Far East Network QSL postcard, c. 1955.

1950sAmusements & RecreationsOccupation EraTechnology
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“8-10 On Your Dial, Far East Network, Tokyo.” Far East Network QSL postcard displaying the locations of the five main networked AFRS stations in Japan, c. 1955: Sapporo, Hachinohe, Sendai, Tokyo (where operations were headquartered), and Fukuoka. A “QSL” card is written confirmation of receiving the signal of a distant broadcasting station from outside its usual signal contour, e.g. the reception of a Japanese AM radio signal by a listener within the Continental United States. Upon receiving a notification of a reception, a radio station engineer would confirm the day, the time, the broadcast frequency, and (sometimes) the program content for the benefit of the hobbyist DX listener by returning to them a “QSL” card. (“QSL” was derived from the Q code for a statement or a question – in this case “I confirm receipt of your reception”)

See also:
Gojira (“Godzilla”) origin, 1947.
JOAK (NHK) Radio Building, Tokyo, c. 1948.

“The Far East Network had its beginning as the colloquially-named ‘Jungle Network’, based in Hollandia, Netherlands New Guinea, and ‘Mosquito Network’, based in the Solomon Islands, a loose group of (ironically) non-networked American Forces Radio Service (AFRS) mobile transmitters that would then move and be headquartered in newly-liberated Manila, Philippines, in March 1945, where they officially acquired the name ‘Far East Network’. Mobile AFRS detachments from Manila followed quickly on the heels of SCAP General Douglas MacArthur’s arrival in Japan at Atsugi on August 30, 1945 to begin the first radio broadcasts from Occupied Japan (1945-1952) beginning September 1 from locations in Fukuoka and Kure. The first permanent AFRS studio of the Occupation was established on September 11, 1945 in the Osaka JOBK studios of NHK, Japan’s national broadcasting corporation.

“The first use within Japan of the term ‘Far East Network’ was made on September 21, 1945 from radio station WVTR in Tokyo. (American-operated radio stations in Japan throughout the Occupation were assigned US-centric radio station call-letters.) Broadcast studios and short- and medium-wave transmitting equipment had been seized (later leased) from the former Radio Japan, Tokyo, including the studios that had been used for ‘Tokyo Rose’ broadcasts. The Far East Network (FEN) thus began formal operations at Radio Japan’s former shortwave facilities and offices of the NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corp.) building near SCAP HQ in downtown Tokyo.

“In 1947, sixteen radio stations (mostly located in Japan) comprised the Far East Network: WVTR Tokyo; WVTQ Osaka; WLKH Kokura; WLKD Sapporo; WLKE Sendai; WLKI Fukuoka; WLKA Kanoya; WXLH Okinawa; WVTX Iwo Jima; WVTM Manila, Philippines; WVTG Guam; WVTF Saipan; WVTP Seoul, Korea; WLKJ Chonju, Korea; WLKC Pusan, Korea; and AKAY Admiralty Islands. By early 1949, only eleven stations remained which identified themselves with and as ‘Far East Network’, whether in Japan, Korea, Okinawa, the Philippines, or the Marianna Islands, although the Korea-based signals would soon be operated separately by the Korea Military Advisory Group (MAG) command beginning in June 1949.

“Nine stations comprised the Far East Network in Japan by the end of the Occupation in 1952. Most of these were on-the-air 18 hours a day, seven days a week. Of the 126 hours of programming provided each week, almost exactly 50% was produced locally by the FEN Production Department in Tokyo or by the individual local station staff; the remaining half being packaged shows transcribed from AFRS Los Angeles.

“In the mid-1950s, FEN Tokyo moved to new studios at South Camp Drake, with its transmitter site at nearby Momote Village housing area. So it was that FEN grew up, organized, and settled down to the less glamorous task of providing the best in English-language broadcast to American Forces Overseas, now ‘guests’ in a free and no-longer-occupied Japan, and of lending actual and moral support to sister AFRS outlets in Korea, Okinawa, and elsewhere.”

– Summarized from “A Brief History of the Far East Network”, by H. Jordan Roscoe, ca. 1961

Reverse: Far East Network QSL card, c. 1960. The expression “73’s” is coded shorthand for “best regards” or “my compliments”, devised for Morse code to save telegraphic “line time”.

“Most American radio station notoriously use any means to keep their audience awake, but the early morning ‘Yawn Patrol’ of a U.S. Armed Forces Far East Network outlet in northern Japan takes pride in how many times it managed to put one listener to sleep.

“The listener was a crying baby, whose mother, an Army wife, insisted by phone at 6:30 a.m. on several consecutive days that only the playing of ‘Wonderful One’ [an instrumental performed by Paul Weston] by 10,000-watt FEN Sendai (at Sendai, Japan) would restore peace and quiet to her household.

“… Headed by Army 2d Lt. Thomas Coulter (St. Paul, Minn.) as station manager, seven enlisted men with varied civilian experience in commercial radio have made FEN Sendai not only the second largest and one of the oldest but also one of the most popular network stations in Japan.

“While all FEN station draw freely on rebroadcast of America’s most popular radio programs, FEN Sendai draws equally freely on its own initiative as well.

“From 6 a.m. when the ‘Yawn Patrol’ signs on, until sign-off at midnight, the station sends out a blanket of local ‘live’ shows. This includes area news, music of all tempos, feature interviews, weather forecasts, announcements of local events, request programs, and a weekly ‘Community News Roundup’. Jusdging from the fan mail evoked by the latter program, its Hooper rating is even higher among Japanese listeners.

“Some 50 letters a week show up at the Sendai station from listeners in northern Japan and more distant points such as Hongkong, Alaska, California, and Alabama.”

“FEN Sendai”, The Pacific Stars & Stripes, March 15, 1953

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  1. Pingback: JOAK (NHK) Radio Building, Tokyo, c. 1948. | Old TokyoOld Tokyo

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