AFN station in Japan gets new equipment, more 'personality'
December 15, 2002
The only American radio station for servicemembers and families on Japan’s Kanto Plain is back on the air with new equipment and announcers fresh from disc-jockey boot camp — but some listeners are having trouble telling the difference.
Some airmen and civilians at Yokota Air Base, where the broadcasts originate, were surprised to hear that Eagle 810 had changed since returning to the airwaves. The differences either are too subtle, or they just haven’t listened to the station that much, they said.
“I really didn’t notice a difference,” said 2nd Lt. Michael Davila, 31.
Soon after the station resumed broadcasting, one airman said she had no idea whether it sounded better, since the World Series was on every time she tuned in.
Eagle 810 came back after a three-week hiatus, promising more news and more entertaining disc jockeys. The station was silent from Sept. 26 to Oct. 18 while workers replaced a phaser, an aging piece of transmitting equipment.
During that time, the station’s military DJs recorded about 60 new public service announcements and went through “radio boot camp.” Among their goals was having the DJs share more about themselves and come across as distinct radio personalities.
“We want to incorporate making the jocks more human,” said Eagle 810 program director Master Sgt. John Tway.
Some listeners said they’ve noticed the difference.
“OK, I get it already, it’s ‘Hot news and hit music,’” said a somewhat exasperated Navy Airman Joe Cruz at Yokosuka, parroting the station’s new slogan. “How many times are they gonna say that? But I guess if I know their new slogan, it’s working, right?”
Other Yokosuka listeners said they were happy that many of their favorite programs remained the same while the DJs put in added effort.
“I sit in my car for about 45 minutes every morning to drive in from my house, so I have plenty of time to listen,” said Yokosuka civilian employee James Logan. “I miss having a morning-show style program like in the States, but you can tell that the Eagle 810 guys are trying to do that more since they’ve come back.”
Eagle 810 has an estimated listening audience among Kanto Plain bases of about 50,000. It also has a potential “shadow” audience of up to 1 million Japanese.
Some programming has been reformatted. Music in the morning was reduced to a maximum of eight from 10 to 12 songs per hour.
The morning lineup also added a live local news broadcast. The anchor, Tech. Sgt. Ron Rogers, will air news from Kanto Plain military bases; the more regional Pacific radio news report also will continue.