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Voice of America History

 

Voice of America is celebrating its 70th anniversary amid devastating programming cuts being imposed by the Broadcadting Board of Governors. One of the programs scheduled for elimination are VOA radio broadcadts to Tibet. The BBG also wants to close down the VOA Cantonese Service.

The VOA HISTORY was written in the early 2000s by the VOA external affairs office.

VOA HISTORY

In 1939, the American playwright Robert Sherwood, who would become a speechwriter for President Franklin Roosevelt and later, the “father of the Voice of America,” predicted the impact of international broadcasting when he said:

“We are living in an age when communication has achieved fabulous importance. There is a new decisive force in the human race, more powerful than all the tyrants. It is the force of massed thought-thought which has been provoked by words, strongly spoken.”

In that year, the United States was the only world power without a government-sponsored international radio service. The Netherlands had been the first country to direct regularly-scheduled broadcasts beyond its own borders, inaugurating shortwave programming to the Far East in 1927. Seeing radio as an instrument of foreign policy, the Soviet Union built a radio center in Moscow and was broadcasting in 50 languages and dialects by the end of 1930. Italy and Great Britain started their respective “empire services” in 1932, followed by France the next year. Nazi Germany built a massive network of transmitters in 1933 and began to beam hostile propaganda into Austria. The same year Berlin started shortwave broadcasts to Latin America. Meanwhile, Japan was using radio to promote its national ambitions in the Far East.

Despite the efforts of many prominent figures, including New York Congressman Emmanuel Celler (who introduced bills in 1937, 1938, and 1939 to create a government station that could respond to German propaganda), the United States entered the 1940s with no plans to establish an official U.S. presence on the international airwaves. The United States’ shortwave resources consisted of just over a dozen low-powered, commercially owned and operated transmitters.

In 1941, several of these private transmitters were leased by the U.S. Coordinator for Inter-American Affairs (CIAA) to broadcast to Latin America. In mid-1941, President Roosevelt established the U.S. Foreign Information Service (FIS) and named speechwriter Sherwood as its first director. Driven by his belief in the power of ideas and the need to communicate America’s views abroad. Sherwood rented space for his headquarters in New York City, recruited a staff of journalists, and began producing material for broadcast to Europe by the privately-owned American shortwave stations. Sherwood also talked with officials in London about the prospect for relaying FIS material over the facilities of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

With Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and Germany’s declaration of war against the United States, Sherwood moved into high gear. He asked John Houseman, the theatrical producer, author, and director, to take charge of FIS radio operations in New York City.

In December 1941, FIS made its first direct broadcasts to Asia from a studio in San Francisco. On February 24, 1942–just 79 days after the United States entered World War II–FIS beamed its first broadcast to Europe via BBC medium- and long-wave transmitters. Announcer William Harlan Hale opened the German-language program with the words: “Here speaks a voice from America.” The name took hold, and within a few months, it became the signature introduction on all Foreign Information Service broadcasts. From that moment, America had found its “voice” abroad. 
 

LET THE TRUTH BE TOLD

From the beginning, VOA promised to tell its listeners the truth, regardless of whether the news was good or bad. As John Houseman said later, “In reality, we had little choice. Inevitably the news that the Voice of America would carry to the world in the first half of 1942 was almost all bad. As Japanese invasions followed one another with sickening regularity and the Nazi armies moved ever deeper into Russia and the Near East, we would have to report our reverses without weaseling. Only thus could we establish a reputation for honesty which we hoped would pay off on that distant but inevitable day when we would start reporting our own invasions and victories.”

By June 1942, VOA was growing rapidly and had a new organizational home–the Office of War Information (OWI). Twenty-three transmitters had been constructed and 27 language services were on the air when the Allied summit took place in Casablanca. 
 

THE POST-WAR BLUES

As the war drew to a close, however, many of VOA’s broadcast services were reduced or eliminated. Then in late 1945, a State Department-appointed committee of private citizens chaired by Columbia University professor Arthur McMahon advised that the U.S. Government could not be “indifferent to the ways in which our society is portrayed to other countries.” Consequently, on December 31, 1945, the VOA’s and CIAA’s broadcast services to Latin America were transferred to the Department of State, and Congress reluctantly appropriated funds for their continued operation in 1946 and 1947.

