 1450 AM, Fort Richardson [Anchorage] in 1948.
© Don Purvis Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation.

Yankee Doodle Went to Sitka
Riding on a halftrack
First there was no radio
And boy was he a sad sack

Lots of pockets full of dough
Playing cards with marked decks
But now he does his listening

From the AFRS program ‘Salute to WVCX’ broadcast on August 16 1944 over WVCX Sitka.

Brass Button Broadcasters: A Lighhearted Look at 50 Years of Military Broadcasting

In 2020 Sid Sirulnick wrote to us:

I was the Station Manager & Jazz DJ for this AFRS radio station at Campion AFB (Alaska) from roughly August 1954-April 1956.

For some random reason, I decided to do a Google search for “AFRS Campion” about 30 minutes ago, & I was directed to your site. Wow!!

Except for the day I flew into the base, & the day I flew home in prep for discharge, I lived underground the entire time. Somewhere I have photos of our quite nice, modern station.

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  1. The American novelist Cormac McCarthy (real name Charles Joseph McCarthy Jr) always said he was a radio announcer in 1955-56 while stationed with the Air Force in Fairbanks. Does anyone have any information about whether he worked with KFAR radio then? Was KFAR still affiliated with the American Forces Network in in 1955?