The Southern Command Network

The Armed Forces Network is the television branch of the Armed Forces Radio, which is the U.S military’s official radio channel. The organization’s origins date as far back as the 1940’s, a few years prior to World War II; this wasn’t a government initiative but rather local bases in different parts of Europe trying to send a little piece of home to the soldiers who were preparing for the inevitable invasion of a Nazi-occupied Europe, sending news and recorded radio shows of various interests, from soap operas to Buck Rogers and music. The first official branch of what would become the AFRS (Armed Forces Radio Service, founded in 1942) was in this very country, naturally in the Panama Canal Zone under station PCAN… it would later be swallowed up by the AFRS and in 1952, when the television branch of the organization was created then it became the AFRTS, or the Armed Forces Network (AFN) for short. How original.

In the 1960’s a lot of stuff happened, but what’s most important to this history lesson is that the Panama Canal command went through some shifting and during the mix-up the AFN became the Southern Command Network (SCN) with both TV and radio channels broadcasting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from Fort Clayton, right in the outskirts of Panama City. The SCN would also broadcast to troops stationed in Honduras during the late 80’s up until 1999, when they closed operations as part of the Torrijos-Carter deals that had the U.S give back the Panama Canal to us… so lets see: SCN’s first television broadcast was on May 9th, 1956 while it closed its doors December 31st, 1999. Not bad, considering it was the first TV channel available in the country; ironically, it was all in English so everybody that wasn’t military couldn’t understand a word of what they were watching… the broadcast schedule was as follows:

2:15 p.m.

Programa especial

2:30 p.m.


3:00 p.m.

Lluvia de estrellas

4:00 p.m.

Arthur Godfrey y sus amigos

5:00 p.m.

Salón de la Fama Hallmark

5:30 p.m.

Burns y Allen

6:00 p.m.


6:15 p.m.

Jane Froman

6:30 p.m.

Conferencia de Prensa Colegial

7:00 p.m.

Jack Benny

7:30 p.m.

Teatro de Directores de Cine

8:00 p.m.

Escogencia de la Ciudad

9:00 p.m.

Cita con la Aventura

10:00 p.m.

Readers Digest

10:30 p.m.

Vida con Papá

11:00 p.m.


11:05 p.m.

La Hora de la U.S.Steel

12:05 p.m.

Buenas noches

I’m done with the history lesson, but if you would like to know more about the SCN’s (as well as television in Panama) history you might want to click here; it’s in Spanish, but it’s very thorough and worth finding a translator. Anyway, my point is this: If you read this and many of my previous rants on the subject of politics or Panamanian history you’ll notice that the United States and us are intricately linked, whether we like it or not. I’ve come to realize that it’s a very touchy subject for generations past in the sense that people’s opinions concerning the U.S are very polarized, depending on who you talk to: my father, for example, is anti-American. Well, let me rephrase that because that’s not entirely true; he’s very resentful in regards to America and it’s government, specially if we talk about the 1989 invasion. He was shot at, treated like a criminal and was almost sent to jail along with my mom and that, along with the virtual genocide armed troops unleashed on the district of Chorrillo have left him with somewhat of a sore spot in regards to them. He gets to the point where it’s almost scary how anti-military he is and sometimes we have these conversations where I don’t know if he’s serious or just kidding:

Dad: “Hey Robert, guess what I saw on the news today?”

Rob (shrugging): “Whatcha see?”

Dad: “We took our 4 more soldiers in Iraq today.”

Rob: “Who’s ‘we?'”


Rob (confused, nervously snickering): “huh?”

Dad: “The gringos went in there for NOTHING and now they’re getting spray-canned like cockroaches!”

Rob: “Oh, God…”

Dad: “They’re all cold-blooded murderers, the lot of them! They don’t care about anyone! It was about time someone put them in their place and now they’re being killed off one by one in a meaningless war by an enemy much more capable than they are with their bombs and tanks… THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS, Robert!!!”

Rob: “It’s not the soldiers’ fault, though…”

Dad (out of his chair, arms blazin’): “They’re all coked up and all they can think about is ‘KILL, KILL, KILL!’ and that fucking Bush, it’s his fault! He’s made them that way and he’s sending them out to die for oil! Ridiculous! Hopefully they’ll realize soon they lost the war… they lost the war and they never should’ve gone there.”

Rob: “Uh-huh…”

Dad: “Did Bush’s father ever do anything to help the THOUSANDS of families that lost loved ones in 1989? Tell me, Robert! No, you couldn’t tell me because you were too small… almost 3,000 people dead and a whole community reduced to rubble and for what? Noriega wasn’t even near Chorrillo… they’re assassins, the scum of the earth! To this day, Robert! To this day no one’s ever mentioned what happened… I almost went to jail because of them. I got shot at because of them!!! I will never forget!”

This drives my mom up the frickin’ walls. His limitless supply of resentment and paranoia know no bounds, and whereas my mom has always liked American culture and the lifestyle and what not… quite a couple huh?

