Thanks to the contributions by a number of former FEN
alums and friends, this account of the history of Teenagers On Parade continues to be
revised thanks to recent contributions.
While details vary from story to story, and at times
even contradict each other, a fairly clear history of the program has evolved. Your
continuing input is welcome. We still need your tapes (we can handle any format including
open reel-to-reel), pictures, newspaper clippings, or anything connected with Teenagers On
Parade or 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.
The Seeds Are Planted
Geoff Smith, one of the first dependent teens in Japan
after World War II during the Occupation, reports that his generation had a radio show
that aired each Saturday on JOAK (known to FEN listeners as WVTR) in the period
1948-1949. There were about 500 American teenagers in the Tokyo area going to Meguro or
Narimasu High School (1949 was the first class.). The music of the day - Glenn Miller, the
Dorseys etc. - provided much of the programming, but they did skits as well.
Bill McCain, Bob Davis, and Radio T-E-E-N circa 1958
It was the ingenuity of teenage military dependents in
the Tokyo Area - Green Park and Grant Heights in particular - that led to what would later
be known as Teenagers on Parade.
Bob Davis and Bill McCain originally cooked up the idea
for Radio T-E-E-N while on retreat near Fuji in the Summer of 1958. Bob and Bill were
living in Green Park at the time.
While many of us from the mid-sixties thought of the
studio located in the Grant Heights Teen Club as the place where the show was born, Kevin
Buey writes, "FEN did not build the studio at the Grant Heights Teen Club."
Originally, a studio built by Bill McCain across the
parking lot from the Teen Club - in a closet - in the Youth Activities building was home
to Radio T-E-E-N - a closed circuit operation that distributed its programming by
telephone wires. It was a simple design, according to Kevin: two turntables, a couple of
mixers, an amplifier and wires running 25 feet off the ground from the second floor to the
Teen Club, and then distributed by speakers in Teen Club building.
Dave Robertson, another Radio T-E-E-N and FEN alum,
credits Bill as "the brains of the operation."
Dave, a 1961 graduate of Narimasu High School, recalls
that Bill and his staff arranged to get promos from the record companies, representing
Radio T-E-E-N as "the only English language popular music station in Japan."
Dave admits it was a bit of an exaggeration but the record companies didn't seem to care.
They used printed letterhead to make things even more business like.
A stateside friend of Bill's at Billboard Magazine cut
out the "Top 100" page every week when it came out and air mailed it to Radio
T-E-E-N. Bob recalls an article in Billboard Magazine based on a press release Bill had
A year later in the summer of 1959 -- a year after the
idea for Radio T-E-E-N had first been born -- Bob Davis returned stateside, often
recording tapes for Bill so he'd have current music.
When the Grant Heights Teen Club was remodeled, a
studio was built there.
This early incarnation of Teenagers On Parade was not
broadcast over the air. Rather, when operations first began in the Youth Activities
Building, Bill "transmitted" his daily and Saturday programs not only across the
street in Grant Heights, but also to both the Camp Drake and Grant Heights swimming pools
(during the summer), the Momote Village Teen Club, the Pre-Teen Club, The Washington
Heights Teen Club, Craft Shop, BX, and Beauty Shop. This practice continued when the
studio was built in the Grant Heights Teen Club. Bill had somehow convinced the Air Force
to let Radio T-E-E-N use excess telephone lines to pipe the program around the area.
Mike Ragland, Stu Allen, Kevin Buey, and others hosted
the closed circuit programs on a nearly daily basis.
Cooper tells us that he also was a regular on Radio Teen. Milton wrote: "I
had a show broadcast from the Grant Heights Teen Club during my sophomore year at Narimasu
High School. My theme song was 'Quiet Village' and my radio name was 'The Mad Lad.'
We moved to Tachikawa the summer before my junior year and that was the end of my
Radio Teen career.
