The Armed Forces Radio Service had been created by the War Department as a means to entertain and inform the Troops. The service was run "by G.I.s for G.I.s."
AFRS was centered in Hollywood, not only close to the resources of the entertainment industry, but there was also a lot of military training and staging in the area during the early days of the Second World War. AFRS programming was developed for "Local" broadcast in the various theaters of the war. On Jul 4, 1943 the first AFRS broadcast in Europe was played over borrowed equipment. As the Allies moved East after D-Day AFRS stations were set up in most liberated cities.
Programing from the States was sometimes send by shortwave but this was unreliable. The preferred method was to prerecord programming on transcription disks then mail them to the various stations.
A very popular show from Hollywood was G.I. Journal, a combination situation comedy and variety show. The premise of the sit com was Celebrity Guest editors putting out a weekly news paper. Guest Editors included Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, George Murphy, Groucho Marx, Edgar Bergen, Frank Sinatra and many others. They would have guest staff and reporters with a comedy or "Pin-up" tie in; Lucille Ball, Linda Darnell, Roy Rogers, Fibber McGee and Molly, Jane Wyman, Connie Haines, Ann Miller, Ginger Rogers, the list goes on...
Like many shows of the era the Big Band Sound was important to G.I. Journal. Many Service Orchestras appeared, including the Army Air Force Training Command Orchestra with Capt Glenn Miller. Kay Kyser and His Orchestra (of Kay Kyser's Kollege Of Musical Knowledge) were frequently featured. Other Musical guests included Mel Torme and the MelTones, John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra, and Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Many episodes featured an original song written by a G.I. Overseas which would be sent to Hollywood and performed by a pretty girl in the studio- what a treat for the G.I. Song writer!
Another regular feature was Mel Blanc playing Private Sad Sack, bringing the pantomime cartoon to the radio.
Be sure to enjoy other AFRS programs like G.I. Jive, Command Performance, and Mail Call.