The reluctant support for international broadcasting disappeared in 1948. That year, members of Congress were heavily influenced by the escalation of the Cold War and hostile international broadcasting by the Soviet Union and Soviet-controlled countries. The Berlin Blockade in 1948 confirmed the need for an American radio voice to the world. The enactment of the Smith-Mundt Act that year permanently established America’s international informational and cultural exchange programs, a function VOA had already been carrying out for the past six years on its own. 
 

A VOICE OF FREEDOM OR FEAR

For the next two years, officials in the U.S. Government debated the proper role of America’s official international broadcasting service. Was it to report the news and reflect America, or was it to be used as an instrument of U.S. foreign policy and as a “weapon” against the Soviet Union? Congress saw it increasingly as fulfilling the latter role. With the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, VOA added new language services and developed plans to construct transmitter complexes on both the east and west coasts of the United States.

In early 1953, Senator Joseph McCarthy chaired several weeks of hearings to investigate programming and engineering practices at VOA and allegations that there were “subversives on the staff guilty of negligence favoring communism.” The inquiry also examined management practices and plans to build new VOA transmitters. While the charges of subversive activity were never proven, widespread dismissals and resignations followed. In the wake of the congressional hearings, VOA’s budget was reduced, the transmitter construction program was halted and a number of language services were terminated. 
 

A NEW BEGINNING

Even before the McCarthy hearings ended, however, a commission appointed by President Eisenhower had begun a review of U.S. foreign information activities, including the Voice of America. The commission, chaired by former President Herbert Hoover, concluded that these programs should be separated from the Department of State. On August 1, 1953, the United States Information Agency was established, and VOA became its single largest element. A year later, VOA moved its headquarters from New York City to its present site on Independence Avenue, S.W., not far from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.

The crises in Hungary and Suez, the beginnings of American-Soviet summitry and the dawning of the space age in the late 1950s and the early 1960s offered new opportunities for VOA to provide reliable and comprehensive reporting of world events. New and creative programming reflecting America was introduced. In 1959, VOA inaugurated Special English-slow-paced, simplified English broadcasts-to facilitate comprehension for millions of listeners. 
 

THE STAMP OF APPROVAL

In 1960, USIA Director George Allen endorsed the VOA Charter that had been drafted by VOA staff members between 1958 and 1959 to put in writing a formal statement of principles that would govern VOA broadcasts. It reads:

The long-range interests of the United States are served by communicating directly with the peoples of the world by radio. To be effective, the Voice of America must win the attention and respect of listeners. These principles will therefore govern Voice of America (VOA) broadcasts.

(1) VOA will serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news. VOA news will be accurate, objective and comprehensive.

(2) VOA will represent America, not any single segment of American society, and will therefore present a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions.

(3) VOA will present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively, and will also present responsible discussions and opinion on these policies.

In July 1976, Representative Bela Abzug and Senator Charles Percy sponsored legislation making the VOA Charter Public Law 94-350. President Gerald Ford signed the legislation on July 12, 1976. 
 

ACCEPTING THE CHALLENGE

A complete roster of the men and women who formed and nourished the Voice of America in its infancy, John Houseman recalled, “would reveal a collection of U.S.-born and foreign luminaries in their various fields-journalists, publishers, executives, actors, directors, economists, philosophers, poets, artists, musicians, educators, and financiers–of such celebrity in their past and future lives that it is almost impossible to believe they were all ever assembled under one ‘roof.’”

Twenty-five years later, former Director John Chancellor wrote, “There’s a peculiar sort of ramshackle excellence about the Voice of America. I came to work there with the standard conceptions and misconceptions of an outsider. I did think of it as a calm and dignified group of broadcasters. To my surprise, I found that I had misjudged the spirit-indeed, the clamor-that exists inside the Voice. It was like walking into a stately building to find the residents holding up the walls with broomsticks while carrying on a terrific argument. There is a fine, antic sense of madness about the place and after a year and a half of taking my turn at the broomstick, I view the Voice and its employees with a feeling of pride and affection.” He continued, “They are, to a remarkable degree, people of spirit and intelligence, whose passion is to represent the United States in the best possible manner.” 
 

GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS

In the 1960s and 1970s, VOA took giant steps toward becoming the world’s leading international broadcaster. During the tenure of Director Henry Loomis from 1958 to 1965, the VOA Charter was written, and technical facilities and programming for every part of the world were expanded.

When NBC newsman John Chancellor took up the reins in 1965, he promised that VOA broadcasts “would swing a little.” VOA began to produce livelier and more creative programs in both English and its language broadcasts. News-gathering resources were increased, making possible more live, on-the-scene reporting. In 1969, when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, nearly 800 million people were tuned to the Voice or to the hundreds of stations around the world that were relaying VOA’s live coverage. In 1977, VOA became the first international broadcaster to use a full-time satellite circuit to deliver programming from its own studios to an overseas relay station-in this case, the VOA Arabic programs from Washington to the Voice transmitters on the Greek island of Rhodes.

During Kenneth Giddens’ tenure as director from 1969 to 1977, the longest of any VOA director, VOA dramatically enhanced its credibility through its straightforward reporting of two events that traumatized the nation–the war in Vietnam and the constitutional crises posed by Watergate. VOA’s reporting not only drew praise from the American press, but also from listeners in every part of the world, as tens of thousands wrote to express their admiration for VOA’s comprehensive and objective coverage.

The cessation of Soviet and Soviet-bloc jamming, which took place throughout the Cold War; an expanding audience in China; and the introduction of new and expanded programming for listeners in Iran, Afghanistan, and Poland were opening up vast new audiences for VOA. As Giddens had predicted, however, VOA’s potential to reach an ever-increasing number of the world’s citizens was being handicapped by insufficient resources. As the 1970s came to an end, the gap between VOA’s extensive programming requirements and the level of funding had led to serious deficiencies in both personnel and facilities. Almost every language service was short-staffed. It was not unusual to find translator-announcers working two and three weeks without a day off. VOA’s antiquated studios and master control complex were breaking down with increasing frequency despite the best efforts of a dedicated technical staff skilled in fabricating spare parts no longer manufactured.

Listeners in many parts of the world were complaining that VOA signals sounded weak and distorted. By the early 1980s, many VOA transmitters were more than thirty years old and some were over forty. Few were capable of producing the 500,000-watt signals being generated by VOA’s leading competitors. And the competition itself was increasing. In the mid-1980s, some 160 stations were crowding the international spectrum with upwards of 25,000 hours of programming a week. 
 

NO BETTER TIME THAN THE PRESENT

In 1983, VOA launched a $1.3 billion program to rebuild and modernize VOA programming and technical capabilities. However, due to government-wide budget constraints at the time, VOA was forced to reduce the funds devoted to this project. Despite less funding, major new and upgraded radio transmission facilities were completed in Botswana, Morocco, Thailand, Kuwait, and Sao Tome over the next several years. In Washington, nineteen “state-of-the-art” studios were constructed, a new Master Control complex was installed and a Network Control Center was built to coordinate and direct VOA’s domestic and overseas relay transmitter stations.

In 1985, Congress established a special service to Cuba known as Radio Marti, which broadcast news of that country. Although Radio Marti followed VOA editorial guidelines, it operated separately from the Voice and had its own Washington studios. A television service, TV Marti, went on the air in 1990, and in 1996, Radio and TV Marti began to transfer their operations to Miami. The move was completed in 1998.

VOA Mandarin and Cantonese broadcasts were increased in 1989 to bring tens, and perhaps hundreds, of millions of Chinese listeners accurate reports of the pro-democracy movement that filled Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and the streets of dozens of Chinese cities. In the fall and winter, VOA reported the historic changes that were sweeping Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union-changes that some have ascribed, at least in part to the Voice and other western international broadcasters. And with the arrival of the 1990s, VOA Russian covered the attempted August 1991 coup against then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of the same year.

