ARMED FORCES EXPERIENCE
QUESTION FOR DAN O’DAY:
I'm a 12-year vet of both radio and TV, and I've spent the last 8 years
in the Air Force in American Forces Radio & Television. What I and a
great many of my colleagues are wondering, after spending so much time
overseas and out of touch with the stateside radio rat race, is how PDs
view our experience as military broadcasters? When I get out, I'll have
done radio in Iceland, Japan and other places, in a variety of formats
and shifts. But will all this experience be appreciated by a PD who's
not familiar with what we do beyond an aircheck?
I suspect most PDs view military broadcast experience as equivalent of small market stateside radio. Certainly not a detriment, but also not an automatic entree into a large market.
Armed Forces radio exists in a vacuum. Often it is the only English language station in a market, and it does not depend upon ratings for its survival. Armed Forces radio primarily serves the population of the military base (as well as the wishes of the post's commander). Although they also often are heard by a substantial "shadow audience" of civilians, this is viewed as a bonus that is not central to the role of the radio station.
I suspect that many AFRTS veterans offer more potential as personalities due to the fact that they have lived among other cultures and, as a result, are likely to have less circumscribed points of reference. On the other hand, "the military way" and "the radio way" have many differences between them.
If I were programming a station and an AFRTS veteran applied for work, I certainly would not reject the application out of hand. I would think, "Well, he has at least some radio experience. Let's listen to the tape and find out if he's any good." And my reaction to that tape would determine my reaction to the job application.