Staff Sgt. Sharifa Newton and Staff Sgt. Page Sevilla work the board at AFN Vicenza during a recent morning show. Their broadcasts, now heard at 105.3 FM and on the AFN Go app, offer local news and information, setting them apart from other music and entertainment programs.
Staff Sgt. Sharifa Newton and Staff Sgt. Page Sevilla work the board at AFN Vicenza during a recent morning show. Their broadcasts, now heard at 105.3 FM and on the AFN Go app, offer local news and information, setting them apart from other music and entertainment programs. (Photo Credit: Scavetta, Richard (Rick) A., CIV USARMY IMCOM EUROPE (US)) VIEW ORIGINAL

VICENZA, Italy – American Forces Network radio broadcasts are now on 105.3 FM, a long-awaited move that makes it easier for Americans to hear local news and their favorite music.

For decades, AFN “The Eagle” was on 106 FM, a frequency unreachable on American car radios, said AFN Vicenza’s station manager Sgt. 1st Class Alex Henninger, 33, of Madison, Wisconsin.

“A lot of people ship their cars over here from the States and they couldn’t get AFN,” Henninger said. “It goes out of sight and out of mind.”

Two Italians at AFN Naples – a station that also faced the issue – found out how to change their frequency, Henninger said, paving the way for AFN Vicenza to switch. After some paperwork and negotiations with a Veneto radio station owner, AFN “The Eagle” would move to 105.3 FM, previously filled by Radio Gelosa.

The move is a big change for AFN Vicenza, which operates from U.S. Army Garrison Italy’s Caserma Ederle. By mid-December, the deal was done.

“It was a nice surprise. As of the signing of the paperwork, 105.3 was ours right then and there,” Henninger said. “So many people worked on this, going above and beyond. I was the lucky one to be here to take it across the finish line.”

Soldiers from AFN Vicenza share the news with community members at the Caserma Ederle post exchange that AFN The Eagle has a new frequency, 105.3 FM.
Soldiers from AFN Vicenza share the news with community members at the Caserma Ederle post exchange that AFN The Eagle has a new frequency, 105.3 FM. (Photo Credit: Scavetta, Richard (Rick) A., CIV USARMY IMCOM EUROPE (US)) VIEW ORIGINAL

Broadcasts on 105.3 FM began on Dec. 23. That immediacy meant getting the word out quickly. The crew took to the streets, passing out information at the post exchange and discussing the switch with community members. They promoted the change on the air and through social media.

“This is a station of 99-percent noncommissioned officers,” Henninger said. “We’re going to get the word out and let people know what’s up.”

Changing the frequency is part of a larger effort to reintroduce AFN Vicenza, following downsizing and the COVID-19 pandemic. When Henninger arrived in October 2021, AFN Vicenza was operating on a skeleton crew – five Soldiers working from a trailer – broadcasting from a studio amid a construction site. Word was, their station was set to close.

Then, AFN changed strategies – keeping AFN Vicenza open and increasing its personnel. AFN Vicenza Soldiers personalized their renovated station. They added an afternoon show and brought a new spark to their morning show. Each morning, Staff Sgt. Page Sevilla, 30, Washington, D.C., who goes by the moniker “DJ Dadeo,” takes to the mike.

“We compete with the modern alternatives to radio by integrating our show with social media,” Sevilla said. “We ask a question of the day and interact with audience. We also reach out by having guests from the community on the show.”

AFN Vicenza’s increased presence in the community is great for Soldiers, civilians and families to be aware of garrison events, activities and service updates, said Col. Matthew Gomlak, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Italy.

“We have a talented group of Soldiers who work tirelessly each day to create professional broadcasts that inform and entertain our community. I am a listener and a fan,” Gomlak said. “This new frequency will greatly enhance their efforts.”

But, the challenge remains – how to increase listenership when many people stream music from their smart phones. AFN now offers a mobile app “AFN Go” (afngo.net) that provides listeners with music, news and more.

Renovated studios at AFN Vicenza welcome community members on air as guest for the AFN The Eagle morning and afternoon shows at Caserma Ederle. The station now broadcasts on 105.3 FM and on the AFN Go app.
Renovated studios at AFN Vicenza welcome community members on air as guest for the AFN The Eagle morning and afternoon shows at Caserma Ederle. The station now broadcasts on 105.3 FM and on the AFN Go app. (Photo Credit: Scavetta, Richard (Rick) A., CIV USARMY IMCOM EUROPE (US)) VIEW ORIGINAL

AFN Vicenza shares current messages from The Garrison Outlook, the community’s mobile news site, plus the garrison’s community calendars. Local units and organizations routinely share updates. Many Italians listen to AFN The Eagle to practice their English and hear popular songs from America – a boost to community relations.

“Our DJs have come into their own and turned into phenomenal on-air personalities. They’re hilarious, personable and fun to listen to,” Henninger said. “We are trying to keep it hyper-local, relevant, fun, entertaining and most importantly keep our highly unique audience informed about what’s going on the community.”

For more information www.afneurope.net/stations/vicenza