From:  Frank Rogers

  Dated:  January 4, 2020

Subject:  50 Years Ago Today

I was in Saigon news in 70-71 and we had to submit copy for “Checking” by a Lt. before airing. I had stories disapproved.

FrankR


    From:  Robert Morecook

  Dated:  January 3, 2020

Subject:  50 Years Ago Today

Hi All I don't think Bob Lawrence is on this list, but I think he's on the facebook page.

Bob M


Censorship - 50 Years Later

​January 2020

    From:  Jim Allingham

   Dated:  January 3, 2020

Subject:  50 Years Ago Today

Thanks, Rick, hard to believe that it was 50 years ago tonight. I wasn't one of the few who knew what Bob was going to do at the end of his TV newscast, so, as I was listening to the audio feed in our newsroom, it truly was an "Oh, shit" moment. And, it wasn't long before every news organization in Saigon was standing outside our gate clamoring to get in. As you know, I wasn't permitted to air the AP wire copy until my 0300 newscast, some 3-1/2 hours later. (The audio from all of the ensuing newscasts are in the audio files of this site). A crazy night, indeed. 
Jim Allingham


    From:  Billy Williams

  Dated:  January 4, 2020

Subject:  Censorship

I remember playing Rainy Daze Acapulco Gold on Orient Express.  Somewhere around here I have it on an aircheck. 
Also Edwin Starr's War and his follow-up "Stop The War Now."  And of course the Vietnam Anthem--"We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" 
"Eve Of Destruction" was on cart in the control room in 1972. 
Billy Williams

    From:  Rick Fredericksen

  Dated:  January 3, 2020

Subject:  50 Years Ago Today

I was there too and the entire censorship period is covered in my digital book "Broadcasters: Untold Chaos," link below, including that night. Also censorship that goes farther back, as told by Adrian Cronauer and others. 
Rick Fredericksen

    From:  Rick Fredericksen

  Dated:  January 4, 2020

Subject:  Censorship

Gosh, I'll have to defer to a dj on that one Preston. Haven't heard that before. I think most of the heavy handed management was in the news department, but censorship was inconsistent, depending on the commanders, troop strength, level of field activity, politics in SVN and tension back home. The peak was 68-69 but towards the end of the war it had virtually ceased. 
Rick Fredericksen


    From:  Steve Sevits

  Dated:  January 3, 2020

Subject:  Censorship

In Saigon during 1963 I don’t recall censorship. We were supposed to rewrite things like “White House” to read “presidential residence.”I'm not sure that qualifies as censorship. 
Virtually all news was newspaper wire copy which had to re-rewritten for radio.  All of us can appreciate style differences between the spoken and written word. 
Subjects to be avoided were local politics and at that time there wasn’t much anti-war protesting going on so that wasn’t an issue. We knew enough to omit anything to do with troop movements or high profile individuals.  I don't recall that as censorship, just common sense, I don't even remember where that came from. 
There were no meetings or discussions about what we should say or not say, as far as I can recall. Even though it was 55 years ago, I think that kind of constraint would have stuck in my mind. What took place later on is beyond my experience. 
In ’64 and ’65, after leaving the Army, I vividly recall working for a small CBS station and when covering one or two items for the network, there were very explicit guidelines put down from the network as to how things should be covered and slanted. During that time I recall saying to myself there was more freedom in the Saigon newsroom than in the civilian newsroom of a local CBS affiliate. 
Steve Sevits


AFVN Group Conversations

    From:  Steve Sevits

  Dated:  January 4, 2020

Subject:  Censorship

I know Jerry (Masini) well.  He never thought to mention this. 
Jerry was a broadcast engineer, hope you documented how they got American (60 cycle) equipment to run on VN 50 cycle grid.  Jerry's routine on this would make a good Las Vegas stand up session. 
S-.


