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Historical Highlights - 2000s

  • Shayan Rashid

Our Historical Highlights present a listing of significant dates and developments in VOA’s history.

Our Historical Highlights present a listing of significant dates and developments in VOA’s history. For a more detailed discussion of VOA’s overall development over the decades, visit our in-depth illustrated history chapters, which include historic audio clips and photographs. Click on the decade below to find more detailed information about that time in VOA's history.


January 6, 2000

VOA’s Tibetan Service broke the news that the leader of one of Tibetan Buddhism's most prominent sects, the 14-year old "Karmapa," had secretly left China and arrived in northern India.

February 2, 2000

VOA’s Talk to America launched its first live chat on the Internet between 1830 and 1900 UTC, as a new and innovative way for VOA to expand and connect with its audience.

March 2000

In a message to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, Burma’s human rights leader Aung San Suu Kyi defended the right to listen to VOA.

June 9, 2000

VOA’s Russian TV program Window on the World airs its first broadcast on Moscow-based Daryal TV at 7 p.m. Moscow time.

June 21, 2000

Four armed men attempted to enter forcibly VOA’s Angola Project office in Luanda.

July 3, 2000

For the first time in more than 40 years, Tibetans were able to see their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, officiate at a Monlam Chenmo, or Great Prayer Festival, via a VOA satellite from the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

August 2, 2000

VOA launches Straight Talk Africa, a program broadcast on radio, TV, and the Internet. The weekly program covers topics such as politics, health, social issues, and conflict resolution that are of interest to VOA's African audience

August 9, 2000

VOA Indonesian Service launches Halo VOA, a weekly program that covers critical issues and events shaping Indonesia's political, economic and social landscape.

September 18, 2000

VOA launches Hello America, a live Arabic-language radio and TV call-in program for the Middle East.

October 19, 2000

VOA launches an Internet version of its Pronunciation Guide, a database of correct pronunciations of people and place names often in the news.

November 1, 2000

VOA launches, a 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week Internet news service.

November 3, 2000

VOA News Review, a live 30-minute radio/TV/Internet simulcast examining the past week’s news events, debuts on VOA.

December 1, 2000

VOA produces World AIDS Day concerts in partnership with private broadcasters, non-governmental organizations and local communities to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa.

December 31, 2000

VOA Indonesian Service launches TV program Dunia Kita, a series of reports from VOA's video journalists around the world for exclusive broadcast on the all-news channel Metro TV, a VOA affiliate in Indonesia.

May 6, 2001

VOA Chinese Branch launches radio and TV simulcast Strait Talk, the first live radio and TV call-in program taking calls from both sides of the Taiwan Strait and simulcast by Taiwan's largest radio network, the Broadcasting Corporation of China (BCC).

June 14, 2001

In its first such venture in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Voice of America launches round-the-clock broadcasts via FM station 107.5 in Nairobi, Kenya.

August 8, 2001

VOA launches Special Report Africa, a weekly half-hour-long roundtable featuring panelists who are well-versed in the problems and policies of importance to sub-Saharan Africa.

September 5, 2001

In an exclusive interview with VOA's Tibetan Service, following taking the oath of office on September 5, the first elected Chief Minister of the Dalai Lama's "government-in-exile" Samdhong Rinpoche says that he will look for new means to pursue the Dalai Lama's "middle way" approach to China on the issue of Tibet. That approach has been to seek what the Dalai Lama has called "genuine autonomy" for Tibet rather than independence from China.

September 10, 2001

The Voice of America’s Chinese Branch officially launches its new web site for China at Test-launched in July, the site offers U.S., regional, and international news in Mandarin, and features an advanced search engine and improved layout and graphics. It replaces the branch’s former site, available since 1995 but blocked by Chinese authorities since 1997.

September 11, 2001

VOA moves to an all-news format and immediately expands broadcasting in Arabic and Persian to cover the terrorist attacks on the United States.

September 17, 2001

VOA's Afghan languages, Dari and Pashto, begin a series of broadcast expansions to cover ongoing events in the United States, Afghanistan and the region. Special daily television programming on the war on terrorism is also broadcast.

