Taipei Air Station - 1966 - - - " What you have in the end are memories"......... Photo Courtesy of Richard Reesh.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Armed Forces Network Taiwan (AFNT)

Who listened to AFNT radio?   If your first language was English, you listened to AFNT on the AM Band at 560 kHz and/or one of AFNT's Shortwave broadcasts near 7.2 MHz in the early days, later FM broadcasts were added, from 3 transmitters around the island at different frequencies. 

Added to the English speaking public, were thousands of Taiwan citizens, who did not necessarily speak English, who listened to AFNT, broadcasting, American music and non-filtered news, although I believe the news was "recorded prior to broadcast", at times, and then aired 30 minutes later. It was easy to notice if you listened closely.  Of course there were times when the news was probably live.

It hit home one day about 10 years ago when a lady from Taiwan and I were driving down the highway in Hawaii.  It was a Saturday morning and the Oldies Radio station was playing song requests.  As one song began to play, my lady friend began to sing along with music, singing the words to the song.....  Who knew?

I asked how she knew the words.  She said, "We all listened to the US Army radio station".  I also correspond with a Taiwan gentleman who was a fan of AFNT, who recorded many of the shows and music over the years.  One could say, many local  people listened to hear spoken English, which helped them with pronunciation and grammar.  

More to AFNT than meets the eye, for sure!

Steve Bramham wrote to me a couple of months ago and sent me a number of photographs he took while working at the AFNT studios in Taipei.

Steve arrived in Taipei in January 1968, on his first overseas assignment, was assigned to Taipei Air Station where he resided in the barracks.  He began work at AFNT, which was then housed in the Sugar Building, located next door to the First Department Store in Ximen-ding (Ximen) area, the area many of us called the, Theater District.  Steve left Taiwan in May 1969, at the completion of his 15 month tour.

                                             The Sugar Building, gray building, on left side of this photo.


Steve wrote, "During my incoming orientation, I was told not to eat from the many street vendors because I could get food poisoning.  So, I dutifully ate only at Taipei Air Station, and,  got food poisoning!"

So,  I decided to try the street vendors since it couldn't be worse that what I had just gone through.  

My favorite meal was a simple dish with some type of meat and watercress, stir fried and seasoned.  I never did find out what that meat was, but there were not too many dogs and cats in the alley".

When I arrived at AFNT, our Officer-in-Charge, was Burt Schneider, seen below.



                                                         LT Burt Schneider, US Navy

Our Non-Commissioned-Officer-in-Charge was George Beck, and our Program Director was Mr. Joe Brooks.

Very soon after my arrival, the staff was told that we would be moving to a mountain top facility (Yangmingshan) probably because of a fire in the Sugar Building.  This new facility was a very nice, however, it was not very close to Taipei Air Station.  

This created a situation where the Air Force did not want to provide transportation from Taipei Air Station to the new AFNT facility because the radio station was operated by the US Navy even though we had Army, Navy and Air Force personnel working there.  The Navy did not want to provide transportation since I was Air Force.  

The Air Force solved the problem by authorizing Separate Rations and Quarters Allowance and I had to provide my own transportation to the AFNT Studios. Anyone recognize this pathway in Yangmingshan Park?


Looks like Cherry Blossoms beginning to bloom. Anyone recognize this pathway? 





Most of the Enlisted Staff stayed at a Yangmingshan Hostel.  The rooms were small, but adequate and the best feature was the hot sulfur springs baths. 




Yangmingshan Hostel Room 1968-1969. 


One of the Hot Sulfur Spring Baths at Steve's Yangmingshan Hostel.  After a day or night at work it was very relaxing to sit in these baths and let your troubles soak away. 

 (Steve thought this photo is one of the Army men who resided in the Hostel enjoying the Spring Bath) 


"We had an  extensive library of old-time radio programs and sometimes some of the staff would get food and drink and sit in the library listening to, The Shadow, Gunsmoke, and other old radio programs.  

 The "Library".  

This was a "new guy" and he was picking music records for his "On-Air-Shift." We had both music records and records of Old Time Radio programs.  

The best of the Old Time programs were:

Gunsmoke - 


and, The Shadow -

Here's an old-time "Shadow" Radio show on Youtube:
 
I don't remember who came up with the idea, but during the summer months we would do a remote broadcast from the swimming pool used by military personnel and their families.  That was a great assignment.