When he graduated from Narimasu High School in 1960,
Bill McCain, in his senior last will and testament, bequeathed "all my records and
radio equipment to the Far East Network so that they can go into the broadcasting
business." It served as a capstone to a contentious relationship between Radio
T-E-E-N and FEN. The management at FEN was not amused by the article in Billboard. Bob
Davis reports there was even a threat of shutting the operation down for a time. Bob notes
that if FEN had broadcast more than 30 minutes of rock and roll hits per week, there
wouldn't have been a market for what they were doing.
Fortunately, other teen pioneers took up the crusade
and were successful in facilitating an expansion of FEN's teen programming.
(For additional information about Radio T-E-E-N, and
especially the Grant Heights Teen Club, please visit Jazzbo's Dragon's Roar.)
Teenagers On Parade -- Yakota Style
Saundra "Sam" Cooper, known in 1960 as Sandy
Cooper, recalls Teenagers on Parade being done as a remote broadcast from the Yakota Teen
Club circa 1960. The producer was Airman James Connally. Connally
unsuccessfully auditioned to be a guest announcer on TOP, but Sam got the nod instead and
ended up joing Dave Robertson, the anchor of TOP at the time, for the Grant Heights
broadcasts. Sam's appearance was to have been a two week gig, but she was kept on
until she returned stateside in March 1962.
Teenagers On Parade From Grant Heights - Dave
Robertson circa 1960
Kevin Buey, son of one of the civilian program
directors for FEN and a host of Teenagers on Parade himself, recalls that the first over
the air broadcasts of a program titled Teenagers on Parade were hosted by military
personnel assigned to FEN studios at Camp Drake and aired live from the FEN studios at
Camp Drake on Saturday mornings.
According to Kevin, teens were invited to the studio
during the live broadcast. To accommodate that crowds that were generated, the program
moved to the Camp Drake Gym before finding its home at the renovated Grant Heights Teen
Dave Robertson also recalls the FEN Saturday morning
show originating live from the Grant Heights Teen Club. FEN staffers brought in the Air
Force band which played their version of popular songs -- not even similar to rock &
roll! The program also featured a Japanese guest band which played something akin to rock
& roll but didn't quite make the grade according to Dave. The guest bands alternated
appearances but one in particular came back week after week. They changed their name every
week so that FEN would keep letting them come back! They were always "Danny and the .
. . whatever's."
Obviously this format wasn't much of a hit. Dave was
upset by the whole deal and was bold enough to write a letter to the FEN chief complaining
about the format. The chief responded and set up an appointment with him.
Because he was working at Radio T-E-E-N at the time,
Dave represented himself as a rock & roll radio announcer. The chief bought it! Dave
was given the opportunity to do the show "his way" for two weeks -- if
successful, Dave would be asked to continue; if not, the chief graciously suggested Dave
should "get out of his radio station."
His first act as host was to dump the Air Force band
but keep the live format. He opened the show with "Hi Teenagers" and started
playing rock & roll records, most of the time borrowing them from Radio T-E-E-N.
Roy Goodwin was a part of the show as well running a
contest called the "mystery melody" where a record was played backwards and
listeners were invited to guess the name of the record.
With the first two shows a success, Dave gradually
eased out of the live format, got rid of the Japanese band and the "mystery
melody", and moved the show into the studio where it followed a basic TOP 20 music DJ
A "Teenagers On Parade Moment"
According to Jazzbo of the Dragon's Roar, one of
the most popular bands to appear on the live version of Teenagers On Parade were The Teen
Tops. All of the members of the band attended Narimasu High School. From 1958-60, they
played at all the school dances, and on at least one Saturday morning they played live on
FEN. Jazzbo describes the FEN show as "our American Bandstand," since there was
no American TV or rock radio.
Jazzbo recalls he and his friends making the bus trip
from Washington Heights to the live broadcasts from the Grant Heights Teen Club to see the
band. There were also dance contests with cash prizes.
