台美文化交流的橋梁

ICRT,40週年
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2019 / 3月

文‧曾蘭淑 圖‧ICRT


ICRT──台北國際社區廣播電台,台灣唯一的英語廣播電台,40年前,在外交歷史的風暴中誕生。40年來,在整點英語新聞、路況與天氣預報的放送下,陪伴中外聽友走過風雨,了解國家大事;不同時段、多元的西洋流行音樂節目,美式風格的頻道,豐富人們心靈與文化。

 


 

「This is I~C~R~T,FM100……。」台北國際社區廣播電台(以下簡稱「ICRT」)耳熟能詳的台呼,放送著「紅髮艾德」(Ed Sheeran)的〈Castle On The Hill〉,台灣將是他4月亞洲巡迴演唱會的首站,這首歌以輕快搖滾節奏,唱出了人們的年少輕狂,唱遍了回憶的甜蜜美好,就像ICRT,陪伴外僑與民眾度過輕鬆與歡樂時光。

台美關係動盪的產物

ICRT的前身是「美軍電台」(全名為「駐台美軍廣播電台」,Armed Forces Network Taiwan, AFNT),當時美軍大量增援越戰,台灣成為東南亞重要的戰略據點,數以千計的美軍駐紮台灣,因應美軍與其眷屬的需要,設立了美軍電台。

一位美國空軍的女兒陶派特(Pat Torguson)曾回憶,因為八二三炮戰的攻擊,台南空軍基地總是處於警戒狀態,必須隨時注意收聽美軍電台的廣播。她清晰地記得,每當電台播報員的聲音說道:「嗆辣椒!我再說一遍,嗆辣椒!」這個暗號警報,讓她的父親不發一語,立刻站起,迅速換上軍服,離開家前往基地。

美軍電台是駐台美軍、外僑與眷屬收聽新聞與西洋流行歌曲的唯一管道。不只外僑,當美軍電台獨家放送著貓王藍調、鄉村搖滾的新專輯,經常佔據告示榜披頭四的〈順其自然〉(Let It Be),以及唐.麥克林(Don McLean)的〈美國派〉(American Pie),這些民謠、搖滾「美聲」,在當時戒嚴的氛圍中,也成為台灣年輕人尋求自由與夢想的另一片天空。

1979年元旦,美國政府與中華民國政府終止外交關係,美軍電台也準備停播,因為按照正常作業的程序,美軍必須把所有播音設備運回美國。當時美國海軍上將James Linder隨即說服美國政府,以象徵性的「一元美金」,將所有的設備交給中華民國政府,再轉租給ICRT。

尤其是美僑商會會長羅伯‧派克(Robert P. Parker)大力奔走,得到當時總統蔣經國與行政院長孫運璿的支持,指示新聞局長宋楚瑜協助解決執照、電波等問題,並給予經費補助,匯集美僑商會與台灣企業界的1,500萬元資金,成立了「台北國際社區文化基金會」來運作ICRT。

1979 年 4 月 16 日午夜前,在中華民國與美國國歌的樂聲中,結束了「美軍電台」。緊接著午夜12點,羅伯.派克宣布:「ICRT is on the air」,台北國際社區廣播電台正式開播,「無縫接軌」,一秒都不間斷地接續播音。ICRT前台長朱友龍說:「ICRT是台美斷交這一段外交歷史上最直接的產物。」

即時新聞,播報不間斷

ICRT克服了台美斷交這段歷史的波折,得以非營利性組織的方式,以新聞、西洋流行音樂的聲波,串流起台美文化交流的使命。

ICRT總經理Tim Berge早期在ICRT負責製播新聞與路況,他指出:「我們在國際與體育新聞的即時性,常成為其他媒體的消息來源。常是剛收到國際通訊社的外電,立即轉化為口語化的新聞播出。」例如他還記得1992年曾播出老布希總統(George H.W. Bush)訪日,因身體不適,突然吐在日本首相宮澤喜一身上的新聞,不僅是全台最先披露的媒體,還接到電視台詢問此新聞的電話。

縱使現在網路媒體如此普及,ICRT仍肩負著服務在台外僑、中西文化交流的使命。舉凡美國在台協會,美國、歐洲與加拿大等商會與外僑學校的活動,ICRT扮演了重要媒體聯絡的角色,尤其是每當美國舉行重要總統與國會選舉,ICRT不忘提醒美僑記得在截止日進行通訊投票。

