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“Dave Rabbit” – Radio First Termer – Saigon 1971 (Part 1)

We are all familiar with American Forces Vietnam Network (AFVN) radio, that broadcast the Dawnbuster Show. AFVN broadcasts were highly censored by the U.S. Government and Military playing mainly bubble gum rock music, instead of what the troops really wanted to listen too – Hard Acid Rock and Roll.

In 1971 “Dave Rabbit” changed that … with his broadcast of “Radio First Termer”.

Those of you who went back to Viet-nam as U.S. Government or Military personnel may remember this short lived radio station – The Big 69FM.

The “Dave Rabbit” Story

Radio First Termer was an underground Pirate Radio Station which broad-casted nightly from January 1, 1971 to January 21, 1971 from Saigon during the Vietnam War. Radio First Termer was hosted by on-air personality “Dave Rabbit,” an anonymous United States Air Force sergeant. The two other members of the crew were known as “Pete Sadler” and “Nguyen”. Their real names are unknown.

”Dave Rabbit”, who is greatly considered as the Godfather of Pirate Radio, began his radio career in Vietnam working as a studio engineer for Radio Phan Rang. After three tours in Vietnam, “Dave Rabbit” and his friends launched Radio First Termer from a secret studio in a backroom of a Saigon brothel. The make-shift studio walls were lined with mattresses to deaden the sounds emanating from the brothel. The station broad-casted for a total of 63 hours over 21 nights (between January 1, 1971 to January 21, 1971). “Dave Rabbit” later admitted in an interview, that he was forced to stop broadcasting because he was fearful that his friends, who were protecting him and the show, were in imminent danger of being arrested and imprisoned themselves by his base commander, who hated his show and suspected that someone was protecting him.

The purpose of Radio First Termer, according to “Dave Rabbit”, was to “bring rock and roll to the troops on the front lines.” The station played “hard acid rock” such as Steppenwolf, Bloodrock, Three Dog Night, Led Zeppelin, Sugarloaf, the James Gang, and Iron Butterfly, bands which were popular among the troops but largely ignored by the American Forces Vietnam Network (AFVN). The music was mixed with antiwar commentary, skits poking fun at the U.S. Air Force and Lyndon B. Johnson. Raunchy sex and drug oriented jokes were a tremendous part of the nightly shows. “Dave Rabbit’s” show also included a number of bits including “Tooth Picks In The Toilet” and reading GI comments off the latrine walls across Vietnam.

Although the frequency was always announced as FM69, “Dave Rabbit” has said in several interviews, in reality the show was broadcast over numerous frequencies. In addition to 69 MHz FM as selected by “Dave Rabbit”, the Radio Relay troops across Vietnam also broad-casted Radio First Termer over other frequencies, including 690 AM.

In 1995 Will Snyder first posted sound clips from a Radio First Termer broadcast on the Internet renewing interest in “Dave Rabbit” and Radio First Termer. In February 2006, after finding out that the surviving show was posted on the Internet, “Dave Rabbit” came forward and told his story to several main stream media personalities including Corey Deitz with About Radio. Dave also did an interview with Director David Zeiger for a bonus feature on the DVD release of Sir! No Sir!, who had used some of his clips for the movie. Sir! No Sir!, was a Documentary Film dealing with G.I. counterculture and anti-war sentiment during the Vietnam era. On February 20, 2008, “Dave Rabbit” was interviewed on the Opie and Anthony Show from New York City. Opie and Anthony were long time Fans of “Dave Rabbit” and had come across their copy of the surviving 1971 show and tracked Dave down. Original clips from Dave’s radio show were featured and continued the renewing interest in Radio First Termer and “Dave Rabbit”.

Dave Rabbit has become a legend having only broadcast 21 shows 37 years ago – today he has a following of over 23 Million fans.

Below is the first in a series of videos I’ll be posting of the “Opie and Anthony Show” interview with “Dave Rabbit”.

(Note: This is the censored version of the show. Trust me the uncensored version would be a bit too much to post here on our Blog. If you are offended by military language and humor – you may not want to watch this video – even though it has been sanitized considerably.)

Opie and Anthony Show – Dave Rabbit Interview – Part I

If any of you want a copy of the complete uncensored only remaining Radio First Termer Show on MP3 – email me and I’ll send you a copy via email.

As always, you are welcome to leave your Comments below.


6 comments to “Dave Rabbit” – Radio First Termer – Saigon 1971 (Part 1)

  • Randy Seely

    Awesome clip! In 1971, I crosstrained into AFRTS (from being a morse code operator in Security Service) and attended the Defense Information School (DINFOS) in Indianapolis. I remember, in a couple classes, instructors talking about in-country sensitivities, and what you could-and-couldn’t-get-away-with-saying, including personal comments about where you were stationed. One instructor specifically mentioned Dave Rabbit…a loose cannon…who, at the time, of course, was the antithesis of what AFRTS was trying to do, since AFRTS espoused ‘the party line.’ I never quite understood what he was talking about… until now…almost 40 yrs later! I’m very happy you posted this, Bob…because when overseas during my career, I was always interested in ‘pirate radio.’ Dave Rabbit, though only doing what he did for a very short time, can really be considered a positive influence on the morale of people who were caught up in the experience of Vietnam. Agree or not…he provided something to American troops who truly needed a morale boost. Thanks for posting this! Best wishes…Randy

    • Admin

      Randy glad you enjoyed the first clip. There are 5 more in the series. Once the series gets to the actual interview with Dave Rabbit – you’ll understand why he started Radio First Termer. He had a VERY compelling reason!!

      Stay tuned for more of Dave Rabbit – Pete – and Nguyen (pronounced ‘new gen’ – lol). Nguyen was gal in the crew.

      Rock on … 🙂

      Bob (known to be slightly demented at times – ha ha ha)

  • Bob, I would love a copy of the show. Please e-mail me one. Thanks.

  • Kenn

    Used to party hard in Germany and Amsterdam in 82 – 86 to the tunes of Radio first termer on cassette tapes. Lousy quality but we did not care. It was GREAT radio, unbeatable . Thanks Dave for the good times

  • Scott Murray

    Bob if you could email me a copy of it it would be greatly appreciated.

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