GI Jive, “The AEF Jukebox of the Air”, was a 15-minute radio program transmitted by the Armed Forces Radio Service for entertainment of soldiers in World War II. It used the Disc Jockey format, playing (mostly Jazz) hits of the day, mixing original commercialy released 78 rpm records, and transcribed live performances. It opened and closed with extracts of “At the Jazz Band Ball” by Muggsy Spanier and his Ragtime Band, recorded for Bluebird in 1939. The program was recorded in Los Angeles, initially five days a week, then six days a week, and transcribed onto 16″ vinyl records that were distributed to the Pacific, Europe and Africa, then broadcast over short-wave. These records were obviously not available to the public, and it is hard to tell how many were pressed and how many survived. It is also hard to tell how many G.I. Jive programs were recorded – but at least a couple of thousand !

G.I. Jive initially featured a guest DJ for each broadcast; some were civilian celebrities, while others were servicemen. But from May 1943, it featured its definitive host, personified as G.I. Jill, “probably the most popular performer on AFRS, and certainly the one who made the biggest impact on the troops’ morale.” [1], “universally credited with being the No. 1 overseas attraction” [2]

Jill‘s real name was Martha Wilkerson, but she never gave it on the air, nor that she was married and had two daughters. She previously had a radio show with her husband as Jake and Jill on “Hi Neighbor”, an OWI program. She moved to AFRS alone, and somehow created G.I. Jill, the girl with a friendly talk that reminded the men overseas “the girl back home”.
On the following programs, recorded sometimes in 1944, you’ll hear her talk, laugh, introducing the songs, the requests from enlisted men, giving rules for games to be played during breaks on the front…It was her daily job to boost the troups’ morale and did it like no other.

Hi-ya, fellas! This is GI Jill with the GI Jive.

G.I. Jive N° 585

Stan Kenton “Old Man River”
Xavier Cugat “Si si”
Woody Herman “Woodchopper’s Ball”
Harry James “King Porter Stomp”

G.I. Jive N°586

Louis Armstrong “Esquire Blues”
Bob Crosby “In A Minor Mood”
Kay Kyser “Just A Haven”
Bing Crosby “Put Your Arms Around Me Honey”
Harry James “Back Beat Boogie”

G.I. Jive N°595

(Unmaned band) “Get Happy”
Bob Crosby “Bullfrog Jump”
Bing Crosby “By the Light of the Silvering Moon”
Jimmy Dorsey “Perdido”

G.I. Jive N°596

David W Davis “I’m Coming Virginia”
Andy Kirk “47th Street Jive”
Trudy Erwin & Bing Crosby “Wait For Me Marie”
Bob Crosby “Take It Easy”
Benny Goodman “After You’ve gone”

[1] Patrick Morley This Is the American Forces Network: The Anglo-American Battle of the Air Waves in World War II. Praeger Publishers, 2001.
[2] Paul Gould The Armed Forces Networks: Broadcasting Systems that Reach Our Boys — Even in Foxholes, 1945 (PDF).

See also: 124 G.I. Jive radio show recordings are available at Old Time Radio Catalog. G.I. Jill on Wikipedia.

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