Following the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (C.I.S.) and the collapse of communist governments throughout Eastern Europe, VOA continued a daily flow of news and information to the region. All of these newly formed governments have been trying, with varying degrees of success, to embrace democracy and its underlying principles. East European leaders such as the Czech Republic’s Vaclav Havel asked the West to help them understand how to establish the infrastructure of democratic institutions. VOA responded with programming designed to explain how democracy works in the West and how market economies function.

While there was a great need to maintain VOA broadcasts to the C.I.S. and Eastern Europe, the Voice of America continued to provide news and information to people in other parts of the world. On March 25, 1991, VOA launched a 15-minute Tibetan program, which the Chinese government promptly started to jam. Kurdish-language broadcasts to listeners in Iraq and Iran went on the air on April 25, 1992. Somali broadcasts started on December 27, 1992, but were discontinued shortly after the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from that country.

In response to the breakup of the former Yugoslavia into several republics in 1991, VOA divided its Yugoslav Service into two separate language services–Croatian and Serbian–on February 21, 1993. Both services expanded their broadcast hours to the region and, along with VOA’s Slovene Service, maintained a constant flow of news and information to listeners in the Balkans. A Bosnian Service was added in 1996 and a Macedonian Service in 1999.

VOA also established a network of Croatian and Serbian local radio stations to carry VOA-produced programming. On October 1, 1996, Radio 101 FM began to carry VOA Croatian, making it the first station in Zagreb to include programming from an international broadcaster in its schedule. That same year, VOA Serbian increased its daily broadcasts to two and a half hours when it added a 30-minute, medium wave broadcast.

A live 15-minute VOA Bosnian “feed” service, which was transmitted to local radio stations via satellite, was established on April 22, 1996. VOA later increased the Bosnian-language program to 30 minutes and launched the direct broadcasts in Bosnian late the same year.

When the Milosevic government in Belgrade banned broadcasts of Radio B-92 and other independent local radio stations on December 3, 1996, VOA included reports on its newscasts from stringers in Belgrade, many of whom also worked for Radio B-92. Realizing that it could not stifle the flow of information, the Milosevic government allowed Radio B-92 to resume broadcasts two days later on December 5. On the same day that B-92 resumed its broadcasts, VOA began pilot simulcasts on radio and TV of its 11:30 p.m. (Serbian local time) newscast. The program is relayed by Serbian independent TV stations with a potential viewership of four million.

On July 15, 1996, the Voice of America added broadcasts in Tigrigna and Oromiffa–its 49th and 50th languages–for listeners in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Tigrigna is one of the working languages of the independent nation of Eritrea, and Oromiffa is spoken by the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia. The two languages joined VOA Amharic, which has been on the air since 1982.

On the same day, VOA introduced Kirundi- and Kinyarwanda-language programming for listeners in conflict-ridden Central Africa. VOA, which was already broadcasting in English, French, and Swahili to the region, increased its audience. With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the two services–VOA’s 51st and 52nd languages–went on the air on July 15, 1996 with a 30-minute weekday program. The following November they expanded the show to seven days a week and one month later increased their Saturday and Sunday programs to one hour.

VOA also established refugee hotlines in both the Balkans and Central Africa in 1996. VOA Serbian and Croatian launched their hotline on August 14, and Kirundi and Kinyarwanda on November 30. VOA language broadcasts to both regions offered listeners a means through which they could be reunited with friends and family separated by war and personal hardship.

When citizens in Tirana and other Albanian cities protested the proliferation of illegal financial schemes in February 1997, VOA Albanian broadcasts were a prime source of news for the people of that country. By March 1997, the crisis had deteriorated into civil conflict, and the Albanian government cut off VOA Albanian program feeds to local affiliate stations in Tirana, Elbasan, Gjirokaster, Shkoder, and Kukes for a short time. VOA expanded its broadcast hours both on shortwave and medium wave at the height of the crisis to provide the maximum news possible to the people of Albania.

