The Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) had its origins in the U.S. War Department's quest to improve troop morale. This quest began with short-wave broadcasts of educational and information programs to troops in 1940. In 1941, the War Department began issuing "Buddy Kits" (B-Kits) to departing troops, which consisted of radios, 78 RPM records and electrical transcription discs of radio shows. However, with the entrance of the United States into World War II, the War Department decided that it needed to improve the quality and quantity of its offerings.
This began with the broadcasting of its own original variety programs. Command Performance was the first of these, produced for the first time on March 1, 1942. On May 26, 1942, the Armed Forces Radio Service was formally established. Originally, its programming comprised network radio shows with the commercials removed. However, it soon began producing original programming, such as Mail Call, G.I. Journal, Jubilee and GI Jive. At its peak in 1945, the Service produced around 20 hours of original programming each week.
After the war, the AFRS continued providing programming to troops in Europe. In addition, it also provided programming for future wars that the United States was involved in. It survives today as a component of the American Forces Network (AFN).
All of the shows aired by the AFRS during the Golden Age were recorded as electrical transcription discs, vinyl copies of which were shipped to stations overseas to be broadcast to the troops. People in the United States rarely ever heard programming from the AFRS, though AFRS recordings of Golden Age network shows were occasionally broadcast on some domestic stations beginning in the 1950s.