The band cut an album titled, "Teen Tops On
Parade" for Universal Record Company in Tokyo. Their 45 hit single was a cover
version of "Little Star." While a connection between the album title and the
radio program Teenagers On Parade is speculative, it's nice to think that one influenced
Coming To You Live From Studio C of the Far East
"It's Teenagers on Parade..."
Over time, invited guests sat in on the show and did
teen news and played some records. Dave continued to anchor the show until mid 1963 when
he went home stateside. Two of the show's guest announcers, Ray Carrol and Pat Heath,
picked up the show after Dave left.
Pam Heath, also of Narimasu High School, joined for a
while and was replaced by Donna Temple.
Kevin did the program for a year or so, then left for
college in California and was replaced by Marty McCool. Marty was replaced by Stu Allen,
who was doing the show in 1965.
Voices in Time
A number of teens were heard during the years of the
show. So far, we know of the following:
1958 - Bill McCain and Bob Davis conceive the idea
for Radio T-E-E-N
1959 - Bill McCain builds the first Radio T-E-E-N
1959 - Dave Robertson, Roy Goodwin, Fred Todd, Steve
Oyen, Milton William Cooper on Radio T-E-E-N
1959 - 1960 Judith "Judy" Manley-Doyle
1960 - Saundra "Sam" Cooper (then known as
Sandy Cooper), becomes the first host of TBA. She will go on to work with Dave
Robertson on the remotes from Grant Heights until her return stateside in March 1962
1960 - 1963 - Dave Robertson and Roy Goodwin host TOP
1962 & 1963 - Ray Carrol, Pat Heath, Donna
Temple, Sandy Green also host TOP
1963 - Kevin Buey hosts TOP
1964 - Marty McCool hosts TOP
1965 - Stu Allen hosts TOP
1965 - 1966 Chris Bergstead hosts TOP
1966 - Paul Shefield hosts TOP
1966 - 1967 Jim Grubbs hosts TOP
1966 - 1968 Suzanne Stevens hosts TOP
1967 - 1968 Tim Snider hosts TOP
1968 - 1969 Kay Nishioka hosts TSD
During 1965 / 1966, TOP was produced and engineered by
Airman Wayne Lewis of "Fun Dial" fame. The 1966 / 1967 school year was produced
and engineered by his "Fun Dial" cohort, Navy Journalist Craig Smith. Both of
them were absolutely super guys.
Teenagers On Parade Canceled circa 1968
In 1968, "Teenagers on Parade" was replaced
by "The Teen Scene Discotheque" hosted by Airman Gary Griffin. Jim Grubbs
returned during a visit from school in summer 1968 and appeared on the show which was
broadcast live and on location. Jim recalls a show from the pool at South Camp Drake along
with a band called "The Green Apples" featuring none other than Severin (we knew
him as Ed then) Browne. Severin now has three albums to his credit. Severine is the
brother of Jackson Browne.
Kay Nishioka was Miss Teen Scene during the summer 1968
Meanwhile Back at the Grant Heights Teen Club circa
By 1963, Teenagers On Parade,with teens hosting the
show, had become a staple of FEN programming. Unfortunately, at the show's birth place,
things weren't going well.
When a snack bar was opened in the Grant Heights Teen
Club in 1963, a cut was made through the station's soundproof wall to install a door,
while blocking the access Radio T-E-E-N personnel previously had at the back of the
In early 1964, an effort was made to restore and update
Radio T-E-E-N. New equipment and wiring were installed but unfortunately a military SNAFU
derailed the project.
By 1965, a fire that burned the Youth Activities
Building next door to the ground, destroyed prized oldies. Other records had been given
away by an errant director.
By the time I arrived in 1965, only the
remnants of the Radio T-E-E-N studio remained, but the room was still there with the sound
equipment for the public address system.
Is It Live Or Is It Scotch 101?
