From the Stacks: Lights, Camera, Action!


In this photograph, young girls in costume perform for a camera crew.

Can you identify the people in this photo? Do you know what these girls were performing? Do you know which year this might have been? Where might this have been broadcasted? How did television differ in the Canal Zone from what you would see in the mainland United States?

Make sure to join us for the 2018 Panama Canal Society Reunion in Orlando from June 27 – July 1, 2018, where there will be an exhibit about popular culture in the Panama Canal Zone on display. See more information and register here: https://www.pancanalsociety.org/reunion.html. We hope to see you there!


  • John Voelpel

    The two guys behind the camera were in uniform. I would bet that they were broadcasting from SCN or Southern Command Network.

  • Bob Dillon

    CFN logo on side of camera. Caribbean Forces Network. Precursor to Southern Command Network. The authority on SCN history is probably Jim Kresge, AFRTS.

  • Pam Maedl Gutowski

    It looks like Mary Morland, Steffi Beck, and Sandra Motta, with Dale Scott in the front! They were cheerleaders for CHS and I believe Dale was a mascot. Mary and Sandra graduated with my sister, Pat Maedl, from CHS in 1957, so this picture was probably taken around that time or earlier. Steffi was a year or two younger. Her dad, Paul Beck, was the principal.

  • Carlos Rodgers

    In 1941, the American Forces Radio and Television (AFRTS) services initiated the first radio station outside the US in the Panama Canal area. In 1948, AFRTS acquired building 209 in Fort Clayton (Panama Canal) where they built new studios and became the Caribbean Forces Network (CFN). Black & white TV was added in 1956. In 1964, CFN transformed into the Southern Caribbean Network (SCN). Color TV & FM stereo radio were added in 1975.

    Subject picture; presents a group of Cristobal High School cheerleaders and their tiger mascot, being interviewed by the CFN TV station at the start of the local football season, probably late 50s or early 60s.

  • Carl N Berg of Cocoli

    AFRS/Armed Forces Radio Service, later AFRTS/Armed Forces Radio-Television Service, provided the operational support for first, CFN/Caribbean Forces Network, later SCN/Southern Command Network; housed, if my memory is accurate, in a two-story barracks-like building at Fort Clayton, located a very short distance inside the post’s security fence, adjacent to Gaillard Highway, actually, on the east side of the two-lane uphill (northbound) concrete highway to Red Tank and Pedro Miguel, and opposite the road entry to the Miraflores Locks dam and the electrical generating station at the south end of Miraflores Lake…Canned television was our lot during most of the 1950s, except for news and certain announcements, and we faithfully watched in black and white the World Series games in October, say, about a week later, already knowing, of course, the final scores…Joe Daley (sergeant?) was a popular disc jockey for my favorite (afternoon?) popular music program, The Pop Shop. Our alternate radio station for pop music was HOG in Panama City.
    —Carl N Berg of Cocoli, 1947-1966

  • Robert Baldwin

    Three television channels were available in the 1960’s. On the Pacific they were Channel 8, which was SCN, and then two Panamanian channels, 2 and 4. I remember my father saying that SCN had the capability to offer color TV long before it did, but because the Panamanian channels did not have it, SCN did not broadcast in color. One of the most striking difference between SCN and stateside TV, of course, is that we had not commercials. It was sort of fascinating watching the commercials when we were in the US on vacation.

  • Bob Dillon

    790 Pacific, 1420 Atlantic. AM Radio
    Channel 8 Pacific Channel 10 Atlantic
    Can’t remember the FM frequencies….yet.
    I think, 97.5 Pacific, 98.3 Atlantic

  • Bob Dillon

    SCN did not show commercials. Instead they played public service announcements (PSA’s). Many were the kind you’d see on broadcast Television in the USA. Some were made and shown worldwide exclusively on AFRTS, and some were locally made. We saw the Indian Crying – Keep America Beautiful, Smokey the Bear, Dick Van Dyke – Stop Drop and Roll. International Road Signs (AFRTS) – something something something, “don’t be fool. When you drive a car, man, drive cook!” (gotta find that one). But here’s a little earwig from the ’70 that pops in my brain every blue moon, because it is a world class ear wig and it ran soooo often. Lots of pre-pubescent giggles… Anyone in the CZ through the ’70’s will remember this one well.


    Ah the ’70’s

  • Bob Dillon

    Just one more typical PSA seen a million times on SCN. Except, I don’t remember ever seeing it in color until tonight. Color came late to us, and the old PSA’s (pre color transmitter) were, of course, in monochrome (including the VD PSA above). I’m still amazed when I see Wild Wild West in color. I had no idea it was so colorful. Blows my mind.


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