Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Armed Forces Radio Service, Los Angeles Branch Office
(Armed Forces Radio Service School)
Actress Eve Arden, assisted by an AFRS technician, recording a program (AFRTS).
A joint War and Navy Departments activity located at 6011 Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles. Although a joint activity, the Official History of the United States Army in World War II indicated that the AFRS's Los Angeles Branch Office (as well as its New York Branch Office) reported to the Army Service Forces Director of Personnel's Information and Education Division. Unofficially this activity was known as AFRS Hollywood.
AFRS had its origins in the War Department's quest to improve troop morale. This quest began with short-wave broadcasts of educational and information programs to troops in 1940. In 1941, the War Department began issuing "Buddy Kits" (B-Kits) to departing troops, which consisted of radios, 78 RPM records and electrical transcription discs of radio shows. However, with the entrance of the United States into World War II, the War Department decided that it needed to improve the quality and quantity of its offerings.
This began with the broadcasting of its own original variety programs. Command Performance was the first of these, produced for the first time on March 1, 1942. On May 26, 1942, the Armed Forces Radio Service was formally established. Originally, its programming comprised network radio shows with the commercials removed. However, it soon began producing original programming, such as Mail Call, G.I. Journal, Jubilee and GI Jive. At its peak in 1945, the Service produced around 20 hours of original programming each week. Many of the programs were recorded at commercial radio and recording studios located in the Los Angeles area.
AFRS unit members in front of the Los Angeles Branch Office (AFRTS).
After the war, the AFRS continued providing programming to troops in Europe. In addition, it also provided programming for future wars that the United States was involved in. It survives today as a component of the American Forces Network (AFN).
Armed Forces Radio Service School
Col. Thomas H. A. Lewis, AFRS founder and its first commander (AFRTS)
In addition to production activities, the AFRS Los Angeles Branch Office operated the AFRS School located nearby at 1421 North Western Avenue in Los Angeles. The 12 March 1945 issue of Broadcasting carried the following story about the curriculum of the AFRS School:
    AFRS Reorganizes Program School


Redesignation of the school program and broadcast school as the Armed Forces Radio Service School has been announced by Col. Thomas H. A. Lewis (AFRS founder and first commander) Commanding Officer, AFRS Hollywood. Setup was established last spring charged with familiarizing professional radio men, both program and technical, with methods of operating AFRS stations overseas. Change in the designation was made to streamline operation.
At the same time, it was an announced that AFRS, Hollywood, working in cooperation with hospitals handling overseas casualties, is blue-printing a service to bring round-the-clock entertainment to hospitalized veterans. This will extend into the postwar era of veterans rehabilitation. Plans call for earphones available for each bed.
Programs will be piped from a central control with the patient able to tune in as he chooses. Command Performance, Mail Call, and Personal Album will be included in the special transcribed units. Decommercialized versions of network shows, now shipped overseas, will not be utilized. Instead full programs will be taken from the nearest network stations and piped to the wards. Besides entertainment value, doctors say radio shows will aid in hastening recovery of the wounded.


Posted 11 October 2014

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Updated 23 June 2017