特別在是天氣預報與路況播報,更是在台外籍人士重要的消息來源。2001年納莉颱風將大台北地區變成一片汪洋,捷運板南線因此停駛3個月。能說一口流利中文的總經理Tim Berge回憶:「那時我們與中國廣播公司同在中廣松江大樓,所有的機器全部泡在水裡,中廣因此停播一天,可是ICRT停播不到一個小時。因為當時ICRT總經理趕緊跑到陽明山發射台,用一個CD播放機插著發射台的機器,開始做節目。」ICRT工程師與DJ敬業的精神,風雨無阻地讓ICRT放送不間斷。

多元樂音,青春洋溢

ICRT曾在1979年進行聽眾調查,在AM與FM聽眾比例65%是外籍人士;可是到了1980年代以後,根據AC 尼爾森廣播收聽率的調查,台灣聽眾反而佔了9成以上。

一個以英文發音的電台,卻讓許多台灣人愛聽,主要是ICRT平日提供的西洋流行音樂現場節目,以及週末的音樂排行榜、爵士音樂、靈魂音樂、舞曲特區等塊狀節目,吸引了許多喜歡西洋流行音樂的鐵粉聆聽。

ICRT昔日主持人Suzi Wonder、 Kev Morgan、Tony Taylor、Richie Walker、David Wang的現場節目,陪伴聽眾走過青春年少。特別是David Wang,本名「王再得」的他,不是外文系,沒有出國留學過,卻能以道地的美國腔成為ICRT主持人,是ICRT的傳奇人物,也是許多聽眾的偶像。

將David Wang視為廣播導師的ICRT主持人Joseph Lin透露,David Wang原先在ICRT當工讀生時,晚上值班負責播放外電新聞,每天用空白錄音帶將外電新聞錄下來,反覆練習多年,終於「機會是給予準備好的人」,有一天一位DJ因故不能上節目,總經理臨時指派David Wang代打,結果一鳴驚人,人稱「大衛王」的王再得成為ICRT第一位台灣籍的主持人。雖然他39歲時以肝癌病逝,大衛王的「青春夜線」節目,伴隨著許多聽友留下美好回憶。

學英語、練聽力

在美國出生的Joseph Lin,雖然英語是母語,但要成為廣播節目主持人,也是下過多年苦功,先是揣摩美國著名電視脫口秀主持人的風格、常用的字彙,再逐漸找到自己主持的路。現已是ICRT「功力最深」的節目主持人,Joseph Lin20年前還是美國菲利浦公司的電腦工程師,熱愛音樂的他,週末在美國華人電台擔任主持人,但由於一通與ICRT總經理面試的越洋電話,毅然決然放下美國的舒適圈,飛來台灣當廣播節目主持人。

中文名為「林哲修」的Joseph Lin,原本想做2年就回美國,一晃眼,在麥克風前度過20年歲月。林哲修以他略帶磁性、富有魅力的嗓音說:「因為我作的是我從小就愛的工作:找音樂、聽音樂,還有唱片公司免費提供的CD,就像喜歡時尚的人每天都有人寄免費的衣服給你穿一樣。」有什麼比將夢想變工作更吸引人呢?

但節目做久了,卻有更深的使命感,「以前同類型的西洋流行音樂節目,像飛碟等電台,或是 MTV、Channel V的節目沈寂不復以往,但還有我們可以為聽眾提供更多流行音樂的資訊。」Joseph Lin每兩週蒐集美、英、澳告示排行榜的音樂資訊分享給聽眾,也傳遞了流行文化的使命。

ICRT 是台灣第一個創造call in的電台,不只call in,Joseph Lin做了10年「驚喜call out」的單元,因應聽友的要求打電話告白、慶生、點歌或是惡作劇,常常讓聽友跟著血脈賁張或是感動流淚。「我為聽友求婚至少30次。」接到Joseph Lin的電話,聽眾不禁尖叫,這個長青單元也將許多對ICRT陌生的聽眾,變為死忠聽友。

ICRT更是國內學子學習英語,練習聽力的絕佳管道。David Wang與Joseph Lin等DJ以國、英雙語雙聲帶,製作風趣輕鬆的節目。經常有聽眾反映,因為先有20~30秒的中文,聽久了,英文聽力就跟著加強。隨著社群媒體的發達,ICRT順勢推出線上廣播、線上有聲節目,讓更多的聽眾透過手機下載APP,聽廣播、學英文。