    From:  Preston Cluff

  Dated:  January 4, 2020

Subject:  Censorship

Correct me if I'm wrong, Rick, but I seem to remember that when Barry McGuire's Eve of Destruction was anywhere on a pre-recorded countdown show received by AFVN, the song, its position and the artist were only mentioned verbally; the song never played.  I know it was not in the library.  What really blew my mind, though, it that we never received Dawn of Correction for airplay! 

Preston


    From:  Rick Fredericksen

  Dated:  January 4, 2020

Subject:  Censorship

Tim, you probably did not have AP or UPI for wire stories in 1970, but took your news off the telex from AFVN Saigon. This news was already pre-filtered so it complied with management guidelines. You would not know what was being held back in Saigon. Same with film and VTR stories that might be considered demoralizing, embarrassing or offending to the GSV. I don't think they were never shipped to the detachments. 
Rick Fredericksen


    From:  Timothy Lennox

  Dated:  January 4, 2020

Subject:  50 Years Ago Today

In Det 5, 1970, I only remember one story rejected, about South Vietnamese soldiers escaping a Cambodian battlefront by holding onto chopper landing skids, and eventually dropping off. Interestingly, the only other incident during a 50 year career was also in a government setting...Alabama Public TV. 
Tim Lennox


    From:  Ann Kelsey

  Dated:  January 4, 2020

Subject:  Censorship

Would that sister-in-law have been Madam Nhu? 
Ann


    From:  Rick Fredericksen

  Dated:  January 3, 2020

Subject:  50 Years Ago Today

Yes, Jim. A half century!!! It seems so silly now with most everything accessible via the internet. I'll buy you a beer on the top floor of the Plaza. 
Rick Fredericksen


    From:  Rick Fredericksen

  Dated:  January 4, 2020

Subject:  50 Years Ago Today

No need to bother searching bother Tim, I'm sure it was the same upcountry feed that all detachments got. A combination of wires plus Saigon AFVN messages and stories. I remember getting it in Nha Trang. 
Rick Fredericksen


    From:  Brian Wickham

  Dated:  January 6, 2020

Subject:  Censorship

In early 1969 I started hearing the song “Hair” played on AFVN in Saigon enough to be quite familiar with it. In March I went to Sydney on R&R and one morning while shaving I heard “Hair” come on the local radio station. All of a sudden the song breaks out into “Oh say can you see!” and I did a double take. The version I had been hearing all along on AFVN had that section edited out! 
Brian Wickham


    From:  Tim Bodle

  Dated:  January 4, 2020

Subject:  50 Years Ago Today

Somewhere a box in some closet there is a photo of me at the "wire machine"...and I remember it being a combination of AP and UPI...so perhaps that was coming from Saigon....and that's where I got the story....and was told by the Det. 5 Lt. not to use it because it was bad for morale. I'll find the photo soon! (-: 
Tim


    From:  Rick Fredericksen

  Dated:  January 5, 2020

Subject:  Censorship

Bill, a new take that I'd not heard. I assume the photo was at the Brink hotel. I have compared MACOI to a corporate PR office. It is their job to show the company (military) in the best light; downplay the negatives and focus on the positives. It is understandable that the information officers wanted to insulate the troops from demoralizing news, and often exaggerated, to boot. But it doesn't mean censorship was proper--in fact--most censorship was against DOD rules. 
Rick Fredericksen


    From:  Rick Fredericksen

  Dated:  January 4, 2020

Subject:  Censorship

Ann,

That would be her. I wonder what she played on the family phonograph? Imelda Marcos? 
Rick Fredericksen