September 21, 2001

In her first interview after taking office, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri talks exclusively with the Voice of America's Indonesian Service at Blair House, for radio and television. The exclusive video is broadcast by all major television and radio stations in Indonesia.

September 28, 2001

VOA Chinese Branch launches radio and TV simulcast Pro and Con, a quick-fire political talk show with experts debating topics from the overseas Chinese democracy movement to India-Pakistan relations; and Cultural Odyssey, an original American arts and entertainment program, is now distributed in China and Taiwan.

October 4, 2001

VOA French to Africa Service launches the radio and TV simulcast Washington Forum, a live journalists’ roundtable featuring topics of interest to audiences in Francophone Africa.

November 1, 2001

The Voice of America's online international news service, VOANews.COM, marks one year of providing reliable, balanced, and comprehensive multimedia news to a global audience. VOA provides its Internet audience with current news and features in 53 languages paired with more than 200 hours of audio and video programs streamed daily.

November 16, 2001

For the second time in two years, Voice of America's Greek Service Chief George Bistis and Turkish Service Chief Taclan Suerdem receive the Ipekci Peace and Friendship Prize for Communication. Bistis and Suerdem were chosen "for their multifaceted and sincere cooperation in support of the Greek-Turkish rapprochement on an international level."

January 25, 2002

VOA Kurdish inaugurates its first-ever call-in show Hello Washington, engaging listeners in discussions of human rights, cultural rights and democratic representation for the Kurds.

February 25, 2002

President George W. Bush speaks at VOA in honor VOA's 60 years of broadcasting to the world.

March 4, 2002

Chosun Ilbo, one of South Korea’s oldest and largest daily newspapers, now links its Internet site, Digital Chosun, to VOA to take Korean Internet surfers to VOA's new Korean-language Internet site (

March 11, 2002

The Broadcasting Board of Governors signs agreements in Bahrain and Qatar for FM radio transmission of the Middle East Radio Network, paving the way for broad distribution of the new service.

March 22, 2002

The Middle East Radio Network, a unique, U.S. government-sponsored Arabic-language broadcasting service, goes on the air across the region in the initial phase of a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week service. "Now, listeners across the Middle East will have an opportunity to get their news, information and entertainment in a whole new format," said Norman J. Pattiz, a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

The BBG oversees all U.S., non-military, international broadcasting and spearheaded creation of the service. "They’ll also be able to learn the truth about America and what it stands for," Pattiz said.

March 26, 2002

El Salvador's Vice President Carlos Quintanilla Shmidt is one of the guests on Hablemos con Washington broadcast live from VOA affiliate YSKL Radio Network in San Salvador, El Salvador.

April 29, 2002

The University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication presents the Voice of America with one of its three Payne Awards for Ethics in Journalism for 2002. The Payne Awards were established by Ancil Payne, a long-time Northwest leader in broadcast journalism. The Payne Awards honor journalists who encourage public trust in the media by courageously practicing the highest standards of their profession in the face of political or economic pressures.

April 29, 2002

The American Foreign Service Association selects Voice of America News Director Andre de Nesnera as the winner of its "Tex Harris Award for Constructive Dissent" for 2002. The award is presented to a U.S. Foreign Service specialist who has "exhibited extraordinary accomplishment involving initiative, integrity, intellectual courage and constructive dissent."

Mr. de Nesnera was serving as news director when VOA aired portions of a controversial September 2001 interview with Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. VOA used brief excerpts from the interview in a news piece that also included the voices of President George W. Bush; John Esposito, a scholar of Islam at Georgetown University; and Abdullah Abdullah, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance.

May 13, 2002

VOA expands its coverage of Andean regional news and issues through Enfoque Andino (Andean Focus), a half-hour daily Spanish radio program offering a panoramic view of regional events and issues from international and U.S. perspectives.

May 30, 2002

VOA’s Swahili Service marks 40 years of broadcasting to Africa. Swahili was the first African language to be aired on VOA.

July 4, 2002

VOA’s Azerbaijani and Pashto Services celebrate their 20th anniversaries.

September 20, 2002

VOA launches its first 24-hour-a-day radio programming stream in Ivory Coast’s capital city, Abidjan, bringing listeners news and information in French all day, every day.

