The month of September 2014 will include a long-planned labor of love as the “Star Spangled Radio Hour” presents the Army Air Forces Training Command (AAFTC) Radio Production Units under the command of Lt. Col. Eddie Dunstedter and Capt. Robert Jennings with musical directors M/Sgt. Felix Slatkin and M/Sgt. Harry Bluestone. SSRH 223 and SSRH 224 will present original broadcasts and recordings by the First AAF Radio Production Unit/39th AAF Base Unit (Radio Production) at Santa Ana Army Air Base, California and the Second AAF Radio Production Unit/38th AAF Base Unit (Radio Production) from the AAF Technical School at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. Neither was directed by Capt. Glenn Miller although both were heavily influenced by the AAFTC Director of Bands.

The AAF was very serious about recruiting leading radio and musical talent and  started its radio production program before Glenn Miller enlisted in September 1942 and became Director of Bands in January 1943. The AAF was far ahead of the Army and Navy with regard to its thinking and plans for the assertive use of radio and film. At the same time the AAF First Motion Picture Unit was formed at Culver City, the first AAF radio production unit was the Santa Ana organization commanded by the then-Capt. Dunstedter in the summer of 1942. M/Sgt. Bluestone and M/Sgt. Slatkin were serious Hollywood musical talents recruited to staff a large concert orchestra for future network radio programs promoting the AAF and assisting in recruiting young men and women to this branch of the armed forces. This organization became the First AAF Radio production Unit handling several network radio assignments in Hollywood and producing music for AAF 1st MPU films. During 1943 Bluestone was transferred to AAFTC HQ at Fort Worth, Texas to start a second radio unit. The Fort Worth unit was first commanded by ex-NBC executive Maj. Frank Healy who was assigned to AAFTC HQ as radio planner. Healy would eventually transfer to New York as CO of the Second AAF Radio Production Unit with Director of Bands Miller as musical director of an elite orchestra (and you all know the rest of the story). The Bluestone Forth Worth unit produced the Mutual series Your AAF and replaced the Miller unit for New York network radio duties when Miller’s rebranded Army Air Forces Band (Special) was loaned by the AAF to Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) and shipped to the European Theatre of Operations. The Bluestone unit took over Miller’s NBC I Sustain the Wings series. They brought with them singer Cpl. Bob Carroll, who had previously been assigned to the Miller unit and announcer and actor Lt. William Holden. Among the arrangers for the orchestra was Sgt. Elmer Bernstein, later to become a well-known Hollywood talent. Miller’s announcer Lt. Donald Briggs had been assigned to Fort Worth before he was assigned to Miller.

April 1, 1945, M/Sgt. Slatkin and M/Sgt. Bluestone switched assignments and orchestras. At this time, their units were producing eight network radio series over NBC, CBS, Mutual and the Blue Network. They were making recordings for Office of War Information (OWI) to be broadcast over the Voice of America around the world and for the Armed Forces Radio Service, including the Uncle Sam Presents series. Representative music, dramatic sketches and announcements from these programs have been assembled for our programs. September 13, 2014 we will feature the Santa Ana (or Hollywood) west coast radio production unit and sub-units (mostly M/Sgt. Slatkin). September 20, 2014 we will feature the New Haven (or New York) east coast radio production unit and sub-units (mostly M/Sgt. Bluestone).

Please plan to join us for these important programs offering a glimpse of the Army Air Forces radio production programs of 1944 and 1945 of which Glenn Miller was a key contributor and as we spotlight his talented AAF colleagues. These programs represent the important collections of the Glenn Miller Archive containing the historic acetates and tapes of the AAF and OWI radio series, including the Edward Burke Collection and especially the Felix and Eleanor Slatkin Collection courtesy of their sons Fred Zlotkin and Leonard Slatkin. Our essential effort to preserve the AAFTC radio units is not possible without the irreplaceable assistance and enthusiasm of Bill Freytag. Several living veterans of the Lt. Col. Eddie Dunstedter AAF First Radio Unit will be listening in and we will proudly mention their service during the programs as will Eddie’s daughters who we wish to thank for their support along with Fred, Leonard and Bill.
Dennis Spragg, from the Glenn Miller Archive at the University of Colorado, Boulder, has advises that The Star Spangled Radio Hour (SSRH 223) on Sept. 13, 2014 was devoted to the music of the First Radio Production Unit Orchestra conducted by M/Sgt Felix Slatkin.

If you have not heard the Star Spangled Radio Hour, it is broadcast each Saturday through the facilities of KEZW, 1430AM, Aurora / Denver CO. It is compered by Rick Crandall who is ably assisted by Dennis Spragg.