In 1997, an agreement signed between the International Broadcasting Bureau and Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company (AsiaSat) gave the Voice of America and other U.S. Government civilian international broadcasters access to AsiaSat 2, a satellite with a footprint reaching more than sixty percent of the world’s population. Now, by satellite, VOA, WORLDNET Television and Film Service, Radio Free Asia, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty provide 24-hour, seven-day-a-week service to listeners and viewers in more than 53 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Australia, and much of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Affiliated stations and listeners and viewers using small satellite dishes are able to receive stereo radio and television programming. 
 

THE CHANGING FACE OF INTERNATIONAL BROADCASTING IN THE 1990S

Starting in 1990, all U.S. Government international broadcasting services began to work more closely together. That year the U.S. Information Agency, then VOA’s parent Agency, established the Bureau of Broadcasting to consolidate its three broadcasting services–the Voice of America, WORLDNET Television and Film Service, and Radio and TV Marti–into one cohesive and efficient element, supported by a single Office of Engineering and Technical Operations.

In 1991, the Bureau created the Office of Affiliate Relations and Audience Analysis (later renamed the Office of Affiliate Relations and Media Training in 1996) to establish and maintain a network of “affiliated” radio and TV stations around the globe that would broadcast VOA- and WORLDNET-produced programs. Today, more than 1,200 radio and TV stations receive programming through the Office of Affiliate Relations.

The Office of Business Development was established in 1994 to work with the private sector on a wide range of ventures, including the possible privatization of VOA language services, procurment of corporate underwriting for broadcasts, co-productions with major broadcast networks and fundraising from various foundations. (These initiatives benefit not only VOA, but also WORLDNET Television and Film Service and Radio and TV Marti.) From 1994 through 1996, the office raised $4 million.

U.S. Government international broadcasting was consolidated even further when President Clinton signed the International Broadcasting Act (Public Law 103-236) on April 30, 1994. The legislation established the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) within the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) and created a Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) with oversight authority over all non-military U.S. government international broadcasting. The Voice of America, WORLDNET Television and Film Service and Radio and TV Marti–the three federally-funded services of the former Bureau of Broadcasting–along with the Office of Engineering and Technical Services, comprise the IBB. The bipartisan BBG includes the USIA Director (ex officio) and eight members appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The first Broadcasting Board of Governors was sworn in on August 11, 1995.

The BBG oversees VOA, the WORLDNET Television Service, Radio and TV Marti, and the Office of Engineering and Technical Services along with two grantee international broadcast services–Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and Radio Free Asia (RFA). (RFA was established under the 1994 legislation.) RFE/RL and RFA are private, non-profit corporations that receive annual congressionally appropriated grants from the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

The International Broadcasting Act also centralized the Office of Engineering and Technical Services within IBB, making it responsible for planning and maintaining broadcast facilities for VOA, WORLDNET, and Radio and TV Marti as well as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia. Transmitter sites that had formerly broadcast RFE/RL programs to the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were integrated into a single network operated by the IBB Engineering.

In 1998, Congress passed and President Clinton signed the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act (Public Law 105-277), mandating the the Broadcasting Board of Governors become an independent federal entity on October 1, 1999 and giving it supervisory authority over the International Broadcasting Bureau, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Radio Free Asia. The legislation also abolished the U.S. Information Agency, whose functions were merged into the U.S. State Department.

INNOVATIONS FOR A NEW CENTURY

Although historically an international radio broadcaster, VOA began to simulcast programs on radio and TV in the mid-1990s. The first, China Forum TV, aired on September 18, 1994. This one-hour Mandarin telecast was beamed into the Peoples’ Republic of China by satellite. Two years later, VOA’s Arabic Branch teamed up with WORLDNET Television Service and the Middle East Broadcasting Centre (MBC) in London to launch Dialogue With the West. The success of these two programs encouraged VOA, with the assistance of WORLDENT Television, to build the new TV Studio 47 at its headquarters. The first program telecast from Studio 47 on October 18, 1996 was a Farsi simulcast. Today, VOA simulcasts programming in Albanian, Bosnian, Chinese (Mandarin), English, Farsi, Serbian and Spanish.

