Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Song of the Islands

Song of the Islands

GUADALCANAL — When Guadalcanal’s "Radio City" conducted a band-popularity contest recently, the GIs who operate the new station got the surprise of their lives. Harry James and
Benny Goodman trailed Roy Acuff's Tennessee hillbilly band, which received 400 of the 1,000 votes cast by soldiers, sailors and marines of the 'Canal,' on smaller South Sea islands and on patrol ships offshore.

But James is still going to get top billing from the Jacksons who run the broadcasting plant in a three-room shed in a muddy coconut grove. These GI operators, who hail from big cities (Chicago, Salt Lake City, Duluth and Cincinnati) claim the vote was a fluke.

They blame T-5 Hyman Averback of Los Angeles, who conducts the station's "Section 8 Program/' a session of recorded music and Averback chatter. Far from being a friend of hillbilly chants, Averback is such an ardent hot-music man that he lets his prejudices creep into his running commentary on the platters. "I've got some hillbilly records here," he'll remark, "but who likes hillbilly? Let's have a Harry James."

That got them riled up," the other operators of the station say, "and resulted in concerted pressure when we took the poll." Just in case this is the wrong explanation, though, the station is going to give more air time to that good old mountain music.

YANK Staff Correspondent

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