Archive | February, 2013

Arirang-Korea Foundation Global Media Forum

Bruce Sherman, Director of Strategy & Development at the BBG, speaks at the Arirang-Korea Foundation Global Media Forum.

Bruce Sherman, Director of Strategy & Development at the BBG, speaks at the Arirang-Korea Foundation Global Media Forum. Photo by VOA’s Steve Herman.


“We in U.S. government-funded international media believe strongly not just in our mission but equally in the methods we employ to carry out our mission. Credible, comprehensive, fact-based journalism is our stock in trade. We believe in its robust practice worldwide to ensure unfettered flows of news and information.” — Bruce Sherman, Director, BBG Office of Strategy and Development

Happy Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year celebration at VOA

L-R: Fangfang Zhang (Congressional Reporter), Xiaobei Zhang (Teaching English Show), Wancheng Chao (Tiger Mom Show host). Photo by Xiao Chang

Last week the Chinese Service of the Voice of America hosted a Chinese New Year celebration. The festivities included the opportunity for visitors from inside and outside VOA to get to know individuals working in the service and to see the shows that they produce. The event also featured traditional homemade food, which helped engage guests across all offices and divisions of the Voice of America and the International Broadcasting Bureau through some delicious culinary diplomacy.

“We wanted to make it traditional but also creative,” said Fangfang Zhang, a Congressional Reporter for VOA, “We arranged our classic Chinese dishes throughout the service.  Every dish was named according to a show of the Chinese service or a current issue we are dealing with. Wancheng, who hosts the Tiger Mom show, hosted her food stand to celebrate her show and called her salad Tiger Mom Salad.  It was so much fun!”


Finding the Date of VOA’s First Broadcast

Dr. Walter Roberts explains his investigation into VOA’s anniversary date


“It has always interested me how VOA originally celebrated February 24 as the anniversary date. No one could tell me how that date was selected.”

Dr. Walter Roberts, one of Voice of America’s early staff members (now in his mid-90s and still going strong) can recall the first broadcast in VOA’s history from New York City in 1942.  In an interview, he stated that he remembered the first VOA broadcast occurred earlier than the 24th of February.

After his retirement, Roberts decided to research the actual anniversary.  He started by looking for a recording of the first broadcast, which he recalled was in German, but was dissatisfied with the copy he received.

“After I listened to the recording, it sounded to me not correct so I went further in my research,” recalls Roberts.  The original broadcast, he knew, started with the Battle Hymn of the Republic, but the copy he received did not start that way, but started with the US National Anthem.

His efforts were rewarded when he decided to ask the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which transmitted VOA broadcasts on BBC medium wave transmitters, if they could determine the date of the first VOA broadcast.

“The BBC archives”, Roberts said, “produced a January 1942 memorandum that stated that American broadcasts would start on February 1st in three languages: German, French and Italian. It also listed the time these broadcasts would be received in London from New York and when they would be rebroadcast by the BBC to Germany, France and Italy.”

His research was later confirmed by Chris Kern, a former chief of the VOA Computer Services Division and, later, Director of the Office of Computing Services, who investigated the correct date of the anniversary by researching the National Archives in College Park in Maryland.  Kern actually found the original VOA German scripts which confirmed that the first VOA broadcast was transmitted on February 1st, 1942.  Roberts added that further confirmation came through the assistance of Mike Gray, then the head of the VOA library, who discovered that early VOA recordings were stored in the Library of Congress. He was able to find the actual recording of the Febraury1st VOA German broadcast. It was dated February 1, 1942.

“I was connected with the enterprise.  That I know exactly when and how it all began is very satisfying,” said Roberts.

To this day, he is unaware of how February 24 became known as the anniversary before his research in 2009 set the record straight. Roberts asserts that it is critical to understand how VOA fits within the larger historical developments of the time.  “These broadcasts undoubtedly played a role in the successful pursuit of the war,” he said.

He adds “On the occasion of VOA’s 70th anniversary I said that The Voice of America continues and will continue to be an important part of American public diplomacy whose role in the conduct of American foreign policy has become vital in today’s information age.”

A longer, more detailed account of Walter Robert’s investigation is available in two articles he wrote for the University of North Carolina’s American Diplomacy website.

Walter Roberts was previously interviewed in conjunction with VOA’s 70th anniversary in 2012 and his video can be seen on Inside VOA.

Walter Roberts also attended the 70th anniversary celebration in March of 2012. You can watch a video commemorating last year’s milestone on the VOA Public Relations website

By Roxanne Bauer

Friday Media Roundup

In the last week:

See more mentions, citations, and articles of interest on

Happy birthday, Alhurra!

Alhurra interviews girl

Today, February 14, 2013, marks the 9th anniversary of Alhurra Television!

Alhurra broadcasts objective and accurate Arabic-language news and information to 22 countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa. In addition to reporting on world events, Alhurra provides context and analysis to give viewers a broader understanding of the actions impacting the region. Alhurra also provides the comprehensive coverage from the United States drawing on dedicated correspondents at the White House, State Department, Congress, and Pentagon.

To learn more about some of Alhurra’s great programming, visit

World Radio Day 2013

Internally displaced Afghan children listen to radios distributed by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Kabul. (AP photo/Ahmad Massoud)

Internally displaced Afghan children listen to radios distributed by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Kabul. (AP photo/Ahmad Massoud)

Today is World Radio Day! Here are a few fast facts about our radio operations:

Learn more about our broadcasters’ radio operations on and by following us on twitter.

The State of America’s Voice

VOA Director David Ensor

In a world where too many governments still try to keep their people ignorant and afraid, VOA –and its sister organizations Radio Free Europe (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), Middle East Broadcasting Network (MBN) and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) — are among some of our nation’s best investments. Around the world, VOA remains a trusted source of unfiltered news, and of information about America.

For millions of people, it is a source of hope.

Read the rest of VOA Director David Ensor’s blog post about how the Voice of America is doing and some of its plans for 2013 here.