FEN Iwakuni

1575 kHz - 1000 watts

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Attendees at a 1962 FEN "feast" hosted at Iwakuni&'s large studio. Click on the picture to enlarge.  Note goodies spread out on pool table. John Hazlet, who provided the picture, offers his apologies for names forgotten or screwed up.  He notes that nearly 40 years has dimmed his memory in some cases (don't feel all alone, John -- jg).

Left to right --

Top row in front of cabinet: [JN studio engineer, don't remember name]; Navy JN Roger Penn

Next row down: In front of pool cues, Marine GySgt Arne Hokans; partly hidden, Marine PFC Al Orr; under Penn, AF Sgt Bill Fink; to his right, holding something over Mrs. Yamada's head, JN studio engineer Kosako-san (who was a great joker); head sticking up just below the "F" on the wall, [can't remember his name]

Front row: JN studio engineer [I think] Kamide-san; then two JN engineers I don't recognize (they may have been xmtr guys); the third guy in the white shirt is Shigeru Yoneda, who was exceptionally sharp and the first FEN JN chief engineer. To his right, Mrs. Yamada, the head secretary; [unknown JN secretary or spouse]; barely visible in back row, a xmtr engineer we all called Papa-san [didn't know his real name]; to his right, Tatsuko Horiguchi, the JN record librarian; next is (I think) GySgt Blum's wife; then Marine GySgt Leroy Blum, Navy JN Marv Coyner, just behind him Marine PFC Hal Butts, and at extreme right Marine Sgt Dick Wedel.

Our thanks to John Hazlet for this information and pictures from Iwakuni circa 1962.

John worked as a DJ and engineer at a LA-area FM station prior to joining the Marine Corps in 1961 at age 18.

After a series of events that almost led to spending his military career as a typist, John ended up reporting for duty to FEN Commanding Officer, Captain Jerry Chene, with, as John describes it, "an incredibly convoluted chain of command that went from Iwakuni to Tokyo to Fleet Marine Force Pacific."

At that time, Iwakuni's programming was "mostly DJ shows for local programming, with a remote of the church service on Sunday and occasional other interesting stuff," Hazlet explains. "We produced several programs for network airing, including a rather elaborate program with commentary featuring Handel's "Messiah" just before Christmas. As I recall, we used the Huddersfield Choral Society performance (which we had in the library), I did some research at the base library for the notes, and we recorded the commentary at about 0300 in the Block 8 (a big barracks) shower -- which featured about 5-second reverberant acoustics (once we stopped the dripping faucets), using Marine PFC Hal Butts (normally the jazz specialist) who had a suitably solemn delivery."

TV was just becoming part of FEN -- with Chitose the first FEN affiliate to get it.

Iwakuni was on 1580 KCS or (kilocycles per second -- kHz -- or "kilohertz" these days, of course). There were also two 10-KW short-wave stations in Tokyo, one apparently aimed across the Asian continent and into Russia, and the other out to sea for U.S. Navy ships in the Pacific.

Getting current music to play was a challenge. AFRTS was usually about 45 days behind the Billboard Music Weekly Top 40. Staff resorted to all kinds of shenanigans, some of which probably weren't quite on the up and up -- taping stuff off of short-wave (which gave lousy quality almost all the time), dependent kids sneaking their latest 45-RPM discs from the states in through the back door of the station at night (we had one turntable in the library which would run at 45 RPM) so they could be taped for use on the air.

On a humorous note, John recalls the first time he heard the Beatles: "I can remember the assembled announcers gathered around the audition turntable in the record library, gravely listening to the Beatles' first record, and deciding it wasn't going anywhere. We left it out of the rock and roll shows for a couple of weeks -- until we were rudely awakened by their meteoric rise up the Billboard charts.

After his tour at Iwakuni, John was transferred to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, where he was assigned to the Information Service Office radio recording studio. They did Fleet Home Town News interviews of recruits, and a public service show that aired on KCBQ [a classic 60s and 70s TOP 40 station] on Sunday nights. And the typing thing came back to haunt him as he was eventually assigned to the base newspaper as well (typing 100 WPM before it was over) -- John was doing both jobs when he got an "early out" for education in August of 1964.

In civilian life, John worked as a DJ at KAPP-FM in Redondo Beach for a while, while attending Long Beach State College -- but got bit by the aviation bug, quit school, and got a job so he could afford flying lessons. He now has 35 years in the aviation business, flying everything from tiny homebuilts and WW II single-seat fighters to four-engine jet transports, including a 24-year stint as Chief Instructor for Pasadena City College's aviation program. John is currently VP-Maintenance and Director of Operations for a cargo airline that operates 180+ airplanes all over the conterminous U.S. and into Alaska, Canada, and Mexico.

