John Lansing is the CEO of the governing body in charge of the government-funded Voice of America news service.
He talks with Steve Inskeep about the agency’s operations under the new administration.
(Source: VOA News)
A little more than seven weeks after the United States officially entered World War II, a live, 15-minute shortwave radio broadcast was transmitted into Germany from a small studio in New York City on February 1, 1942.
It was introduced by the American patriotic song “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Then, announcer William Harlan Hale’s voice could be heard saying: “We bring you Voices from America. Today, and daily from now on, we shall speak to you about America and the war. The news may be good for us. The news may be bad. But we shall tell you the truth.”
That was the very first broadcast from what, 75 years later, is now the Washington-headquartered Voice of America.
By the end of the war, VOA was broadcasting in 40 languages, with programming consisting of music, news and commentary.
Since then, VOA has grown into a multimedia international broadcasting service, with programming and content in 47 languages on multiple platforms, including radio, television and mobile.
On that first broadcast, announcer Hale’s words set the standard for future programs.
?And since 1976, his words have carried the weight of the VOA Charter, which by law requires VOA to “serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news.” What’s more, it says VOA news must “be accurate, objective and comprehensive.”
“It’s been 75 years since we first began broadcasting objective news and information around the world,” said VOA Director Amanda Bennett. “And now, I think what we do here is more important than ever.”
Over the years, VOA correspondents and freelance reporters in many parts of the world have been on the scene to cover major world events.
In 1989, VOA East European correspondent Jolyon Naegele reported on demonstrations in Czechoslovakia and the fall of the communist government. Later that year, on the other side of the world, VOA increased programming and added staff to its Beijing bureau to cover the student-led demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. Beijing Bureau chief Al Pessin was expelled from China for his reporting.
Today, VOA broadcasts news and other programming through 2,500 television and radio affiliates around the world. At the same time, it provides content for mobile devices and interacts with audiences through social media.
As of 2016, VOA’s weekly audience across all platforms averaged more than 236 million people worldwide.
Check out more information on our VOA 75th anniversary page.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Alexander (DL4NO), who writes:
I just heard a short feature on Deutschlandfunk: 75 years ago today VoA started transmitting – in German.
Many thanks for the tip, Alexander!
The Deutschlandfunk article, of course, is in German. I found, that Google Translate did an acceptable job translating it into English.
(Source: US Embassy in Sri Lanka)
The United States values its strong relationship with Sri Lanka and our bilateral partnership over the past 60 years. The Iranawila shortwave station, managed by an independent U.S. agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), is an example of this partnership. The shortwave station has transmitted Voice of America programs from Washington through shortwave radio signals to audiences around the world, bringing them news, music, and special interest programs about the United States. Without the support of Sri Lankan governments over many years, Voice of America could not have succeeded in its mission of telling America’s story to the world.
Over time, however, the audience for shortwave broadcasts has diminished. People are increasingly turning to other sources of news and information – including, but not limited to FM radio, satellite television, websites, and social media – often delivered via mobile phones. The BBG is committed to reaching audiences on their preferred media. Given changing audience habits and the increasing costs of operating shortwave transmission stations, the BBG decided to close the Iranawila station.
The land where the station is located was leased from, and is being returned to, the Government of Sri Lanka. During the time of its operation, the U.S. government has developed the Iranawila property, building roads, clearing and levelling the land, building drainage canals, fences, and modern office buildings. The U.S. government has also installed service connections to public utilities and 4.2Mw of onsite self-generated power. All of these improvements have significantly increased the property’s value, and the flexibility of the site to serve many roles in the future. The United States government is returning with gratitude its lease of over 400 acres of property in Iranawila back to the Government of Sri Lanka in its entirety, including any and all improvements.
Voice of America provides trusted and objective news and information in 47 languages to a measured weekly audience of more than 236.6 million people around the world. For nearly 75 years, VOA journalists have told American stories and supplied objective news and information about the US, their region and the world. For more information on VOA – www.voanews.com
BERKELEY TOWNSHIP — The mysterious poles have stood in the open marshland off Good Luck Point for nearly 80 years, but sometime in January these local landmarks will finally be removed.
“We’re still working with the contractor to determine the exact start time,” said Virginia Rettig, a spokeswoman for the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. “This is a little more difficult than the typical project, as we’re trying to be sensitive to the marsh surface.”
The Good Luck Point poles – and a similar pole field in Stafford’s Manahawkin section – were part of inactive shortwave antenna fields used by AT&T for ship-to-shore shortwave communications.
They’ve become a familiar landmark for boaters, fishermen and residents of the area, and can be seen from the bayside in Seaside Heights and Seaside Park.
The antenna field was in operation from the early 1930s until 1999. A shuttered building on the Good Luck Point portion of the antenna field contained equipment related to shortwave communications.
Under the call sign WOO, the shortwave facility at Good Luck Point (known as Ocean Gate) was a renowned transmitting station, which helped broadcast Voice of America around the globe after 1944 and enabled communication with ships at sea throughout the 20th century, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
According to federal officials, about 340 poles will be removed from the Berkeley site, along with several metal antennae.
In Manahawkin, about 113 wooden poles will be removed from the antenna field. Several metal antennas will also be removed.
Check out this excellent video–an aerial view of Good Luck Point: