National VOA Museum board members visit Washington VOA

18:08 Fernando Luiz de Souza 0 Comments






Three VOA Museum board members visited the Voice of America in Washington, D.C. this week and learned more about VOA and its role worldwide today.

Board members Jay Adrick, Dave Snyder and Melinda Zemper made the trip. Snyder and Zemper met with a dozen VOA and Broadcast Board of Governors executives and staff to talk about synergies between the two entities and how they can work together to promote both the VOA agency and the VOA museum in West Chester.

The VOA museum now has a lease agreement with West Chester Township that allows it to begin a fundraising campaign to expand its exhibits and improve the building interior.

The Washington, D.C. based Voice of America is well-known internationally, but because of a long-standing U.S. law, known as the Smith-Mundt Act, VOA has been barred from domestic distribution of its materials. An amendment to Smith-Mundt approved by Congress this year relaxes the probation on domestic distribution and enables Americans to see the many radio, TV, internet and mobile news and feature stories produced by VOA journalists.

From left are David Ensor, Melinda Zemper and Dave Snyder
“The VOA is a best-kept secret for many Americans, but is a primary source of accurate news for 134 million people each day in 45 languages,” said Ken Rieser, VOA Museum board chair.

“Its mission has always been to broadcast accurate news in oppressed countries that are media-censored or democracies at risk.”
Voice of America is the largest of five international stations under the supervision of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio and TV Marti, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.

The National VOA Museum of Broadcasting is the only museum in the U.S. that will tell the history of the VOA and Cincinnati radio’s role in keeping the world safe for democracy during World War II and the Cold War.

The West Chester Bethany transmitting station broadcast war news during World War II to Europe and South America, and broadcast to South America and Africa through the Cold War. The building was decommissioned in 1995 and its 640 acres awarded to West Chester Township, Butler County Metroparks and Miami University. The sale of 75 acres that is now VOA Shopping Center helped pay for decommissioning expenses. Work continues to expand exhibits at the VOA museum.

Board members also looked at VOA photo archives while in Washington and selected photos that can be included in exhibits in the West Chester museum. Snyder and Zemper attended the 70 th anniversary celebration of the VOA Albanian Service. VOA has broadcast in Albania since 1943. Albanian envoys presented a presidential award to VOA, and an individual award to former Albanian Service Chief Elez Biberaj, who is now director of the VOA Eurasian Division.

In a videotaped message, Albanian President Bujar Nishani described VOA’s influence, saying it "gave us hope during a dark time in our history. It had the power to help our people forget their starvation."

In a separate message, Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga said, "VOA was the only voice reporting during the war [in Kosovo] and the refugee crisis that our people could listen to...may the Voice of America never go silent."

Snyder and Zemper also met with VOA director David Ensor and BBG public affairs director Letitia King to talk about VOA exhibit expansion at the museum. “We went to pick up a radio console that has historical significance and look at VOA photos,” said Zemper, "We didn’t expect the gracious, supportive reception VOA gave us. Everyone at VOA and BBG seems fueled by the importance of their mission. Despite some budget cuts over the past few years, their corporate culture seems very high. “We have a much clearer understanding now of how we can help promote VOA and how VOA can help us with ideas and support as we build out museum exhibits and programs. “
“David Ensor mentioned that VOA is little-known in the U.S. today even though it is a bright beacon of hope for oppressed people throughout the world,” said Snyder. “We need to communicate our Cincinnati story in conjunction with VOA, too. “Of all the money we spend in government, VOA likely provides some of the most important services—reporting news and information that gives hope to those who need it.”

The VOA museum will be open this Saturday and Sunday, May 17 and 18 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the historic VOA-Bethany station building at 8070 Tylersville Road in West Chester in conjunction with the VOA BBQ Bash on Saturday. Suggested donation for museum tours is $5 for adults and $1 for children under 12. For more information about VOA museums, go to www.voamuseum.org .

The VOA BBQ Bash will be held Friday, May 17 from 6 p.m. to midnight and Saturday May 18 from 11 a.m. to midnight on the front lawn of the VOA-Bethany building. West Chester Rotary Club expects about 5,000 people to attend the blues, BBQ and beer fest. A portion of profits will benefit the National VOA Museum of Broadcasting. Admission to the BBQ bash is $5 per car and $2 per person for walk-ins.

For more information on the bash, go to www.voabbqbash.org.

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