All That Jazz!

Jazz Time Circa 1965

Ever since the days when Glenn Miller fought to bring swing music to the troops fighting in World War II, "modern music" has had a place in the schedules of AFRTS affiliates. FEN is no exception.

We know with certainty that jazz on FEN dates back to 1951 when our own contributor to this site, Merwin Smith presented "Time For Jazz."

While rock and roll is often still viewed with disdain by military programmers, modern jazz seems to have fared a bit better.

The Best of Hoyle

The edition of Jazz Time presented here features the mellow pipes of Airman Burr Hoyle -- a voice perfectly "cool" and suited to the music that was the star of the show. Burr mixes a little musical history into his commentary as he explores the range of jazz virtuosos from Jerry Mulligan, Stan Getz, Wes Montgomery on guitar, Clifford Brown on trumpet, and vocalists Mel Torme, June Christie, and the Four Freshmen

In The Midnight Hour

Even though some jazz made its way into mainstream programming at FEN, the time set aside specifically for the genre was midnight on Saturday night. Like rock and roll, jazz was still considered "not quite ready for prime time." Although, you can argue that jazzmen have traditionally preferred the wee hours of the morning and so the midnight slot wasn't a reflection on the importance of the genre. Leo Cheers, a St. Louis radio legend, has hosted an overnight jazz show for more than three decades. And it's always had a loyal following.

Unfortunately, the air date information for this program is not available, but given the surrounding evidence, it appears to be from 1965.

Technical Info

This recording was made from the original master on-air copy of the program recorded on a 10.5 inch reel of Scotch 111. It was recorded at 7.5 IPS so that the full 55 minutes of the program would fit on a single reel

Time has not been kind to these tapes. While not particularly brittle, the outer portion of the tape has become badly warped making it difficult to keep solid contact with the playback head on the tape machine. All in all though, they are in amazingly good quality with the full fidelity still present in much of the recording.

Though not particularly evident in this RealAudio files, you can even hear the surface noise and scratches on the transcription disks that contained the original music and some of the features distributed from AFRTS headquarters. Perhaps if you think of the anomalies you'll hear as the fading ever present in a short-wave broadcast, the effect will add rather than detract from your listening pleasure.

Found Treasures - Our Thanks to Norm Medland!

Much of the material on this site I like to think of as "found treasures" and these air checks fit that description well. Though there are exceptions, many of us didn't particularly think that we were making history during our stint at FEN. We often recorded our shows for later playback and analysis, or perhaps just to have the music, but then erased them just as quickly when something new caught our fancy.

In the 1960s, owning a tape recorder of any kind was the exception rather than the rule. The cassette format and even the nostalgic 8-track tape were still years away. We lucky ones saved our pennies and purchased reel-to-reel tape recorders. Living in Japan and having access to a variety of electronics through the local base exchange and Tokyo's Aki Habara made it a little easier to afford.

And just as blank VHS video tapes originally cost more than $20.00 USD each when they were first introduced, blank recording tape commanded a premium price. So we used and reused tapes. Those of us in radio gladly took donations from the station when old tapes were discarded. That was the fate of these masters of Tokyo Calling.

Norm Medland, an FEN staffer from the mid 60s recalls that there were a stack of tapes that had been deemed past their useful prime. FEN folk would take the big reels home and cut them up into smaller size reels that would fit consumer machines. We are fortunate that before Norm had a need to do this, Norm went through a PCS and the tapes got boxed up and sent off to storage, only to be rediscovered years later when he no longer had anything to listen to them on. He has generously offered to share these treasures with the rest of us.

What treasures do you have stowed away?

We still need your tapes (we can handle any format including open reel-to-reel), pictures, newspaper clippings, or anything connected with FEN in general -- from any period of the network's rich history and from any of the studio locations. All materials will be returned to you and handled with extreme care while we have them. Address your comments to the webmaster.


This page last modified on Friday, 30-Jul-2004 17:47:26 EDT



dec-bot.GIF (563 bytes)

Valid HTML 4.01!