JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Renovation efforts at Keeler Fitness Center, part of the “Old Madigan Hospital” complex, have uncovered more than 8,000 radio broadcasts transcriptions. These 16” vinyl recordings, which date from 1942 to 1960, contain popular music and programming recorded by the Armed Forces Radio Service and the War Department, which were provided to military radio stations to inform and entertain service members around the world.
These discs were played on the Madigan Hospital radio station (KMAH) for patients at the hospital, and include recordings by World War II-era musicians such as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Eddie Arnold, and Rosemary Clooney. Jazz great Louis Armstrong tunes received considerable air time, and in 1952 he made a personal visit to the KMAH studios.
The recordings were re-discovered by an employee of Advanced Technology Construction (ATC), who cut into a gym wall to install new wiring. In the narrow 16-inch wall space, he found 30 large boxes containing the records. The contractor alerted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s inspector, who called in the JBLM Cultural Resources Program.
Dale Sadler, JBLM Cultural Resources Program, describes it as an amazing collection of Armed Forces radio and Madigan Hospital history. The Cultural Resources Program will preserve these valuable artifacts, and is researching other ways to retain and share this history with other agencies.