Here a staff announcer preparing for a Remote Broadcast.

A short technical note for those interested.  We had several VHF FM radios we used for remote pickup stations to do broadcasts from the swimming pool and church services downtown.  These all operated on frequencies within the FM broadcast band, so when we were doing a remote, you could listen to the main broadcast frequency or the remote pickup frequency.  

Another technical note was when I took my first visit to our main shortwave transmitter location.   Even though our FM broadcast came from our location on Yangmingshan Mountain, we had two shortwave frequencies and being an amateur radio operator, I noticed that one was right in the middle of the 80-meter amateur radio band and the other was right in the middle of the 4-meter band.  The antenna were huge rhombic arrays.

I was assigned additional duty as relief engineer when the local Taiwanese engineers were not available, as I had worked in broadcasting for a number of years prior to this assignment and held an FCC Radiotelephone First Class License.

When AFNT decided to go into FM Programming, they were unable to get funding to procure FM transmitter equipment.  However, there was an abundance of funds available for maintenance of all AFNT equipment.

Where there is a will, there is a way....

AFNT went to Gates Radio and purchased a maintenance manual for repairing Gates FM Transmitter equipment.

When the manual arrived in Taipei, it was given to the AFNT Maintenance Department, instructing them to study the manual and to build an FM Transmitter from parts."

 
This may be the Chief Engineer at AFNT 

On the left, equipment racks containing multiple shortwave radio receivers that were used to pick-up AFRTS news feeds and other programming to be used "On the Air".  On the right side of the photo,  AFNT's FM Transmitter.


A local technician adjusting the FM Transmitter


"Our new FM broadcasting originated from our studio's at Grass Mountain."


 The array of teletype machines at AFNT
Associated Press (AP), Armed Forces Radio & Television Service (AFRTS), United Press International (UPI), not sure about the 4th teletype..


This was part of our library.

Here you could listen to tapes, you could erase tapes no longer needed.  Note the three bulk tape erasers sitting on the table next to the two tape decks. There is multi-band radio siting on the table on the right side of this photo.




Not Steve, another Air Force staff member.

Steve remembered that this man lived in the Yangmingshan Hostel, as did most of the AFNT enlisted crew, does not remember his name.


Steve thinks this may be George Beck, but was not sure.


 Another announcer relaxing in one of the studios, Steve does not remember his name.  

Steve said, "The Evening and Night Shift crew were permitted to wear civilian clothes". 



I'm guessing this was Keelung area, looks like docks on upper left.


Anyone recognize this area, some where up the coast.


Someplace along the coast. 



I believe this may have been taken from the Radar Site at Shihmen.



Along the road toward Keelung?



Fishing boat small harbor along the highway.






"Got-cha"  
The pedicab drivers are always having their pictures taken. 



A hotel off in the distance? Who can read the Chinese on the roof?

 
Children, having fun in front of the Temple.

The following photographs were taken during a AFNT Remote Broadcast at Keelung Harbor, aboard the USS Providence CLG-7. The ship was the Flagship of Commander, 7th Fleet, home ported in Yokosuka, Japan.  




The tail code on the helicopter "VH" indicates the helo detachment aboard the USS Providence, was from Atsugi, Japan. When the ship leaves the Western Pacific, the helicopter unit aboard, returns to it's home in Japan.


Lot's of "brass"siting and standing around.

 This visit was probably a, "Flag Officer visit".

Many thanks to my friend John Quinn, helping me identify this ship and explaining how certain ship visits to foreign ports were handled.  Old traditions don't change for such important and significant visits.

There seems to be a lot to going on.  Can you find the "key" that identified the ship? 


 




Did you find the clue?

Let's look again at the Yangmingshan Hostels.

We know there were 3 Hostels up on the mountain. 


One of the Hostels on Yangmingshan.  Photo courtesy USTDC Blog.

I believe this was the Hostel where Steve resided with the Spring fed Hot Baths. 



This and following 2 Photos courtesy Alice Winans Circa 1952-1953

L to R:  Parks, Sam Jones and C.D. Lewis 

Guessing it was taken  outside their Yangmingshan Hostel.

