Long and Short of Disk Jockey Life; What does it take to MC Shows?
The long and the short of being an American military disc jockey behind the Iron Curtain were recently described by Specialist Five Dan Eads and Specialist Four Milt Fullerton of American Forces Network Berlin. The six-foot-six-inch Fullerton, weighing in at 200 pounds, rides herd over AFN-Berlin’s popular hour-and-a-half morning record show, “Wake Up Easy.” The somewhat dimnmitive Eads, who,is listed on the station’s roster at five feet six inches with 125 pounds packed
to his frame, spins the turntable on “Merely Music” from 10 to 10:30 in the morning and on “Noontime Rendezvous” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. He also handles the five-minute Sports Page (an extension of Sports Journal) at 6:45 in the evening. The “Merely Music” show is the only
regulary scheduled music program from AFN-Berlin aired network wide.
What does it take to run a platter chatter show with a wide listening audience not only in West Berlin but also in the Communist world which surrounds the Divided City?
“What we try to do is make the show informative for our listeners,” the 23-year-old Eads answers. “Our aim is to let the man on the street know about anything from show business stars to current events and items of household interest. We’re always trying to find little tidbits of
information for our listening audience. We wade through stacks of magazines, newspapers and trade
journals to find things of interest for our listeners.” According to the 24-year-old Fullerton, “The book says for every hour on the air you need an hour and a half of research - but most
of us do more than that. Other soldiers frequently tell us, ‘You work for AFN - you must have it made!’ Well, they’re absolutely right. We do have it made in the sense that we are fortunate to be able to perform a job in the Army for which we were trained in civilian life; a job that we know how to do and further that we enjoy doing.” Is there a difference between announcing for the U.S. Forces in Berlin and doing the same job for a civilian station back in the States? “I think AFN is a much easier, better and more relaxed place to work than a civilian station,” says Eads. “We have considerably more freedom than we might back in the States - for example we have more freedom of choice in music we play. We have program meetings and can suggest what we think is best. The
result, I believe, is a much better sounding program than in the U.S., with no distracting advertisements from commercial companies.” The son of Mr. and Mrs. Dan, J. Eads, 16 Skyline Circle, Green Mountain Falls, Colorado -a town near Colorado Springs-Dan attended Union College, Lincoln, Neb., for ‘two years, where he studied public relations. He was a radio announcer and a salesman with Montgomery Ward, Lincoln, Neb., before joining the Army in March of 1963. He arrived overseas in June, 1964, and joined AFN-Berlin just about this I time last year.
Both Fullerton and Eads met their wives through the station during their present assignment. Fullerton met his wife, Irene, because of sheer “circumstances”; she was record librarian at the station. They and their 21/s-month-old son, Clifford, live at 18 Katharienen Strasse in Berlin-Zehlendorf.
With Eads it was a somewhat different story. His wife, Renate, with whom he now lives at 15 Flanagan Strasse in the Dahlem section of Zehlendorf, was visiting the studios on a tour. However, he denies that she had already fallen in love with
his voice over the air. A 1960-graduate of Colorado Springs High School, Colorado
Springs, Eads has now done every show possible over AFN-Berlin. And, like Fullerton, he spends his
off-announcing hours writing scripts,conducting interviews, preparing news programs and all of the other lesser-known duties that go into being an integral member of what is the only station in the entire AFN network to be on the air 24 hours a day. , Every third weekend means around-the-clock standby duty for the two disc jockeys. On that Saturday night they also fill in for the
regular honcho of “935 For Night People” - a six-hour music show which derives its name from AFN-
Berlin’s frequency on the dial, Fullerton, a 1960 graduate of Tolman Senior High School, Pawtucket,
R. I., was a radio announcer and a road manager for singers in the Providence, R.I., and Boston, Mass. area before he was graduated in 1964 from the Leland Powers School of Radio, TV and Theater - a Professional school in Boston.
His favorite announcer, Walter Cronkite, is probably the main reason why he entered the Army in
June of that year. It fell upon Milt to pick up the famous news announcer at the local airport so that Cronkite could receive an honorary award at the Powers school. While driving him back from the plane Cronkite so impressed Fullerton with the benefits to be gained from the Defense Information School at Fort Slocum, N. Y., that he found himself raising his right hand shortly after graduation.
Fullerton completed basic combat training at Fort Dix, N. J., that July and then attended the information school-newly relocated to Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind, He arrived overseas in June of the following year, and was immediately assigned to AFN-Berlin. “Announcing here at AFN is very similar to announcing in civilian life,” he says. “The exceptions would be that here it’s
not as specialized as in the United States. Here we work with everything every day. I write scripts, conduct interviews, work some of the engineering controls and do straight announcing. It’s sometimes hard to imagine all that goes on here.” Unlike Eads, who has an 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. day, Fullerton has to leave his house shortly after 4 a.m., but quietly, so as not to wake up his
family. His normal work day ends at 1 pm. One of his programs is “Tempo ” a mid-morning five-minute job of interest primarily to housewives of the American community in Berlin. His performance on that shorte program was so enthusiastic and convincing that he was recently offered an honorary membership in a local warm’s club, He didn’t accept.
“Still,” he explains, “AFN’s programs are for the people-we’re only the ones who happen to be
spinning the records for them and complying with their wishes. We try to play what people want to
hear. We feel we’re bringing home a bit closer, for the guys in the units or the housewife, both, perhaps away from the States for the first time. We like to feel that we have attained our goal of serving as a hometown link.”
The son of Mr. and Mrs. Everitt L. Fullerton, 4 Windsor Court, Pawtucket, R. I., he is presently attending the Goethe Institute in Berlin, studying German during his offduty hours. He also acquired an understanding of German announcers and their problems. “For example,” he said, “in American radio the announcer has been a bit freer-the German custom until recently was to have the announcer speak all his words from a prepared script, but they’re getting away from that now.”
Fullerton plans to return to school and eventually do more announcing and even perhaps TV and public relations work when he goes home after his separation from the service. Eads hopes to work in the broadcasting field in Denver. And that’s the long and short of being a disc jockey for AFN-Berlin.Now you know the significance of Specialist Fullerton’s parting-comment on “Wake-Up Easy,” when he cautions one and all to “watch out for the little guy,”