Click on any of the thumbnail pictures below to see the full-sized image. You will need to use your browser's "back" button to return to this page. John provided the captions for his pictures.



Large studio at FEN Iwakuni looking toward Control Room A (Control B is through the window visible inside Control A). Note the soundproof doors.


Control Room B. I think that's an RCA 76B5 console and a Western Electric 639B mic (not sure I remember the numbers right). There were three turntables (one with a record cutter, seen in another photo) and an Ampex 350 tape recorder in this control room.


Iwakuni Record Library. Catalog is at upper center, with announcers' bins below.


Iwakuni master control. Equipment at lower right is a 2-receiver short-wave diversity setup (looks like Collins R-390s) for receiving SW broadcasts from VOA Delano (live baseball feeds, etc.), which we ran up the net to Tokyo, where they selected the signal that was best from everything they had coming in on the network. Meters at upper left showed in and out network lines, etc. Main patch panel is below. Center rack holds a compression amplifier and some proof-of-performance test equipment.


FEN Iwakuni transmitters. There were two 1-KW Gates units (TX-1 is barely visible at the left, with switching and transfer gear in the center racks (one unit being out for test). These transmitters were in a building about 1/4 mile from the studio, with the antenna sticking up in the base golf course (as I recall). The transmitters were manned 24 hours per day by Japanese National engineers. We were told the two transmitters came from "Vagabond" stations used during the Korean war.


John Hazlet (a Marine PFC at the time, notwithstanding the civilian clothes -- sometimes allowed late at night), doing a DJ show in Control Room A. Note the Altec 250 console and RCA 77DX mic. Three turntables and an Ampex 350 tape deck. This was the main production control room.


An RCA record cutter, on Turntable 3 in Control Room B. This was used to make electrical transcriptions (what ET used to stand for!), which we used instead of cartridges for repetitive stuff -- jingles, etc. You'd cut about ten tracks on a 16-inch ET, and as each track wore out, put a grease pencil mark across it and go to the next one. After you wore out the whole disc, you could run it under hot water, loosen the plastic coating, and have a neat, 16-inch circle of aluminum -- useful for turntable dust covers and any number of other things.


A standard turntable. I forget the manufacturer -- maybe it was RCA. Two speed, with a giant motor and transmission down in the bottom of the base and a vibration isolator above that, with a huge spindle bearing upon which the turntable platter rotated. The large, "fork mount" Gray Research tone arm was for ETs and other large-groove stuff, and the viscous tamped tone arms were for microgroove records. The key switch at lower right selected the tone arm. Note the weight at the rear corner of the turntable at left, for flattening out warped records.


A workhorse Ampex 350 tape recorder (we had three of these, as I recall, one in each control room, and one in Master Control. There was also an antique Magnecord in there, which actually worked!


This photo shows a control room at FEN Itazuke. Ancient Western Electric 25 control console (WE built equipment that never wore out -- their excellence was rewarded by the "trust busters" forcing them to sell their broadcast equipment line to Altec and Langevin, to break up the "monopoly") -- note the power supply against the wall behind the turntable. Out of the picture to the left is a second Ampex 350 in a "home brew" cabinet.


RCA 77DX mic with an FEN ID board.


RCA 44BX mic with FEN ID board -- in perfect, virgin, undented condition -- probably a priceless antique now; we used it all the time.


High tech, for 1962 -- an Altec 21C condenser mic. You had to use a remote power supply with it, and there was a 12AX7 tube in the handle -- so it was warm and good like Mother, when it was operating. Very flat, wide range mic for its time.


FEN Iwakuni announcers at the Iwakuni E Club sometime in 1962. L to R: Navy Journalist Lon McCartt (back to camera); Navy Journalist Roger Penn (head partly obscured); Marine Gunnery Sergeant [I can't remember his name -- he was mostly an administrative guy at the station, as I recall]; Guy with his back to the camera in the dark plaid shirt's name also escapes me; extreme right, Marine PFC Hal Butts (I think he made LCpl while he was there).


Dage vidicon studio TV camera at FEN Chitose (at the time the FEN TV station was being commissioned there).


Rack of equipment at FEN Chitose. The stuff below the Ampex 350 is video amplifiers of some sort.


View of the town of Iwakuni from the Kintai Castle. Note the Kintai Bridge at the lower left. I think the Air Station was at the top of the picture, between the hills and the water.


The FEN Iwakuni antenna tower. If you look close, you can see various bends and dents from airborne objects hitting it during typhoons.

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