October 31, 2002

Ventana a Cuba (Window on Cuba), debuts – a 30-minute Spanish-language radio program featuring news, information, and interviews with Cubans inside and outside the country on a wide variety of issues.

November 5, 2002

VOA begins Housecall, a new English weekly call-in show to Africa, focusing on health issues and promoting better health conditions.

December 13, 2002

VOA Direct Connection (VOA DC) debuts – a fast-paced weekend radio program for Indonesian listeners featuring popular music, news, and information on pop culture developments around the world.

December 19, 2002

Radio Farda begins, a unique Persian-language radio service jointly produced by VOA and RFE/RL. In an exclusive statement, President Bush speaks to Iranians through Radio Farda, telling them they “deserve a free press to express themselves and to help build an open, democratic, and free society.”

January 14, 2003

VOA launches a new Arabic-language website to reach the growing number of Arabic speakers online.

January 27, 2003

VOA debuts Studio 7, a half-hour radio broadcast for Zimbabwe featuring balanced and objective news reports, correspondent reports from Zimbabwe and the region, newsmaker interviews, and features on health, family, sports, music and culture.

January 29, 2003

The President of the Association of North Korean Defectors in Seoul praises VOA’s Korean Service for doubling its broadcast hours to Korea, to 3 hours daily.

February 10, 2003

Ejo Bite? (How About the Future?) debuts, a VOA radio program for youth in Rwanda and Burundi in the Kirundi and Kinyarwanda languages featuring news, features, interviews, music, and drama.

April 24, 2003

VOA launches America Today, a one-hour radio show introducing America to a Chinese audience and featuring live call-ins on issues of interest to young Chinese aspiring to study in or visit the United States.

May 15, 2003

Reaching 240 million Bangla speakers in Bangladesh and India, VOA’s Bangla Service celebrates its 45TH anniversary.

May 30, 2003

VOA journalist Leta Hong Fincher and her colleague, TV editor Kathleen Schrader, received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for their story "Traffic of Tears," a rare and penetrating look at China and the estimated 10,000 annual victims of cross-border trafficking.

July 2, 2003

In an exclusive interview with VOA, President George W. Bush stated that President Charles Taylor must leave Liberia to ensure peace in the country.

July 6, 2003

VOA launches News and Views, a nightly Farsi-language television program aimed at reaching millions of Iranians who watch satellite television.

July 14, 2003

VOA’s Hausa Service debuts Gani Ya Korai Ji (Immigrant Voices), a program capturing the experience of African immigrants who live and work in the United States.

September 1, 2003

Jurnal VOA, a new daily VOA Indonesian TV news show, debuts on Metro TV in Indonesia.

September 24, 2003

In an exclusive interview with VOA, the Dalai Lama states that he is ready to meet Chinese leaders in order to resolve the stalemate in Tibet.

December 2, 2003

VOA launches the first ever Uzbek-language TV feed to ten affiliate stations in Uzbekistan.

March 31, 2004

Albania’s Prime Minister Fatos Nano holds a press conference at VOA headquarters, and affirms his country’s support for the fight against terrorism.

May 3, 2004

Armenia TV partners with VOA on daily Armenian-language TV news feed, airing during Armenia TV’s news program.

May 13, 2004

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola holds a press conference for international media at VOA headquarters.

May 19, 2004

VOA Health Hotline debuts, a weekly call-in radio show for Vietnamese listeners to ask questions and comment on issues related to health and well-being.

May 31, 2004

VOA doubles its Afan Oromo and Tigrigna language broadcasts to Ethiopia, and Tigrigna broadcasts to Eritrea, increasing the programs to 30 minutes, Monday through Friday.

September 17, 2004

Albanian Head of State Alfred Moisiu awards his country’s Presidential medal for “special civilian merit” to VOA’s Albanian Service.

November 2, 2004

In response to unprecedented demand, VOA carries news of the U.S. presidential election to a worldwide audience in 44 languages over radio, television, and the Internet.

January 19, 2005

The Beijing News Awards Committee presents VOA Mandarin Service China correspondent Kunghua Chang with the first-ever “Award for Excellence in Broadcast News” in a ceremony in Beijing, China.