    From:  John Bagwell

  Dated:  January 6, 2020

Subject:  Censorship

Wow. Brings back memories. A little background:   I was in An Khe with the First Cavalry  Division and a DJ for AFN [NB: Actually it was "1st Cav-owned"] An Khe.   For all practical purposes we were a "bootleg radio station." 
Like the other AFN stations in Vietnam we started out just rebroadcasting the Saigon feed.  The Public Information Office (PIO) for the First Cav would break in several times a day to do a news up date on what was going on with the Cav. It was about 5 minutes long with all the propaganda of how many Viet Cong we killed and how The First Cavalry Division was single handedly winning the war. I think that was pretty standard across the country. 
As the story goes, one day Major General Tolson, Commander of the First Cav, was listening to the radio and heard all the block program --an hour of country music, followed by an hour of easy listening music, followed by a hour of Classical Music (and probably some Polka music).  He called his staff together and asked, "What is the age of the average solider in my command?"  They replied that it was about 18,19 or 20 years of age.  He wondered,  "Why are we playing all this #$*$#@ that the troops don't want to hear?" 
Next thing he ordered PIO to start playing Rock music.  Only problem was we didn't have any Rock music.  In fact, we didn't have any music!  We didn't get anything from AFRTS. We weren't even a real station. We just rebroadcast the feed from Saigon.  So we got 45s from the states and started our own programming. We even had to build out own equipment. Some how we built a control board and our microphone was actually a public address mic.  And Tolson got enough Radio Specialist assigned to PIO to make up a staff. I guess when you are a General you can do anything you want. 
When I got there in 1967 it was already up and going and we were broadcasting all day with Rock and Roll. I had the afternoon 2 to 6 shift.   Because we didn't answer to Saigon (or anyone else except the General), we just played whatever we wanted.  That included "Coming Home Soldier", and any number of protest songs.  I don't ever remember being told we could not play a particular song. I remember we played Buffalo Springfield "For What it's Worth." 
I don't remember the exact song, but I do recall when it showed up on our play list I wondered out loud if I should play it.  I did, and never heard a word. 
I do have a question for you guys that were at the Saigon station in 1966 and 67.   There was a story told that I never could verify. I will admit, that it is one of those stories that sounded too good to be true. 
This appaently happened before I got there in  March of 1967.  After General Tolson decided to start playing Rock music the command at the home office (Saigon AFN) got  word that we were operating without permission (and that we were playing that evil Rock and Roll).  They supposedly sent a young 2nd Lt to An Khe, to shut us down.  General Tolson met the chopper and told him if he was going to shut us down, they needed to send someone with at least one more star on his lapel than what he had.  The 2nd Lt got back on the chopper and we never heard from him, or AFN Saigon, again. 
Any truth to that?  Did you guys in Saigon know what we were up to?  Were any other stations in Vietnam doing this? 
John Bagwell 

​​

    From:  Tim Bodle

  Dated:  January 3, 2020

Subject:  50 Years Ago Today

Art Key could fill in any blanks.  He was recording the whole thing at Bob's request I believe.

    From:  Stephen Smith

  Dated:  January 4, 2020

Subject:  Censorship

And then their was this one..... 


<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ea79npseZhk>" 

[In the 1960's the song was just an audio recording, decades before someone added the video graphics for YouTube.] 
The song  "Acapulco Gold" somehow actually came through on a vetted official AFRTS radio library disk.   Apparently the lifers at AFRTS in Washington were totally unaware of what the song was about! 
At Det 4 Hon Tre, in the first part of 1970, we would come out of the 1900 hrs radio newscast with a mandated anti-marijuana spot and then segue into this song two or three times a week.   It was a standing joke among anyone under about 25 in the Nha Trang/Cam Ranh area. Somehow no senior command types ever caught on......

    From:  Rick Fredericksen

   Dated:  January 3, 2020

Subject:  50 Years Ago Today

Internal dissent over MACV censorship at AFVN blew up when Specialist Bob Lawrence ended his live TV newscast alleging that “a newscaster at AFVN is not free to tell the truth.” Lawrence was reassigned as a chaplain’s assistant. The protest prompted a congressional investigation and command censorship would end the following year. 
Rick Fredericksen

    From:  Ann Kelsey

  Dated:  January 4, 2020

Subject:  Censorship

LOL. I  remember that.PSA followed by Acapulco Gold. Being from Southern California I thought it was very amusing.  I kept the secret to myself though and wondered how it got slipped into the playlist. Now I know. 
Ann


