Tag Archives: VOA

VOA’s Music Man For Africa, Leo Sarkisian, dies at 97

FILE – Leo Sarkisian, center, his wife, Mary, and VOA Director David Ensor smile during a celebration that followed the renaming of VOA Studio 23 in Sarkisian’s honor, Jan. 29, 2014. (Source: VOA News)

In February 2013, Leo Sarkisian and his sweet wife, Mary, invited me to their home and studio in Maryland and I recorded what turned into a 3+ hour audio interview.

Sitting with him, time seemed to disappear as I was absorbed by stories about his travels and experiences. He was so kind and gracious–he even insisted that I walk away with one of his amazing drawings which I’ve since framed for my office.

Leo passed away on June 8, 2018 at the age of 97. Rest in peace, Leo.

Here’s the story from VOA News:

(Source: VOA News)

Leo Sarkisian, the creator and longtime producer of The Voice of America’s “Music Time in Africa,” has died. He was 97.

Known by his fans as the “Music Man of Africa,” Sarkisian spent a half-century traveling Africa, listening to local musicians and capturing their performances. Those recordings became the basis of VOA’s longest-running English program.

“Leo always left you feeling like you were special. He didn’t treat anyone less or greater based on their social standing or age or anything, it seemed. He was a true gentleman and optimist and lover of the beautiful things in life,” said Heather Maxwell, an ethnomusicologist who succeeded Sarkisian as the host of “Music Time in Africa.”

Meeting Murrow

Sarkisian arrived in Africa as a soldier in the U.S. Army. In 1961, a fateful encounter changed the course of his life. Edward R. Murrow, newly minted as the director of the U.S. Information Agency, came to Sarkisian’s apartment in Conakry, Guinea, and asked if he’d like to join The Voice of America. Four years later, he went on the air with “Music Time in Africa.”

He spent the next 47 years traveling the continent with his wife, Mary, whom he married in 1949. Together, they met thousands of local musicians and gave their art a global stage.

Sarkisian’s travels put him at the vanguard of African music. Maxwell said a favorite recording from Sarkisian’s collection was of Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, before he developed the Afrobeat style that would become his world-famous trademark.

Sarkisian was himself a musician and artist. He sketched performers, audience members and dignitaries. Some of his illustrations can be found in “Leo Sarkisian’s Faces of Africa,” a collection of portraits of people he met in his travels.

But his greatest legacy will perhaps be the original collection of about 10,000 recordings that he curated, representing every African country. In 2014, the University of Michigan acquired the collection from VOA on long-term loan. Their work involves digitizing the collection and preserving it for generations to come.

‘I feel as if I’m just beginning’

Sarkisian retired in 2012, when he was 91.

“I feel as if I’m just beginning,” he told VOA’s Vincent Makori in an interview that year.

When asked what African music meant to him, Sarkisian said, “It’s been my entire life. It’s from my childhood right up to today, and maybe into the future. I’ll still be doing my art, and I’ll be dancing with my music. What else? It is passion.”

Sarkisian’s parents emigrated to the U.S. from Turkey in the early 1900s, according to The Washington Post. Born in 1921, Sarkisian studied art and drew maps for the Army, the Post reported.

Sarkisian lived by Murrow’s “last three feet” motto, Maxwell said. That meant the most important part of communication, even across international borders, came from a personal, human connection.

“We still care about Africa,” Sarkisian said in 2012. “We care about them. We love the African culture. And in turn, of course, we have their love, also. And that is the satisfaction of our work.”

Leo and Mary Sarkisian, after spending most of their lives living in Africa, settled in Boston. Leo Sarkisian died June 8 and will be buried in North Andover, Massachusetts, with full military honors.

Click here to read this story at VOA News.

Michael Pack nominated as CEO of the Broadcasting Board of Governors

Many thanks to @experimradio who notes that Michael Pack has been nominated as CEO of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and shares the following information links.

Michael Pack’s nomination announcement via WhiteHouse.gov:

NOMINATIONS SENT TO THE SENATE:

Veronica Daigle, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of Defense, vice Frederick Vollrath, resigned.

Peter A. Feldman, of the District of Columbia, to be a Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission for the remainder of the term expiring October 26, 2019, vice Joseph P. Mohorovic.

Karen Dunn Kelley, of Pennsylvania, to be Deputy Secretary of Commerce, vice Bruce H. Andrews, resigned

Brian A. Nichols, of Rhode Island, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Zimbabwe.

Michael Pack, of Maryland, to be Chief Executive Officer of the Broadcasting Board of Governors for the term of three years. (New Position)

Elad L. Roisman, of Maine, to be a Member of the Securities and Exchange Commission for a term expiring June 5, 2023, vice Michael Sean Piwowar, resigned.

Geoffrey Adam Starks, of Kansas, to be a Member of the Federal Communications Commission for a term of five years from July 1, 2017, vice Mignon L. Clyburn, term expired.

Casey Wardynski, of Alabama, to be an Assistant Secretary of the Army, vice Debra S. Wada.