The Southern Command Network was probably the TV station I watched the most as a kid. It was the only station growing up that I could listen to programs in English and learn the accent, and the channel was packed to the gills with the most excellent cartoon lineup I have ever experienced, all in English. I was like a kid in a candy shop, watching stuff like the Thundercats, the Visionaries, MASK, honest-to-God awesome Looney Toons, the Centurions, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe… hell, they even had American Gladiators, Nickelodeon’s GUTS, and shows like Star Trek and Get Smart! I also saw my first movie with my dad in the history of my life when I was 5: Sergio Leone’s “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.” If you can’t tell already, I have pretty fond memories of the channel. As I grew up and my tastes in television were increasing in terms of scope I’d stay late and watch the late night talk shows that I’d be hooked on even to this day; first was the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, then was the Late Show with David Letterman and after that they aired the Late Late Show with some old dude who’s name I don’t remember but later it was replaced by Craig Kilborn. After them shows, I’d get Star Trek: The Next Generation. All in all it was fun, entertaining TV with stuff I was sure I wouldn’t find anywhere else whether it was local access or cable… It was just better. This leads me to my next point…

I will touch on this in tomorrow’s editorial but I’d like to point something out: whenever December 20th comes around (that’s the date when the Armed Forces blitzed the capital “looking for Noriega” in 1989) and the news crews take to the streets to ask the public if things in Panama are better now that the U.S is gone, the responses are very polarized… the subject draws many parallels to the way we do politics in this country or in any country for that matter: you’re either with us or against us. Many people think that the U.S should come back. Others pray to the Lord every day for ridding us of the U.S military but personally, I see 2 things: the Panama Canal is running just as great with us as when they had it, but the Panama Canal Zone areas are 5 times dirtier and unkept than they were when the troops were here. I suppose that for those who favor the notion of the U.S taking over again is because they put things in order and aren’t lazy or sloppy like we Panamanians are; which kind of explains why many Panamanians would like their big brother to come back and take care of them like in the good ol’ days. All I know is that the day SCN closed its broadcast a little part of me died. To quote the commercials the station would put come Friday and all through Sunday, from the Porto Diao Headquarters in the Town With No Name…



    … [Trackback]

    […] There you will find 24663 more Infos: […]

  • Hello! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website with us
    so I came to look it over. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this
    to my followers! Outstanding blog and wonderful design and style.

  • Greetings! Very useful advice within this post! It is the little changes that
    produce the greatest changes. Thanks for sharing!

  • It’s difficult to find educated people on this subject, however,
    you seem like you know what you’re talking about!

  • I have learn several excellent stuff here. Definitely price bookmarking for revisiting.
    I wonder how so much attempt you place to make any
    such fantastic informative site.

  • Incredible a good deal of wonderful advice!

  • I always emailed this blog post page to all my associates, because if like to read it afterward my
    contacts will too.

  • Hey there would you mind letting me know which
    web host you’re working with? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 completely different web browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker then most.
    Can you suggest a good internet hosting provider
    at a honest price? Cheers, I appreciate it!

  • Yes! Finally something about successful lotto.

  • Hello this is kinda of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG
    editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding
    experience so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  • Great goods from you, man. I have take into account
    your stuff previous to and you are just too great.
    I actually like what you’ve got here, really like
    what you are saying and the way wherein you are saying it.
    You are making it enjoyable and you still take
    care of to stay it sensible. I cant wait to learn far more from you.
    That is actually a terrific website.

  • Hi! This post could not be written any better! Reading this
    post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always
    kept chatting about this. I will forward this page to him.
    Pretty sure he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

  • Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I clicked submit my comment
    didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Anyhow, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

  • Hi there to every body, it’s my first pay a quick visit of this web site; this website contains remarkable and truly
    excellent information designed for readers.

  • Everything is very open with a really clear clarification of the issues.
    It was really informative. Your site is useful. Many thanks for sharing!

  • I am sure this paragraph has touched all the internet viewers, its
    really really fastidious article on building up new web site.

  • It’s very effortless to find out any matter on net as compared to
    textbooks, as I found this piece of writing at this website.

  • Hi there! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this website?
    I’m getting fed up of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m
    looking at options for another platform. I would be great if you could
    point me in the direction of a good platform.

  • I’ve been surfing online greater than three hours these days,
    but I by no means discovered any attention-grabbing article like
    yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all
    website owners and bloggers made excellent content material as you did, the web shall
    be much more useful than ever before.

  • There is definately a great deal to find out about this issue.
    I really like all of the points you made.

  • Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I’ve
    truly loved browsing your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing for your rss feed and I’m hoping
    you write once more soon!

  • Hi, I do believe this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I’m
    going to return once again since i have book-marked it.
    Money and freedom is the best way to change,
    may you be rich and continue to guide other people.

  • You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be
    really something which I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to
    get the hang of it!

  • Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article.
    I will make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post.

    I’ll certainly comeback.

  • I like the helpful info you provide to your articles. I’ll bookmark your
    weblog and check again right here frequently. I’m
    rather sure I will learn plenty of new stuff right here! Good luck for the following!

Leave a Reply