    From:  Rick Fredericksen

  Dated:  January 4, 2020

Subject:  Censorship

Jerry (Masini) must have been the only engineer to host the Dawnbuster. Wish we had met. 
Rick Fredericksen

​​

    From:  Bill Altman

  Dated:  January 4, 2020

Subject:  Censorship

Hi Gang, Censorship was very much alive in 1965 during my year working as a newscaster.  I remember a story I called in to MACOI for clearance that included a quote about the Vietnam war by the Pope.It was killed by MACOI. Another story included a quote from President Johnson that was eliminated from the story.I remember thinking "How can we exclude something said by our Commander-in-Chief?"  In any event those decisions were above my pay grade.  In the newsroom in 1965 any teletype story that mentioned Vietnam was placed on a reserved hook on the wall and one of our news staff called it in to MACOI and read it to an officer who either Cleared it or killed it.  The News staffer noted the clearance officer's initials and time on the original and it went back on the hook for rewrite. I've attached a JPEG image of our 1965 newsroom taken from my photo album that is included on our web site.  The teletype original hooks are visible on the back wall. 

Bill Altman


    From:  Steve Pennington

   Dated:  February 14, 2015

Subject:  Restoring This WWII B-29 Bomber Has Taken 300K Hours So Far

This is an amazing airplane project.  Before I retired from Boeing 9 years ago I would check out the progress whenevver I was in Wichita.  Andy Labosky , who was one our Navs in the 11th ARS when I was at Altus, was one of the drivers in the effort.  I have a chunk of the airplane on my bookshelf in my den.  What a great success story.

Steve Pennington


    From:  Ken Kalish

  Dated:  January 6, 2020

Subject:  Censorship

Someone would go through the TP disks in Saigon and use a knife to scratch through the tracks we weren’t supposed to play.  Of course, with some of the folks we had announcing, that was only a minor inconvenience.  They would contact sources back home and have carts sent over with the music.  Anything we had scratched was always available on the street, often before the TP of it arrived.  Once, and only once, I was told not to play a specific piece.  I can’t remember what it was but it showed up on a second TP and that one got air play. 
Ken

​​

    From:  Dick Ellis

  Dated:  January 6, 2020

Subject:  Censorship

When I first got there in July of 67 and worked in radio for a month...I only remember "Coming Home Soldier" by Bobby Bare scratched out.

​​

    From:  Rick Fredericksen

  Dated:  January 4, 2020

Subject:  Censorship

Steve, I mentioned this (can't say "White House") in my book, Broadcasters: Untold Chaos. Also, another very early censorship case was a Chubby Checker song. Excerpt below. 
Army disc jockey Jerry Masini was forbidden to play Checker’s song “The Twist,” when he hosted the Dawnbuster program in the earliest days of Saigon radio. Masini told a newspaper reporter that he was allowed to play any music he wanted, except for “The Twist,” because the sister-in-law of President Diem hated the song. A single, disgruntled listener managed to have the hit record banished from the airwaves. 
Rick Fredericksen


    From:  Forrest Brandt

  Dated:  January 4, 2020

Subject:  50 Years Ago Today

The Short Version: I was hired by the 1st ID PIO because I had been a speech and theatre major and worked for the Columbus CBS affiliate while in college. I’d been with the office for something like 3 months when I was summoned to appear before a GS13 at JUSPAO. She wanted to know how I had been selected since I was not a DINFOS grad. Then she began making “suggestions” for the stories we were doing - “You know, the ARVN is really doing the bulk of the fighting now. Your division and others are just there as support.” This just weeks after the ARVN 25th ID had been routed during an attack on Bien Hoa AB and had their ass saved when troops from the 1/4 Can and 11th ACR flanked the NVA unit and stopped them in their tracks. She continued on with the myth of an efficient efficient ARVN and then added, “One final note, Lieutenant, if you take pictures of American wounded, make sure they’re smiling.” 
Forrest​​