At AFN...The American Forces Network headquarters in the old castle...several imposing characters come to mind.
Since I was just 17 years of age...I was an impressionable guy...and these folks impressed me:
Ed Pennybacker, civilian news writer/editor who has NEVER been bested by anyone (including David Brinkley) in his news writing capabilities...in my opinion.
Ed taught me to be simple in my writing and never to write a sentence longer than five words! At NBC News Chicago in later years (1969-70) when writing tv news copy for Floyd Kalber, Jim Ruddle and John Dancy I utilized that technique. Except with Floyd you always had to insert the word “today” into the news copy...maybe every other line. He loved that word!
Ed was indeed...the greatest.
Johnny Vrotsos, civilian AFN the castle...best remembered for hosting the most listened too daily radio program in Europe:
MUSIC IN THE AIR
Hit the airwaves for an hour about 6 or 7P and it was great. Nick Clooney filled in a few times...I never was asked!
Johnny was one cool guy...everyone loved him!
Al Kasch...my “on the air hero”...a Sergeant back in 55-56 and a cool guy to listen to and learn from.
Don Cosgrove...another Sgt and a real professional.
Walter Sheppard...out of Boston and let you know it...classical music expert and had to help me desperately the one time I announced AFN’s classical show. How do you say Eine kleine Nachtmusik? I still can’t spell it. Thanks Walt!
Went to visit Walt in Boston after he got out. He took me out to Arthur Fiedler’s house and we had coffee and the maestro showed off everything RCA made that filled up his west wing. Also his Firemen hats which I think he liked more than all the fancy high priced recording equipment.
Lux Radio Theater comes to AFN...
Well not really but we did have a weekly locally produced radio drama or comedy which the bunch of us guys jumped into when directed. I would not like to remember this too much...that is to say..none of us were really great actors like the ones Cecil B Demille used from the movies for Lux in Hollywood. (I saw one of these shows when we took a west coast vacation...so more on that later.)
Anyway we had fun doing them...but they wouldn’t win any awards!
Speaking of recorded shows...the AFN (or AFTRS) library was fantastic. The networks furnished, free of charge, every show on big transcripts...if you wanted a Jack Benny or Red Skelton show...or
maybe Fibber McGee and Molly.... or Lux Radio Theater or The Lone Ranger...we had them all. It was beyond challenge the largest collection of such shows because ALL the networks furnished them. I wonder how much a collector would pay for those libraries today!
Let me just mention one more interesting civilian guy at AFN headquarters.
He was older than most of us...German....and I can’t remember his name.
He had been in the German Air Force commanded of course by Herman Goring and he flew bombing missions over London! He didn’t talk about that much but he didn’t have to.
It boggles the mind just to think about it if your a 17 year old American kid. He wasn’t a Nazi (AFN had to clear him) just an airmen with the German Air Force who really took part in history.