America Supports You: Radio Host Talks Up Troops' Good Deeds
By Paul X. Rutz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 14, 2006 It took a personal connection to devote Bob Calvert to supporting America's troops, and now he says there's no turning back.
Calvert hosts a weekly radio talk show on Sunday evenings, broadcast mainly by Internet-based Stardust Radio. He said he has completed 20 interviews so far, averaging three or four guests per show. The first show aired Dec. 11, 2005.
"No question about it, my daughter enlisting in the Army was the spark for me," said Calvert in a telephone interview near Fort Carson, Colo. "Once I realized she was serious ... and she was really going in because she believed it was the right thing to do, then I just told her ... I'm going to support you 100 percent."
With no previous connection to the military, in 2003 he quit his job in Kansas City, moved to be near Fort Riley, Kan., where his daughter was stationed at the time, and devoted himself full time to helping the troops. Eventually, after sponsoring concerts and care package events at his own expense, he started his talk show.
"Every Sunday night, I interview men and women in the military so they can share their stories about what they did to help the Iraqi or the Afghan people, or anywhere in the world," Calvert said. He has also hosted guests who talked about stateside operations like the effort to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.
His next interview, April 16, will be with the editor of "GX: The Guard Experience" magazine, which will preview a National Guard feature to come in late May. Calvert also hopes to take his show on the road to military bases across the country as soon as he can find the money.
Calvert said his work offers him the chance to help other civilians supporting the nation's servicemembers. "Other groups are doing this, but I'm trying to get them to work together where I can actually help them get more visible," he said. "I really feel strongly about alliances."
As a connector between grassroots groups, Calvert compared himself to America Supports You, a defense department program offering a Web site that highlights grassroots and corporate support for the nation's servicemembers and their families.
He mentioned "Soldiers' Angels" as the group he partners with most often. Together, they have teamed up to co-sponsor concerts, banner events and other efforts, especially for troops returning to Fort Carson, which is a stone's throw from his current home.
Other groups Calvert works with include "Operation Troop Appreciation," "Freedom Fund," "SI Yellow Ribbon," "Operation Gratitude" and "Hats off America."
Funding the radio show has been difficult so far, and he is constantly looking for reliable sponsorship, he said. But the program is becoming more popular. In March, for instance, the show had over 33,000 listeners, and AM radio stations, such as WYMM in Jacksonville, Fla., are starting to pick it up.
Calvert said his most memorable interviews happen in moods of intense emotion. "The ones that get me the most, the hardest ones, are probably the moms I'm interviewing that have lost a loved one," he said. "Those are rough, and I just feel for them."
Other interviews fill him with pride, "like the chief warrant officers we've had on. We've had three of them now, and I mean the stories of what they've done in Afghanistan and Iraq are just incredible," he said, noting the millions of dollars worth of goods shipped to school children in those areas. "As Americans, we all agree to support the troops," he said. "But there are still thousands of wounded soldiers back home, and they or their families need help. There are families that have lost a loved one. They still need help."