There are two versions of how Teenagers On Parade moved
from being a live show to a recorded show.
Kevin Buey, who had an inside track when the practice
first began, says that FEN began taping Teenagers On Parade after Dave Robertson and
Goodwin left because it was easier than doing a live remote. At that time, it had nothing
to do with being afraid of what the announcers might say on the air. Kevin adds that there
were lots of Saturday football games in those days which limited the crowds at the live
I recall watching a number of Chofu
Varsity football games from the sidelines on Saturday mornings with a camera in hand to
record the action for the school newspaper while listening to a transistor radio plugged
into my ear while our taped Teenagers On Parade show ran at 11:05.
By 1966, it does seem likely that the military in
general had tightened security in response to the increase in civil protest, especially by
youth. The story goes that the brass at FEN was "nervous" about having the teens
in complete control of Teenagers On Parade during the "radical 60s." To ensure
that nothing unruly happened, the show was pre-taped, generally on Friday afternoons prior
to Saturday morning broadcast.
During the same period, efforts were made by AFRTS
Headquarters to control the distribution of music to all affiliates. The 16 inch
transcription disc had long been used to distribute programming and became the preferred
way of distributing new music releases that were officially sanctioned. While there was an
efficiency in distributing music this way to so many stations, it was also clear that
control of what reached the affiliates was a significant factor.
By 1966 when I began my affiliation with
FEN, it was rare that we played anything not included on an official transcription disc.
In a few cases, 45s were purchased on the local economy in order to get a late breaking
TOP 40 hit on the air a bit quicker, but generally only after a check with AFRTS
headquarters to receive their assurance that the song was "on the way" just not
pressed yet. "Last Train To Clarksville" is one of the 45s that comes to mind.
At one point in 1967, even Fun Dial, the mid-afternoon
and evening TOP 40 show hosted exclusively by military personnel, was subjected to the
same limitations. Some of the remarks and music were considered subversive and
inappropriate for airing on FEN.
But like so many things, this too came full circle. In
1968, Teenagers On Parade was replaced with The Teen Scene Discotheque which, during the
summer, originated live from the swimming pool at Camp Drake, included live band
performances, and a teen audience.
An official FEN schedule for the period August through
October 1971 does not list TOP or one of its clones. The 1105 time slot was
filled by the Johnnie Darin show -- a TOP 40 AFRTS packed program.
The schedule shows that from 1215 to 1400 (minus 5
minutes for news at 1300), "Record Rap" filled the airwaves. It is
described as an FEN produced TOP 40 show that was usually done "on location" and
hosted by two FEN DJs.
Before Fundial There Were "Teen Beat on the
Air" and Other Programs
In the early 1960s, there was a mid-afternoon program
called TBA - To Be Announced. Saundra "Sam" Cooper, then known as Sandy
Cooper, the very first TBA announcer, recalls that a contest was held for weeks to pick a
more fitting name. Many of the letters came from Japanese listeners. In the
end, TBA was retained but modified to mean Teen Beat On The Air. Sam credits their
engineer, Sergeant Carl Estebrook for coming up with the new title. Airman James
Connally produced TBA cira 1960
Circa 1962, Dave Robertson also produced and sometimes
announced a Saturday night show called Top 20, usually borrowing records from Radio
FEN also had an interview program called Koffee Klatsch
which featured interviews with personalities visiting Japan. When rock & rollers came,
they let Dave Robertson do the on air interviews. He interviewed Bobby Vee, the Ventures,
Brian Hyland, Chubby Checker, ate lunch with Neil Sedaka, and actually drank a few beers
with the Kingston Trio!
Our thanks to Saundra "Sam" Cooper, Dave
Robertson, Kevin Buey, Ray Carrol, Geoff Smith, Bob Davis, and Jazzbo for their valuable
contributions to this revised account of teen programs on FEN.
We have evidence of other teen programs dating well
back into the 1950s. We're still working on gathering details to share with you.