AFRS [Armed Forces Radio Service]
- Howard Rye
[Armed Forces Radio Service]
Broadcasting and recording organization and record label. The organization was established in 1942 as the Radio Section of the Special Service Division of the US War Department; this title appears in full on the earliest discs issued on the label, made before the name AFRS was adopted late in 1943. The service was formed to broadcast to American military bases abroad; the recording department provided fully produced radio programs for this purpose, at first on 16-inch transcription discs, later (from the mid-1950s) on tape. The AFRS became the largest recording enterprise in history. In 1953 it was renamed the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFR&TS); it remained in operation through the 1990s.
Much of the organization’s material has consisted of copies of commercially issued recordings, which are released in such series as the Basic Music Library and the Gold Label Library. Nevertheless, some series have contained recordings of broadcasts made first on commercial radio stations or of live performances specially commissioned by the AFRS. These were particularly prevalent in the 1940s, when demand was at its peak (during World War II) and the supply of commercial material was restricted because of recording bans. Such series as Spotlight Bands, One Night Stand, GI Jive, and Command Performance embrace recordings of hundreds of live performances by jazz and big bands which form an extensive documentation of great value. Especially notable is the Jubilee series, started in ...