A little past midnight on February 1, 1942, a then rookie potential staff of the Voice of America was summoned to a New York studio to record VOA’s first-ever broadcast to the world.
It was an incredible moment. A pair of startled Voice announcers wore tuxes, having been summoned from Manhattan operas for their long-awaited but then totally unexpected initial appearance on the world’s airwaves.
At 2 a.m., after once again rehearsing their opening lines, they told their first radio listeners in German:
“The news may be good. The news may be bad. But we shall tell you the truth.”
It was a motto for present and future generations, first transmitted to a BBC studio in London for on-pass to audiences in war-ravaged Europe in prime morning time. In 1942, the Nazis occupied much of that continent and slivers of North Africa.
The initial Voice audience in German was miniscule. But since then, VOA added well more than fifty languages (47 are on the air, today including English). The latest multimedia user count, based by averaging surveys over five years of one-time users in 100 countries, is 313,000,000 each and every week.
This is an increase of 26,000,000 from a year ago — well worthy of recognition nationally once again.
Learn more about the Voice’s 80th anniversary
Look for an up-date summary Feb. 3 by an expert panel: Voice of America: Recognizing 80 years – and Counting — of Independent Journalism. Participants in the roundtable, including VOA Acting Director Yolanda Lopez, will be former VOA Director Sanford Ungar and Professor Nicholas Cull, two globally-known U.S. international communications experts.
The panel is likely to focus on the latest innovations at the Voice, particularly aimed at confronting the fresh challenges of a multimedia age. Ironically, the largest segment of the more than 300,000,000 Voice users today is on-line, with TV viewers second and radio listeners, third.
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More