Tag Archives: VOA Music Time in Africa

The Music Time in Africa Archive at the University of Michigan

(Source: Music Time in Africa Archive)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Zack Schindler (N8FNR), who writes:

If anyone wants to listen to archives of VOA’s Music Time in Africa many are now available. I received this email from the archivist at the University of Michigan

“At the present time we have roughly 600 shows online here: http://mtia.sites.uofmhosting.net/

Click on the “Listen” link to get to the streaming platform. The shows we have up now are those for which we also have printed scripts, so you can read the script and listen to the show. The dates of the shows are 1968 to 1998. There are five hosts represented in this group. Sometime in January 2021, we are planning to upload 109 more shows. These are the ones that are missing scripts so all that is there is the full show. Then, in February, we are planning to add about 400 more shows from the period between 2007 and 2017. These are programs where Matthew Lavoie or Heather Maxwell are hosts. The website contains some background information on the project.”

Here is more information about the archive project;

Wow! What a treasure trove of one of my favorite VOA programs! Thank you for sharing, Zack!

Click here to check out archived episodes of VOA’s Music Time in Africa.

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VOA’s “Music Man,” Leo Sarkisian, retires at 91

From right to left: Leo Sarkisian, Heather Maxwell, and Mary Sarkisian. (Photo: VOA)

Many shortwave radio listeners know the name Leo Sarkisian, founder of the Voice of America show Music Time in Africa. For decades, Leo and his wife, Mary, traveled to every corner of Africa, lugging with them a large reel-to-reel recorder that Leo used to capture for broadcast the diverse music found across the continent. A monumental cultural record is the result. Earlier this year, at 91 years old, Sarkisian retired from VOA; he leaves his show and his wonderful library of recordings in the capable hands of radio host Heather Maxwell.

Today, Richard Harris offered an excellent radio piece he produced on Leo Sarkisian for PRI’s The World–you can listen to it below or on PRI’s site:

In addition, both the VOA and The Washington Post featured Leo and Mary earlier this year; both of these articles are delightful.The Washington Post article even describes Sarkisian’s work as “diplomacy.” I particularly love the following description:

Long before there was ping-pong diplomacy or pere­stroika, a short, balding Armenian American was lugging an enormous reel-to-reel from village to village, sweet-talking people into singing and playing for him.

[…]In Africa, he socialized with presidents, military dictators, accomplished musicians and tribal villagers. He outwardly steered away from politics, but under the surface he wove a subtle diplomatic tapestry based around grooving on tunes.

That’s one thing I love about shortwave radio–in all forms, in all countries, it offers a medium of accessible, lasting diplomacy–however “subtle” it may seem–for at least as long as the shortwaves continue to grace our airwaves.  Of course, music is inextricably integrated into this diplomatic medium.  Thank you, Leo and Mary, for a reminder of that, in the form of a truly extraordinary life’s work. 

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