1993年起政府逐步開放廣播頻道,面臨愈來愈多電台的競爭,ICRT透過大型外場活動、社區公益活動,與台灣社會接地氣,抓住聽友的黏著度。1985年開始與中國信託銀行合作的「點燃生命之火」募款活動,對弱勢兒童的扶助,歷史悠久且溫暖持續著。超過十年歷史的「客家風情」單元以輕鬆活潑的方式,成為介紹在地客家文化最好的媒介。ICRT每年舉辦的單身派對、萬聖節派隊與自行車日,更是聽眾與DJ一起狂歡、交流的重要活動。

作為西洋流行音樂的領航電台,ICRT致力培育新秀,從1986年提供「青春之星」藝術獎學金,幫助有才華的青年人深造;2007年創立「樂團大競技」活動至今,副總經理于淑湄指出,ICRT提供頻道與節目,讓國內外優秀的獨立樂團和音樂創作者「打歌」,有「被聽見」的發聲管道,歷屆冠軍持續在樂壇閃耀發光,例如第3屆冠軍 io 曾入圍2012年金曲獎「最佳樂團」; 2012年冠軍隊TRASH 以及2013年冠軍FLUX皆曾獲得貢寮音樂祭海洋之星大賞。

與《台灣關係法》同年的ICRT,將在今(2019)年慶祝40週年慶,7月13日將舉行西洋老歌音樂會,邀請樂迷一同回顧聆聽ICRT的時刻,就像優美的樂音,滲透時光,穿越歷史,只有ICRT。               

相關文章

近期文章

英文

Cultural Bridge to America

Esther Tseng /photos courtesy of ICRT /tr. by Jonathan Barnard

International Community Radio Taipei—better known as ICRT—is Taiwan’s only English-­language radio station. It was founded 40 years ago at a pivotal moment in the nation’s diplomatic history. For four decades, it has been issuing news updates on the hour, as well as weather and traffic reports, helping Taiwanese and foreigners alike to understand major international events and prepare to go out and about. The American-style station, which also broadcasts a variety of Western pop music, has enriched Taiwan’s culture and nurtured people’s souls.

 


 

“This is ICRT, FM 100.” The station’s tag line is voiced before playing “Castle on the Hill” by Ed Sheeran, who is visiting Taiwan on his April tour. To a rocking beat, “Redhead Ed” sings of sweet memories of youth, helping both expats and locals to pass the day in easygoing content­ment—not unlike ICRT itself.

A fruit of changing US-Taiwan relations

ICRT’s forerunner was a US military station: Armed Forces Network Taiwan.

Pat Torguson, daughter of an American airman, recalls that as a result of the shelling of Kin­men (Que­moy) by the PRC that began on August 23, 1958, the US Air Force base in Tai­nan was in a continuous state of high alert, and its personnel had to pay constant attention to AFNT broadcasts. She remembers that each time one of the station’s broadcasters said, “The pepper is hot. I say again, the pepper is hot,” her father would, without uttering a word, get up, put on his uniform and promptly leave for the base.

AFNT was the sole channel for American military and foreign diplomats, as well as their families, to hear Western popular music. And it wasn’t just foreigners: Whether for blues-inflected rock music by Elvis Presley, “Let It Be” by the chart-topping Beatles, or “American Pie” by Don McLean, AFNT was also where young Taiwanese tuned their dials during the martial-­law era when searching for freedom and dreaming of distant places.

On New Year’s Day in 1979, the US and the ROC broke off diplomatic relations, and the station prepared to cease broadcasting. According to standard procedures, the US military was expected to ship all broadcasting equipment back to the United States. Admiral James Linder, the last commander of the US Taiwan Defense Command, convinced the US government to “sell” the equipment for a symbolic US$1 to the ROC government, which then leased it to ICRT. 

Shortly before midnight on April 16, 1979, to the sound of the national anthems of the United States and the Repub­lic of China, AFNT ceased broadcasting. Then, right at midnight, Robert P. Parker, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei, announced, “ICRT is on the air.” It has continued to broadcast ever since.

Timely news, uninterrupted service

ICRT helped to dampen the shock associated with the breaking of diplomatic relations. Adopting a non-profit status, the station began broadcasting news in English as well as playing Western pop music, bearing a mission to promote US‡Taiwan cultural exchange.

