AFN Stuttgart grand opening marks historic return

AFN Ribbon Cutting

Lt. Col. Sherri Reed, American Forces Network Europe commander (from left); Felix Saka, who worked at AFN Stuttgart from 1990 to 2011; Sgt. Reed Knutson, AFN Stuttgart; and Col. John P. Stack, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart commander, cut the ribbon at the grand opening of AFN Stuttgart’s new facilities on Robinson Barracks March 25.

Story & photos by Greg Jones
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

American Forces Network Stuttgart held a grand opening ceremony March 25 to commemorate the opening of its new facilities on Robinson Barracks.

The station began broadcasting from its new studios in Building 209 on Feb. 21. The 12,000 square foot facility, formerly used for bachelor officers’ quarters, now features state-of-the-art television and radio studios, and production facilities.

“We have the tools and resources at hand to do the very best we can,” said Lance Milsted, the station manager.

AFN Grand Opening

Alani Hudson, 4, exchanges an excited thumbs-up with the American Forces Network Eagle mascot during the grand opening of AFN Stuttgart’s new facilities on Robinson Barracks March 25.

Attendees of the grand opening were treated to cake and refreshments, a tour of the new facilities and got to watch a live radio broadcast. The ceremony marked the end of a long journey for the station that really has come back home to its roots, according to Milsted. The station started out as AFN Stuttgart March 17, 1948, originally broadcasting from atop the Graf Zeppelin Hotel in downtown Stuttgart. It moved to the American Elementary School on Robinson Barracks in March 1959 and remained there for more than 30 years.

Post Cold-War changes and the subsequent drawdown in the ‘90s led the station to relocate to Hammond Barracks in the Mannheim-Seckenheim district in April 1993. Re-flagged as AFN Heidelberg, the station continued to serve the Stuttgart community in addition to Mannheim, Heidelberg and Karlsruhe. Transformation actions in U.S. Army Europe prompted the station to move again in September 2009 to a temporary location on Coleman Barracks, where it broadcast out of a mobile broadcasting facility for the first several months. In 2012, the station was again re-flagged to its original moniker, AFN Stuttgart, and began the move to Stuttgart.

By August 2013, the entire station had relocated to Stuttgart and operated out of temporary facilities on Panzer Kaserne while Building 209 was under renovation. “A staff of as many as 10 Soldiers and civilians shared space in three rooms on the third floor of Building 2949 – the garrison headquarters,” Milsted told the audience. While conditions were cramped, they did not cramp the broadcasters’ desire to maintain the station’s standards.

“We have a history that is filled with team members who have set the bar high, who have set a standard of excellence … you will see that we have continued that tradition of excellence … and we’ll do it because it’s our duty …to serve you, our community, our friends,” Milsted said. AFN Stuttgart’s “The Eagle,” (FM 102.3) broadcasts live radio Monday through Friday from 6 to 10 a.m., again from 2 to 6 p.m. with plans for a mid-day show in the coming weeks.

For more information on AFN Stuttgart, visit their website.

AFN Grand Opening Studio Tour

Sgt. Victor Calhoun, of American Forces Network Stuttgart, explains broadcast equipment to visitors during the Grand Opening of AFN Stuttgart’s new facilities on Robinson Barracks March 25. The station moved from Mannheim back to its historical home of Stuttgart in 2013 and just opened a state of the art facility on Robinson Barracks.