This photo taken at one of the Yangmingshan Hostels that housed Officers 
These men were assigned to MAAG Taiwan in it's early years, 1952-53.

I believe these men were all WWII officers, and some had served in China.

Interestingly, it seems that a number of Officers who served in China, ended up in Taiwan in the early 1950s when MAAG Taiwan was formed.

I learned this from Alice Winans who corresponded with me for a few years prior to her death.

You can read about Alice's 13 months in Taiwan in this Taipei Air Station Blog.

On the right side of this Blog, go down to the Search box and type in Alice Winans.

A number of stories will come up pertaining to Alice and her adventures in Taipei in the early years of MAAG.  Alice was a civilian working for an American owned company in Taipei. 

 
Round Steak for Dinner tonight....

L to R  -  Alice Winans, Sam Jones and C.D. Lewis.
I'm sure Sam Jones would not show off tonight's steak dinner from Yangmingshan, if he didn't reside up there.

This photo must have been taken outside their Hostel, are they frying the steak or putting it on the BBQ?  In early 1950's not so many BBQ's...





L to R -  LTC C.D. Lewis and MAJ Sam Jones and don't overlook the Monkey!

Photo taken on Yangmingshan, in the area where US Officers were housed.

The concrete sidewalk looks new!
The building looks relatively new also.

Look straight back, between the men, Is that two story building possibly a Hostel?


There were 3 hostels in Yangmingshan, one of them must have housed Military Officers, but which one? in the early 1950s?

I hope someone has the answer, but considering that 1952 was 66 years ago, and the men in these old photos were older than their 20s, they would be in late 80s or into their 90s today.




Just where were the new AFNT Studios located?

I had never driven up to the new studios.

I asked for help on some of the Taiwan Facebook Pages..

Look what some folks provided to answer the question,  Where was AFNT's new home?



This photo and annotations courtesy of Rory O'Neil 


This Photo with annotations courtesy of Rory O'Neil 




This collage courtesy of and was assembled by Rory O'Neil.

Notice the radio station sign on right side of this photo, ICRT sign.

ICRT, took over the station and equipment immediately and begin broadcasting just after AFNT signed off and ceased operations in Taiwan on Midnight, April 15th, 1979.

Below, a piece from the ICRT web site.


"ICRT was born on April 16th 1979, after the break in diplomatic relations between Taipei and Washington.  From 1957 to 1979, the station’s predecessor, Armed Forces Network in Taiwan, served the needs of the US military then stationed on the island.  AFNT was sold to the Taiwan government for US$1 as the American troops pulled out.  Taipei International Community Cultural Foundation was established as a non-profit foundation to supervise the operations of this new radio station."

Click here for ICRT web page 

I want to thank Rory O"Neil for all the help and work he put into providing information and photographs, maps and taking time out of his day(s) to stitch a photograph together showing the Yangmingshan AFNT building.  Lot's of work and efforts went into putting these items together.

Before I close this story, I want to talk a little bit more about our radio station.

Best I can determine, the first US Military Voice in Taiwan was a shortwave and medium wave station.  

Medium wave is standard AM broadcasting,  560 on the AM band in Taipei.



 Here is their QSL card sent to a Shortwave listener.
BEC-27 - Voice of MAAG Taiwan. 

Here's the web site where I found this old QSL card.


Take a look at who signed the card.

Yes, Joe Brooks, Program Director.

Joe Brooks wore many hats in Taiwan.

He worked for the station when I was there in 1965-1968.

My favorite program was his Ghost Stories, I think it played on Friday nights.

If you really needed to know something about anything in Taiwan, Joe Brooks was the man to ask.

Joe was a great story teller, some of his newspaper articles were published in a book.

and, here is a site that might be of interest, AFNT Blogspot.

HERE

Nothing updated for a few years.

You can read more about AFNT on some of my previous stories.

Go down the right side of this page, there will be an empty box saying Search For;

Just type in the box   Joe Brooks and a number of stories will come up for you to read.

If you haven't read Joe Brooks book, you may be able to get a used copy, so many interesting articles inside, 209 pages.


Here's a link to Amazon.com page showing Joe's Book is still available, from $4.50

HERE
Think it's time to close this story up!

Too much to read already.

One last photo, from Steve.

You never know what might show-up inside a Taiwan store.

Here's Proof:


It's the Center-Fold way up on the wall.

