AFN Okinawa building gets facelift

by Dave Ornauer
Stripes Okinawa

CAMP FOSTER – AFN Okinawa will celebrate their return to normal operations this month with a ribbon cutting May 23 at their newly renovated building.

“So many people did so much to get us to this point,” AFN Okinawa station manager Air Force Master Sgt. Colleen Jones said. “We can have a nice work environment and really serve the community fully, as we were meant to do.”

AFN Okinawa’s facility, Building 4236, began its life in the early 1950s as Club Stateside, operated by the Army on Okinawa. It eventually became home to the old Far East Network Okinawa (becoming AFN Okinawa on Feb. 18, 1994), housing FEN Surf 648-AM, Wave 89.1-FM and TV Channel 8.

Over the years, the building’s insides deteriorated and the number of work orders over the decades began piling up, to the point where the innards of the building needed a total overhaul.

The renovating, originally scheduled for one year, ended up taking three years to complete. During that time the station moved to a temporary facility next door with desks and equipment virtually bumping against one another.

“We were all right on top of one another,” said Senior Airman Tory Cusimano, AFN Okinawa’s radio section supervisor. “(The new facility) is awesome; quadruple the size of the temporary building.”

AFN Okinawa’s new quarters will be a live-in, work-in environment. Serivce members assigned to the station and their Japanese support staff could stay for as long as three weeks in the event of a natural disaster such as a typhoon or earthquake.

The building features FM and AM radio studios, a TV studio and all the amenities of home: a women’s and men’s bunk room with six beds each, a full-service kitchen with refrigerator, stove and microwave ovens, a laundry room, shower stalls and lockers, and even a fitness center.

“We could live here if we needed to for a while,” said Jones. “We won’t have to make do with just microwaving some ramen like we did before.”

The facility also includes a conference room and office space for everybody from Jones to the station operations and maintenance managers. Everything from the rest rooms to the front entrance is handicapped-accessible.

“We couldn’t be more excited about it,” AFN Okinawa maintenance manager Tech Sgt. Robert Duenas said. “We’re happy they were able to … give us all the fancy new toys to play with.”

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