American Forces Network Television (AFN TV) is going to start sounding a lot different this August. Viewers will no longer hear the familiar, mellow baritone of Eric Tassill saying what’s coming up on AFN TV. He’s retiring.
Tassill, the AFN Broadcast Center’s Chief of Marketing and Promotion here on March Air Reserve Base, has been the most recognizable voice on the network since 1996. He lasted a lot longer than his military broadcast instructor, Sergeant First Class Monte Jones, thought he would. “Sergeant Jones told me in 1978 that my voice was never going to be good enough to pass the course,” said Tassill.
Tassill’s career with the Department of Defense started in 1974 when he joined the Army to become a radio teletype operator. “I wanted to become a broadcaster, but the recruiter told me it was next to impossible to get into,” Tassill said.
Tassill’s first military assignment was with an Army Security Agency unit in Augsburg, Germany. After nearly four years there, he took a train to AFN Munich, passed a voice audition then re-enlisted to become a military broadcast journalist.
Tassill served at the Far East Network Tokyo (now AFN Tokyo) and the U.S. Army Japan Public Affairs Office where he met his wife Keiko.
After leaving the Army for a variety of commercial radio jobs in California, Tassill rejoined the American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) in 1986 as a television equipment operator. He worked several jobs at AFRTS, eventually taking on his current position in 1996. On his watch, AFN grew from a single television channel into the current eight channel, 24/7 TV service.
Tassill conceptualized the familiar slogan “We bring you home” still heard on AFN TV today. “It has a double meaning,” he explained. “It not only means AFN brings television shows from the States to you, it also creates an emotional bond with our viewers that says, in a way, we’re bringing them back to the States to experience the same shows they’d see if they were living back in the U.S.”
While Tassill’s voice will soon be absent from the AFN airwaves, you could be hearing him in some unusual places. “I just did a voice with a Russian accent for a video game called the Stalker,” said Tassill. “My character is a trader called Sidorovich.” Tassill plans to keep active with both professional voice work and photography, his other passion.
The Department of Defense (DOD) operates AFN, a worldwide radio and television broadcast network, serving nearly one million American service men and women, DOD civilians and their families overseas, stationed at bases in 175 countries, as well as 140 U.S. Navy ships at sea. AFN broadcasts the most popular American radio and television programs from all the major networks. AFN is a service of the American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS), a field office of the Defense Media Activity (DMA). For more information about AFN’s programming, please visit www.myafn.net.