Adrian Cronauer

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Adrian Cronauer
Cronauer in 1999
Adrian Joseph Cronauer

(1938-09-08)September 8, 1938
DiedJuly 18, 2018(2018-07-18) (aged 79)
Resting placeSouthwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery, Dublin, Virginia, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Pittsburgh[2]
OccupationRadio personality, lawyer
Known forGood Morning, Vietnam (1987)
Jeane Steppe
(m. 1980; died 2016)
Military career
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branch United States Air Force
RankE4 USAF SAM.svg Sergeant[4]
UnitArmed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS)

Adrian Joseph Cronauer (September 8, 1938 – July 18, 2018) was a United States Air Force Airman 1st Class and radio personality whose experiences as an innovative disc jockey on American Forces Network during the Vietnam War inspired the 1987 film Good Morning, Vietnam starring Robin Williams as Cronauer.[5][6][7]

Background in radio[edit]

Cronauer was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He began his broadcasting career at the age of 12 as a guest for a Pittsburgh-area children's amateur hour.[8] He attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he helped found the forerunner of the university's college radio station WPTS-FM.[9][10]

Military service[edit]

Cronauer chose to enlist instead of waiting on the draft in the early 1960s. After deliberating about entering flight training (which entailed a longer service commitment), Cronauer chose broadcasting and media operations, ultimately becoming a U.S. Air Force Radio and Television Broadcasting Specialist.[4] His service spanned the years from 1963 to 1967. He eventually rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant [E-5]. While Cronauer is most known for his service in Vietnam, he was previously stationed at Iraklion Air Station, Crete, Greece.[11]

Good Morning, Vietnam[edit]

In the late 1970s, Cronauer had an idea for a television sitcom that would be a blend of M*A*S*H and WKRP in Cincinnati, two popular TV series of that era. It was not until some years later that he was able to elicit interest in the proposal which became the film Good Morning, Vietnam starring Robin Williams as Cronauer.[11] The movie was based on his experiences as a Saigon-based DJ during the Vietnam War, where he served from 1965 to 1966.[12] His program was known as the Dawn Buster. According to Cronauer, other than the film's portrayal of him being a radio host, little of the film reflects his experiences,[13] except the bombing of a restaurant for which Cronauer was a nearby witness.[14] A subsequent special program on National Public Radio about the role of the American Forces Vietnam Network (AFVN-military radio and television) earned Cronauer and two 1991 Gold Medals from the New York Radio Festival.

Personal life and death[edit]

Cronauer's grave

Cronauer attended the University of Pittsburgh where he led a group that founded the school's first student radio station, now WPTS-FM.[15] His subsequent media work included being the classical morning host at WVWR in Roanoke, Virginia (now Virginia Tech's WVTF),[16] during which time he created the proposal that would culminate in Good Morning, Vietnam.

He earned a master's degree in Media Studies from the New School for Social Research in New York City and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Cronauer's law practice concentrated in information and communications law. Cronauer consented to disbarment in the District of Columbia in October 2014 for reportedly misleading consumers through misrepresentations and deceptive and fraudulent loan modification and foreclosure prevention practices.[17] Later he worked as a special assistant to the director of the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office.[18][19][20]

Cronauer was a member of Mensa[21] and a "lifelong card-carrying Republican", having taken an "active role" in both Bob Dole's 1996 unsuccessful presidential campaign and George W. Bush's 2004 successful presidential reelection campaign.[5]

Cronauer died on July 18, 2018, at his home in Western Virginia at the age of 79.[1]

Military awards[edit]

Width=44 scarlet ribbon with a central width-4 golden yellow stripe, flanked by pairs of width-1 scarlet, white, Old Glory blue, and white stripes
Bronze star
1st Row
Air Force Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
with bronze service star
2nd Row
Air Force Longevity Service Award
Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Award
Vietnam Campaign Medal


  1. ^ a b Real-life 'Good Morning, Vietnam' DJ Adrian Cronauer dies at 79 accessed July 19, 2018
  2. ^ Schudel, Matt. "Adrian Cronauer, DJ who inspired 'Good Morning, Vietnam,' dies at 79". Washington Post. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
  3. ^ Adrian Cronauer biography accessed May 27, 2015
  4. ^ a b "Shadow box". Retrieved November 12, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Jim Barthold (March 1, 2005), The real life of Adrian Cronauer, Urgent Communications, archived from the original on May 9, 2012, retrieved January 13, 2013
  6. ^ Adrian Cronauer: Air Force Radio Announcer in Vietnam at
  7. ^ Beman, Don (January 2, 1988). "Deejay 'hero'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 15.
  8. ^ "Famous and Prominent Mensans". Archived from the original on September 1, 2006. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
  9. ^ "About - WPTS Radio". WPTS Radio. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  10. ^ Webteam, University of Pittsburgh University Marketing Communications. "Gooooood Morning, Pitt! | 225 Years | University of Pittsburgh". Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Adrian Cronauer: Air Force Radio Announcer in Vietnam | HistoryNet". Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  12. ^ "Adrian Cronauer is Conference Speaker!". Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies. 34 (1): 10–11. July 8, 2004. doi:10.1353/flm.2004.0012. Retrieved November 12, 2019 – via Project MUSE.
  13. ^ "Real-life 'Vietnam' DJ recalls Williams' portrayal". USA Today. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  14. ^ "Good Morning To The Real Adrian Cronauer". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  15. ^ "Pitt's New Radio Station". Skyscraper Engineer. Schools of Engineering and Mines, University of Pittsburgh. 8 (3): 16–17. January 1959. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
  16. ^ Times, Ralph Berrier Jr. | The Roanoke. "Cronauer in the country". Roanoke Times. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  17. ^ Profile,, October 2014; accessed January 4, 2016.
  18. ^ ""Good Morning, Vietnam's" Adrian Cronauer speaks to reservists". United States Air Force. April 11, 2008. Retrieved June 28, 2009.
  19. ^ Adrian Cronauer is Conference Speaker!,; accessed January 4, 2016.
  20. ^ " News Article: 'Mr. Good Morning, Vietnam' Working to Recover Remains". Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  21. ^ Prominent Mensans Archived May 26, 2019, at the Wayback Machine,; accessed January 4, 2016.

External links[edit]