Michael Pack’s biography via The Claremont Institute:

Michael Pack,
Manifold Productions (Photo: The Claremont Institute)

Michael Pack is a Senior Fellow of the Claremont Institute, formerly serving as president from 2015 to 2017. Pack founded Manifold Productions, an independent film and television production company, in 1977.

Mr. Pack has written, directed, and produced numerous award-winning, nationally broadcast documentaries, principally for PBS, as well as corporate and educational films. His major credits include: Rickover: The Birth of Nuclear Power, narrated by Joan Allen (2014); Rediscovering Alexander Hamilton hosted by Richard Brookhiser (2011); God and the Inner City, narrated by Phylicia Rashad (2003); Rediscovering George Washington, hosted by Richard Brookhiser (2002); The Fall of Newt Gingrich, narrated by Blair Brown (2000);The Rodney King Incident: Race and Justice in America, narrated by Robert Prosky (1998); Inside the Republican Revolution: The First Hundred Days, hosted by Don Lambro (1995); Hollywood vs. Religion, hosted by Michael Medved (1995); Campus Culture Wars: Five Stories about Political Correctness, narrated by Lindsay Crouse (1993); and Hollywood’s Favorite Heavy: Businessmen on Prime Time TV, hosted by Eli Wallach (1987).

From 2003-2006, Mr. Pack served as senior vice president for television programming at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, where he restructured the programming department and launched several new initiatives. These included: America at a Crossroads (a series of 20 documentary films addressing issues facing America in the wake of the attacks of 9/11) and the American History and Civics Initiative (innovative, new media designed to address the crisis of historical amnesia in middle and high school students).

In 2002, President Bush nominated and the Senate confirmed Mr. Pack to serve on the National Council on the Humanities, which oversees the National Endowment for the Humanities. He served from July 2002 to February 2005.

In 1993, Mr. Pack served as co-chair of the International TV Council at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In this capacity, he oversaw the Council’s efforts to determine the feasibility of launching a cooperative program between American public television producers and stations and their counterparts in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Previously, Mr. Pack received a political appointment as director of WORLDNET, the U.S. Information Agency’s global satellite network. WORLDNET produced, acquired, and distributed programs to over 127 countries and over 200 cities on all continents twenty-four hours a day. WORLDNET, now called VOA-TV, has merged with the Voice of America.

Mr. Pack attended Yale College, the University of California at Berkeley, and studied film at New York University.

Clyde Haehnle: Loss of a broadcasting icon

(Source: The VOA Museum via David Snyde)

Museum Icon Passes Away

The National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting mourns the loss of one of its major leaders and benefactors. Clyde Haehnle passed away peacefully on Sunday, April 8th.   Over the years, this icon in the development of broadcasting technology, not only locally but nationally, was the driving force behind the museum.

A veteran broadcasting engineer and executive, Mr. Haehnle was instrumental in the early meteoric development of Powel Crosley’s WLW. While working at WLW, fresh out of electrical engineering school at the University of Cincinnati, he was assigned in 1942 to work on design and construction of VOA-Bethany Station, the transmission facility of the newly- minted Voice of America. The facility operated from 1944 thru 1994 and beamed programs worldwide from the highest power shortwave transmitters built in the world at that time.

The rhombic antenna design requiring extensive mathematical calculations fell to Mr. Haehnle. His work accomplished with pencil, paper and a slide rule resulted in some of the most efficient antenna arrays ever built and enabled the VOA programs transmitted from the hilltop north of Cincinnati to be heard by eager listeners worldwide. P of Engineering at AVCO Broadcasting. He held many patents in electronic technology and continued to be a curious and thoughtful proponent of technology well into his ninth decade.

Mr. Haehnle’s untiring leadership and support has enabled the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting to develop into a rich educational institution celebrating the role broadcasting has made in the dissemination of programs globally encouraging democratic principles to truth-starved audiences.

The Museum plans a celebration of Mr. Haehnle’s extraordinary life later this spring.

Read more about Clyde.

Cincinnati Society of Professional Journalists meeting at National VOA Museum of Broadcasting

(Source: Southgate ARC via Kris Partridge)

‘Who can I trust to give me the real news?’

Where and how should American citizens access trustworthy news, how do journalists determine real from fake news, and how can the average citizen identify fake news and avoid accidentally promoting it through social media?

These questions and more are of great importance to citizens across greater Cincinnati and the nation.

They’ll be addressed by the Cincinnati Society of Professional Journalists and other area media on Thursday, April 26 at a panel discussion in conjunction with the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting in West Chester on the topic of “Who can I trust to give me the real news?”
The event is being underwritten by Kehoe Financial Advisors.

Panelist moderator will be Tom McKee of WCPO, with panelists Hagit Limor of the University of Cincinnati journalism program; Jim Bebbington of Cox Media Group; Ann Thompson of WVXU; and Kevin Aldridge of the Enquirer.

Admission will  be the same as last year– $10 for adults and $5 for students. Since this was a standing-room only event last year, we’re encouraging people to order tickets in advance of the event.

Melinda Zemper
Board Member
National VOA Museum of Broadcasting
(513) 706-3737