In 1994, the Voice of America became the first international broadcaster to offer its material through the Internet. Initially, the site offered information through two simple text-based formats, and in 1996, VOA added a Web Page. Today, the VOA Web site offers the VOA newswire, program schedules (times, frequencies, and satellite circuits), VOA Chinese-language program scripts, and background information about VOA language services and other civilian U.S. Government broadcast services. The site also contains audio files for all 53 VOA language services. 
 

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

VOA will continue to examine new technologies and refine its programming to reflect the needs of its listeners. One goal remains, however, for the hundreds of professionals who make up the Voice of America-to deliver comprehensive, timely truthful information. The VOA will continue to broadcast the sounds of freedom and serve as a beacon of hope for its millions of listeners around the world. 
 

VOICE OF AMERICA DIRECTORS

The Voice of America’s first organizational home was the U.S. Foreign Information Service, which later became the overseas branch of the Office of War Information. FIS’ first director was Robert E. Sherwood; Joseph Barnes was his deputy and chief of the New York Office. 
  
  

JOHN HOUSEMAN 
February 1942 – July 1943

LOUIS G. COWAN 
August 1943 – August 1945

JOHN OGILVIE 
September 1945 – January 1946

CHARLES THAYER 
January 1948 – October 1949

FOY DAVID KOHLER 
October 1949 – September 1952

ALFRED MORTON 
October 1952 – April 1953

LEONARD ERIKSON 
July 1953 – April 1954

JOHN R. POPPELE 
May 1954 – July 1956

ROBERT E. BUTTON 
July 1956 – July 1958

HENRY LOOMIS 
July 1958 – March 1965

JOHN CHANCELLOR 
August 1965 – June 1967

JOHN CHARLES DALY 
September 1967 – June 1968

KENNETH R. GIDDENS 
September 1969 – April 1977

R. PETER STRAUS 
July 1977 – October 1979

MARY BITTERMAN 
March 1980 – January 1981

JAMES CONKLING 
August 1981 – March 1982

JOHN HUGHES 
March 1982 – August 1982

KENNETH TOMLINSON 
December 1982 – September 1984

GENE PELL 
June 1985 – October 1985

RICHARD W. CARLSON 
November 1986 – September 1991

CHARLES UNTERMEYER 
September 1991 – January 1993

GEOFFREY COWAN 
March 1994 – November 1996

EVELYN S. LIEBERMAN 
March 1997 – May 1999

SANFORD J. UNGAR 
June 1999 – July 2001

ROBERT R. REILLY 
October 2001 –

This official VOA History was written in the early 2000s.

VOICE OF AMERICA LANGUAGE SERVICES

Today, VOA broadcasts in 53 languages to listeners in every world region. Other language programs are produced for transmission via satellite to foreign stations. Languages that predate February 1942 began under the Coordinator for Inter-American Affairs and the Foreign Information Service.

* indicates a language currently on VOA’s broadcast schedule.

