For Veterans Day tomorrow, NPR will present the documentary, "Radio in Vietnam," featuring recordings of a variety of sounds that filled the airwaves during the war years.
Transistor radios were in abundance, and soldiers had an abundance of stations to tune in to.
The U.S. Armed Forces Vietnam Network (AFVN), one official source for news and Top 40 music, broadcast programs designed to boost morale. On the other side was Radio Hanoi, also a source of popular music, but hardly a morale booster. Radio Hanoi employed female announcers and DJs, known collectively as "Hanoi Hannah," who broadcast to GIs much as "Tokyo Rose" and "Axis Annie" did in World War II.
The documentary also will feature interviews with veterans, journalists, military spokesmen and former AFVN DJs. Says one vet: "Far up in the highlands, we had transistor radios -- small ones -- and in the middle of the day, up near the DMZ, we could listen to Diana Ross and the Supremes. Guys used to take their rifle and hold it like a guitar ... while Jimi Hendrix was playing."
The program also marks the first time some pirate broadcasts -- from illegal FM transmitters that broadcast uncensored music and commentary -- have been heard outside Vietnam.
The documentary, narrated by NPR's John Hockenberry, will air on the second half-hour of "All Things Considered," at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow on WETA-FM (90.9) and at 7 p.m. on WAMU-FM (88.5).
For a trip back to the airwaves of not so long ago, this is one not to be missed.
Help for Drinkers
In conjunction with a 12-part series on alcohol abuse, "Thinking About Drinking," WAMU-FM is offering a free fact sheet covering local sources for help and treatment. The series airs Wednesday nights at 8, and is followed at 8:30 by a call-in show hosted by Mike Cuthbert and featuring local guests.
WETA, Bearing Up Nicely
A "Bearlioz" blitz helped WETA-FM to one of its most successful membership drives ever; the teddy bear, offered in return for a $45 contribution, turned out to be the most popular premium offered. The public station raised $271,655 in its eight-day drive that ended Nov. 1, receiving 4,637 pledges. Of that number, said spokeswoman Lisa Drescher, about half were new memberships.
It's that half that has the station excited, as money raised from new members -- as well as money from old members in excess of their last contribution -- is matched by the National Endowment for the Arts. WETA-FM and WETA-TV, Channel 26, recently received a $600,000 matching challenge grant from NEA, and the two stations will have to raise $1.8 million over the next three years to meet the challenge.
"We don't know exactly how much of that grant we'll get," said Drescher, "but we know TV will get more because of their higher production costs. It'll also take us a while to sort out how much 'new money' NEA will match as a result of this fundraiser. But we're very, very excited about it."
On the Birthday Beat
Birthday wishes go out to WMET-AM (1150) in Gaithersburg, which turned a year old on Saturday. And more birthday greetings, though slightly belated, to NPR's "Morning Edition," which turned eight on Thursday, and to "Weekend Edition," which is now two years old. Both birthdays were celebrated on the air, with "Morning Edition" featuring a "best-of" show, and "Weekend Edition" updating some stories from the past year.
Speaking of things belated, several winners of Achievement in Radio (AIR) awards were overlooked in the Oct. 27 column. WHUR-FM's (96.3) Linda Reynolds was named the best female on-air talent and WGMS-FM's (103.5) Paul Anthony the best male. The award for best news series was given to Ed Meyer and WMAL-AM's (630) "We Have Become a Nation." And Asher Benrubi, better known as "Adam Smasher" and now not heard at all on WWDC-FM (101.1), received the award for best local radio actor/comedian/character voice.
WGAY-FM (99.5) won an AIR for Jo Ellen Gray-Countee and Joan Henson's "Crime Prevention," as the best locally produced continuing public affairs program. And finally, WAGE-AM (1200) won for the best station-sponsored community event, the Jonathan Hancock Trust Fund.
Reelected at NPR
In other NPR news, Chairman Jack W. Mitchell, Vice Chairman Ward B. Chamberlin Jr. and President and Chief Executive Officer Douglas J. Bennet were all unanimously reelected to one-year terms.