Thanks for reading all the way to the end....

Sai-Gen.....



4 comments:

titojohn said...

Great article along with super photos. This brings back many fond memories of my tours in Taiwan. Thanks Kent!

新聞老鳥 said...

AFNT Farewell speach

Midnight, April 15th, 1979

Recorded and dictated by Chris Wang


Ladies and gentlemen, in just a few minutes at midnight tonight, The American Forces Network Taiwan will go off the air permanently.

For over 24 years, AFNT has been a source of music, entertainment, and information for the entire English-speaking population on Taiwan. This station has made it a consistant and whole-heart effort to bring you the highest quality of programming.

The credit for the success of AFNT is due entirely to the men and women of United States Navy, Army, and the Air Force who had served the station of the last quarter of the century and Chinese technicians who maintained the equipment.

We feel sure that all those who had worked at AFNT over the years would wish to express their sincere friendship and appreciation to you, the audience that has made this station possible. Although AFNT will cease to exist at mindight, Taiwan will still have a high-quality English language radio station broadcasting on the same frequencies.

Thanks to the effort of Mr. Howard Wilson of American Chamber of Commerce, The Government Information Office, The Coordination Council for The North American Affairs, The American Institute in Taiwan, and the United Stated military which has transferred AFNT's equipment without cost.

There will be a replacement for AFNT, The International Community Radio in Taipei, ICRT will begin broadcasting immediately after AFNT signs off. So stay tuned.

This is George Sling, director for the Navy Broadcasting Service, Detachment 41, The American Forces Network Taiwan speaking on behalf of the entire AFNT staff past and present. We wish you every good fortune, good health, and happiness in the future, good night.

向中華民國各位聽眾,祝福您健康,快樂,萬事如意。

titojohn said...

During the early 70s, AFNT DJ Dick Joslin broadcast the Time Machine program on Saturday nights. After AFNT was disestablished, the tapes were transferred to Far East Network Tokyo for rebroadcast on the FEN in Japan. This is one of the programs that originated on AFNT. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T54EZlZeEmM

新聞老鳥 said...

Thank you so much, Mr. Titojohn.

I was a college student at Chengchi University starting in October 1975. While there, I heard AFNT Radio for the first time because the station's broadcast signal could not reach my hometown of Kaohsiung. I spent many hours listening to music, especially jazz, which was my favorite.

It was during my senior year that the Carter administration announced that the US government was going to establish normal diplomatic relations with the PRC on January 1st, 1979. A few weeks later, I decided to record some of his favorite music from AFNT during those final days.


When I heard this sad news that day, I knew that AFNT would ceased to exist soon. Accordingly, I bought a small number of local-made, low-quality cassettes and started recording AFNT programs.


The programs I recorded were Mellow Rock and Jazz Album Countdown in FM.


Finally, the day AFNT signed off permanently had come. It was midnight, March 15th, 1979. As far back as I can remember, it was a cold, drizzling night. I sat in front of my study desk with a portable radio/cassette recorder waiting for the final moment.


As a matter of fact, for the last three weeks before that day all regular programs had disappeared gradually from AFNT and were replaced by soft background music because American military personnel including AFNT DJs had been withdrawing out of Taiwan at a steady speed.


However, the historical transitional moment has been recorded. Fourty years later I still feel shocked and can't help falling into a deep sentimental mood when I once again listen to how AFNT died and ICRT was born.


Can you imagine what was the first song ICRT aired? It was "Happy Together." For all these years, I always think it was such a big irony for Taiwan-America relations that time.


AFNT was and always is a very important part of my personal history. And so far as I know, it is also a vivid historical background of many people at my age.

Ever since AFNT was gone, I have been keeping serching and collecting a large number American Forces Radio programs on internet. Right now I have a huge collection of AFVN、AFKN、FEN、AFNT、AFN Europe.


Due to all these AFN audio archives, I won a champion in a 70's music trivia on a cruise ship last June.


Now, by virtue of your information, I add this one hour Time Machine program to my collection.


By the way, during October 1975 to March 1979, Time Machine was broadcasted at 0700 PM Monday through Friday right after one our Wolfman Jack show which was boradcasted from 0600 PM.


Good old time, good old memories.

Thank a lot to Mr. Mathieu and Mr. Titojohn