Webmaster's Log

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September 9 2002

Fellow FENers--

A little story to start out this first edition of the "webmaster's log."  My introduction to the Tokyo studios was a memorable one.  After having recorded my first show, I was killing time hanging out in the automation room until time for the base bus to come by.  All was going smoothly as programming swept through the 1800 to 1830 period -- that is, until the automation got to the network and local IDs shortly after 1829.

It only took approxinately 90 seconds for the automation to kick in all of the programming that had been set up to run through the overnight hours.  I now know that apparently the "silence sensor" had gone beserk, so the automation dutifully kept clicking through the "next source."

The gentlemen keeping the log, maintained his cool, entering into the official log:  1829:25 -- ALL HELL BROKE LOSE!

It was an event I'll never forget...

This first edition of the log is being written on a day very special to me.  Today would have been my father's 82nd birthday.  While he was "dad" to me, the rest of the world knew him as Col. Jim Grubbs of HQ 5AF and later, Director, of Logistics, Far East Communication Region during my time at FEN circa 1966.   While never an AFRS guy, he was always a communication person, first as an enlisted man in World War II serving as a radio operator/tail gunner in the New Guinea area, and later as an officer, finally retiring as IG for GEEIA.  I caught his radio bug early on -- he was a long time amateur radio operator (KA2JG in Tokyo, KR6EN in Okinawa, and a plethora of other callsigns around the world -- usually operating in "portable" mode).  But our family connection to "ham" radio is a tale for another time.

Summer 2002 was quite a time for me both personally and professionally.  While I have been a full-time faculty member at the University of Illinois at Springfield for three years now, over the summer I made the transfer to a full-time position exclusively in the UIS Communication Program.  Officially, my position is in "new technologies."  In actual practice, that means everything from mass communication theory, to multi-media production, to practical courses like broadcast programming and management.  I am thrilled with the new assignment.   It feels like at last I am where I was destined to be when I started my late life education in 1989.

Among the highlights of summer 2002 was a memorable time at the Illinois Broadcasters Association annual convention held this year in Peoria, Illinois.  Larry Lujack and Bill Murray were honored and inducted into the hall of fame.  On a more personal note, Bill Murray got a kick out of my story about dad's ROTC unit modelling a drill on the one from "Stripes."  And a young man's fantasy came true as I got to shake the hand of legend Larry Lujack, chat with him for a short while, and even get him to autography my copy of his book "Superjock."    I have pictures :-)  Just ask!

And there was another special moment at the convention when Hayward Talley of WSMI, Litchfield, Illinois was honored as Illinois Broadcaster of the Year.  Hayward was my mentor back in the days when I was fresh from FEN and a brash and not always very appreciative employee.  Hayward has perfected a formula for small market radio that has kept the Clear Channel and Infinity folks away from feeding at his doorstep.  Sometimes a little corny, sometimes a "throw back" to radio's earlier days, but always a professional.  What a thrill to be able to help him celebrate his well-deserved recognition.

And when your dinner companions include John Records Landecker and the whole morning crew from WJMK Chicago, it's easy to believe you've died and gone to heaven!

Summer was also a period of intense research and academic writing for me.  Part of the research involved a trip to the Stars & Stripes Museum in Bloomfield, Missouri.  What an amazing thing it is to actually hold in your hands issues of PSS dating back to just before the Japanese surrender.   I hardly had a chance to scratch the surface of the collection during my short stay there.  Needless to say, I'll be going back again.  Some of the new features on the site are the direct result of items located at the museum.

Regular web site visitors know that it's been a long time (about a year) since any significant updates or additions have been made.  The demands of my academic life just haven't allowed much time for my hobby -- this website -- a project near and dear to me.

I've been looking for ways to more closely tie my personal interest in FEN and AFRS history to my scholarly work and have a number of projects in the works I'll be telling you about in the time ahead.  For example, I'm currently researching the woman known by the World War II and Korean troops as "G.I. Jill" (actually a wonderful woman by the name of Martha Wilkerson) who single-handedly accounted for more than one-quarter of all the mail sent to AFRS during the wars!  There are fascinating side-stories as well, including Jean Ruth (known on the air as Beverly -- as in "Reveille with Beverly")  Beverly hosted several editions of "G.I. Jive" before the AFRS brass gave the job permanently to Martha.  I'll be posting more about the women of war time AFRS in later musings.

Finally, my sincere thanks and appreciation to the men and women that make this website possible.  It is your memories, your pictures, your tapes, your momentos that make this site what it is.  Your patience in seeing your contributions finally make it "on the air" is very much appreciated.

Until next time, my warmest wishes for all of the great men and women who continue to make FEN what it is.

Regards,

 

--Jim Grubbs,
   Far East Network, Tokyo 1966 - 1968

 


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