ICRT’s general manager Tim Berge started out broadcasting news and traffic reports at the station. “We were very timely in reporting international and sports news and were often a news source for other media,” he notes. For instance, he recalls reporting on George H.W. Bush’s trip to Japan, describing how the US president grew ill and suddenly vomited on Japanese prime minis­ter Ki­ichi Mi­ya­zawa’s lap. Not only was Berge the first to report on the news in Taiwan, he even took calls from television stations inquiring about the incident.

Even now, when Internet media can be accessed almost anywhere, ICRT is still holding firm to its mission of serving foreigners in Taiwan and fostering cultural exchange with the West. During the run-up to important inter­national elections, such as US presidential elections, ICRT reminds foreign residents to send in their absentee ballots.

For foreigners in Taiwan, the station’s weather and traffic reports are also important sources of information. In 2001, when Typhoon Nari hit Greater Taipei hard, the Blue (Ban­nan) Line of the MRT was flooded and put out of operation for three months. “Back then we were in the Broadcasting Corporation of China building on Song­jiang Road, and all the equipment was submerged in water,” recalls Tim Berge in fluent Chinese. “The BCC went off air for a day, but ICRT only stopped broadcasting for an hour. That was because ICRT’s general manager hurried up to our radio transmitter on Yang­ming­shan with a CD player, and started making shows from there.” The dedicated spirit of ICRT’s engineers and DJs kept the station on air through the strong winds and heavy rains.

Musical variety, youthful spirit

An audience poll by ICRT in 1979 showed that 65% of the station’s listeners were foreigners, but since the 1980s, according to Neilsen surveys, more than 90% of ICRT’s audience have been Taiwanese.

That an English-language station would nonetheless attract many Taiwanese listeners is mainly a result of ICRT broadcasting live shows of Western music, as well as chart countdown shows and special jazz, soul, and dance programming on the weekends, which attract hardcore fans of Western popular music. 

ICRT’s live shows have accompanied many listeners through their youths. The late David Wang didn’t major in English or another foreign language, and he didn’t go overseas to study. But his authentic-sounding American accent helped him to become an ICRT DJ. He became a station legend, an idol to many listeners.

Learning English by listening

ICRT’s top host today is Joseph Lin, who originally planned on working at the station for two years before returning to the United States. In the blink of an eye, he’s been in front of the station’s microphones for 20 years. With his magnetic, charming voice, Lin says: “That’s because I’m doing what I’ve loved to do ever since I was small: finding and listening to music. I even get free CDs from record labels. Imagine a fashion lover who was able to get free clothes to wear every day!” What could be more enticing than getting your dream job?

ICRT was the first radio station in Taiwan to take call-in requests. But it hasn’t stopped there: For ten years Joseph Lin has been making “surprise call-outs,” where at the request of listeners he calls people up to reveal secret crushes, to wish them happy birthday, to play songs in their honor or to prank them. These calls excite listeners and sometimes even move them to tears. “I’ve proposed marriage on listeners’ behalf at least 30 times.” A call from Joseph Lin often provokes a scream of delight, and this ever-popular segment has turned many people into faithful ICRT listeners.

ICRT is also an excellent channel for local students to learn English and practice their listening comprehension skills. With the development of social media, ICRT has gone on to launch online broadcasts and podcasts, allowing more listeners to listen and study English on their smartphones through the station’s app.

In 1993 the government took steps to open up the broadcasting industry. Facing competition from more and more channels, ICRT has held major outdoor events and organized community public interest activities to emphasize its local roots and bolster loyalty from listeners. Its We Love Hakka show, with its lively and easygoing style, has become one of the best mediums for introducing Hakka culture. ICRT’s annual singles parties, Halloween parties, and bike days are en­thusi­astic­ally welcomed by listeners and DJs alike and help to build relationships between them.

As the leading broadcaster of Western music in Taiwan, ICRT has worked hard at developing new shows and programs. Its “Battle of the Bands” activity was first held in 2007. Deputy general manager Ding Yu points out that ICRT has contributed its channel and programming to spotlight outstanding independent bands and musicians. After being “discovered,” champions of those battles have gone on to bright performing careers.

Born the same year as the Taiwan Relations Act, ICRT is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2019. On July 13, it will hold a concert of Western music, inviting fans to gather and reminisce about their experiences listening to the station over the years. The concert will bear witness to how beautiful music makes a mark on history and transcends eras, and will spotlight the station’s unique history. As the station’s slogan goes: “Only on ICRT!” 

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