** indicates a VOA feed service, which provides VOA-produced programming to local radio stations

Afan Oromo* 1996 to present 
Afrikaans 1942 to 1949 
Albanian* 1943 to 1945; 1951 to present 
Amharic* 1982 to present 
Amoy 1941 to 1945; 1951 to 1963 
Annamese See Vietnamese 
Arabic* 1942 to 1945; 1950 to present 
Armenian* 1951 to present 
Azerbaijani* 1951 to 1953; 1982 to present 
Bangla* 1958 to present 
Bosnian* 1996 to present 
Bulgarian* 1942 to present 
Burmese* 1943 to 1945; 1951 to present 
Byelorussian 1956 to 1957 
Cambodian See Khmer 
Cantonese* 1941 to 1945; 1949 to 1963; 1987 to present 
Chinese See Mandarin and Cantonese 
Creole* 1987 to present 
Croatian* 1943 to present 
Czech* 1942 to present 
Danish 1942 to 1945 
Dari* 1980 to present 
Dutch 1944 to 1945 
English* 1942 to present 
Estonian* 1951 to present 
Farsi* 1942 to 1945; 1949 to 1960; 1964 to 1966 (radio feed service); 1979 to present 
Finnish 1942 to 1945; 1951 to 1953 
Flemish 1942 to 1945 
French* (to Africa) 1960 to present 
French (to France) 1942 to 1961 
Georgian* 1951 to present 
German 1942 to 1960; 1991 to 1993 
Greek* 1942 to present 
Gujarati 1956 to 1958 
Hakka 1951 to 1954 
Hausa* 1979 to present 
Hebrew 1951 to 1953 
Hindi* 1951 to 1953; 1954 to present 
Hungarian* 1942 to present 
Icelandic 1944 
Indonesian* 1942 to present 
Italian 1942 to 1945; 1951 to 1957 
Japanese 1942 to 1945;1951 to 1962 
Javanese See Indonesian 
Khmer* 1955 to 1957; 1962 to present 
Kirundi* 1996 to present 
Kinyarwanda* 1996 to present 
Korean* 1942 to present 
Kurdish * 1992 to present 
Lao* 1962 to present 
Latvian* 1951 to present 
Lithuanian* 1951 to present 
Malayan 1951 to 1955 
Malayalam 1956 to 1961 
Mandarin* 1941 to present 
Macedonian* 1999 to present 
Nepali 1992 to 1993 
Norwegian 1942 to 1945 
Pashto* 1982 to present 
Persian See Farsi 
Polish* 1942 to present 
Portuguese* (to Africa) 1976 to present 
Portuguese* (to Latin America) 1941 to 1945; 1946 to 1948 (contracted private radio stations to produce and transmit programs to Latin 
America); 1961 to 2001 
Portuguese (to Portugal) 1942 to 1945; 1951 to 1953; 1976 to 1987; 1987 to 1993 (VOA-produced programs for placement on local radio stations) 
Romanian* 1942 to present 
Russian* 1947 to present 
Serbian* 1943 to present 
Shanghai (Wu) 1944 to 1946 
Slovak* 1942 to present 
Slovene* 1944 to end of World War II; 1949 to present 
Somali 1992 to 1995 
Spanish* (to Latin America) 1941 to 1945; 1946 to i 948; and 1953 to 1956 (VOA contracted private radio stations to produce and transmit programs for Latin America); 1961 to present Spanish* (Radio Marti) 1985 to present 
Spanish (to Spain) 1942 to 1955; 1955 to 1993 (VOA provided placement programming for local Spanish radio stations) 
Swahili* 1962 to present 
Swatow 1951 to 1953 
Swedish 1943 to 1945 
Tagalog 1941 to 1946 
Tamil 1954 to 1970 
Tatar 1951 to 1953 
Telegu 1956 to 1958 
Thai** 1942 to 1958; 1962 to 1988; 1988 to present 
Tibetan* During 1950s on VOA Mandarin broadcasts; 1991 to present 
Tigrigna* 1996 to present 
Turkish* 1942 to 1945; 1948 to present 
Ukrainian* 1949 to present 
Urdu* 1951 to 1953; 1954 to present 
Uzbek* 1958; 1972 to present 
Vietnamese* 1943 to 1946; 1951 to present 
Wu See Shanghai

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Washburn, Philo C. “Voice of America and Radio Moscow Newscasts to the Third World.” Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 32, no. 2 (Spring 1988): 197-218.

Wada, Hadiza I. M. “Voice of America: an Inside Look at Its Africa Division.” M.A. Thesis, University of Kansas, 1989. 
  
  
 

The Voice of America–along with WORLDNET Television and Film Service, Radio and TV Marti, and the Office of Engineering and Technical Services–comprises the International Broadcasting Bureau, under the authority of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The Broadcasting Board of Governors is a nine-member board, eight of whom are presidentially appointed, that oversees the International Broadcasting Bureau and two non-profit grantee corporations-Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia. 
  
  

Produced by the 
Voice of America 
Office of External 
Affairs 
Writer/Editor 
George Mackenzie 
Art Director 
Carmelo Ciancio 
Designer 
Pat Hutteman

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