January 21, 2005

President Álvaro Uribe of Colombia appears on VOA’s weekly Spanish-language TV program Foro Interamericano (Interamerican Forum), calling for trade integration of the Americas.

February 16, 2005

Nigerian and U.S. officials open the VOA Kano Reporting Center in Kano, Nigeria.

March 21, 2005

VOA’s Spanish Service celebrates 45 years of broadcasting to Latin America.

March 23, 2005

VOA debuts Talk to VOA, the first regular TV program offered to Tibetans apart from those produced by broadcasters within the People’s Republic of China.

April 6, 2005

In an exclusive interview with VOA’s Kurdish Service, President of Iraq Jalal Talabani says his new government will represent all Iraqis. Talabani said, “My plan today is to struggle against terrorism and to have peace for the country, and to help to have a democratic constitution as soon as possible.

May 26, 2005

VOA launches a 24-hour-a-day FM radio program stream in Ghana’s capital city, Accra. President John Agyekum Kufuor praised the launch during a special appearance on VOA’s Straight Talk Africa TV/radio/Internet program.

May 27, 2005 equals several leading U.S. news organizations (look up which ones) in user satisfaction, according to a survey by the American Customer Satisfaction Survey (ACSI), a leading third-party measurement tool of customer satisfaction.

June 16, 2005

Presidents Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia and John Kufuor of Ghana appear as guests on VOA’s Africa Journal TV program, discussing the need to improve democracy and economic freedom and stability for Africa’s people.

June 18, 2005

Luis Ramirez, VOA’s Beijing correspondent, receives a Human Rights Press Award, one of Asia’s top annual journalism awards.

June 22, 2005

Mozambique president Armando Guebuza tells VOA’s Portuguese Service that relations between his country and the U.S. are very good, and urges more investment in Africa by the American business community.

July 1, 2005

During a visit to VOA, Colombia’s President Álvaro Uribe defends Colombia’s new “peace and justice law” from charges by activists and international groups that it is too lenient.

July 15, 2005

The Azerbaijani Union of Journalists Without Borders grants VOA’s Azerbaijani Service the “Most Objective Radio Station” award.

September 12, 2005

In response to audience requests, VOA doubles its Amharic language broadcasts, and adjusts the times and frequencies for Afan Oromo and Tigrigna language broadcasts.

September 13, 2005

Talk To America, VOA’s daily international simulcast call-in show, adds SMS text messaging as a means for listeners to join the program’s live discussions.

September 21, 2005

During an exclusive interview with VOA’s French and Central Africa Services, President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi vows to achieve comprehensive peace and restore social order to the country.

November 14, 2005

VOA launches Beyond the Headlines, a TV news program in Urdu, in partnership with Pakistan’s Geo TV.

January 26, 2006

During a press conference at VOA headquarters, former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto tells reporters that she is prepared to go to Pakistan to face charges.

February 2, 2006

In an exclusive interview at VOA, Bosnian President Ivo Miro Jovic tells VOA’s Studio Washington audience that “it is clear that changing borders is out of the question and that we can reach prosperity only through uniting with the European Union.”

March 23, 2006

In a speech to the people of Liberia from VOA headquarters, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf expresses appreciation for U.S. support of Liberia’s “transition from war to peace.” In an unprecedented endeavor, VOA affiliate Radio Veritas in Monrovia pre-empts regular programming to air VOA’s live coverage of President Sirleaf’s speech.

March 24, 2005

VOA launches Washington Barta (Washington Talk), its first television programming exclusively for Bangladesh.

May 18, 2006

In an exclusive early-morning radio broadcast from Dharmsala, India, VOA airs the first live debate in Tibet’s history between two candidates vying for the position of prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).

September 30, 2006

The Voice of America (VOA) debuts two 30-minute television news programs to Afghanistan. The Saturday-through-Thursday newscasts, airing in the Dari and Pashto languages in a one-hour block titled TV Ashna (Friend), offer a new source of regional and world news to Afghanistan's emergent television market.

October 5, 2006

The debut of News Talk, an hour-long discussion program featuring a panel of experts examining the day’s top news stories, brings VOA’s Persian-language daily TV broadcasting to Iran to four hours.

November 22, 2006

Voice of America broadcaster Doug Bernard is named “International Presenter of the Year – Radio” by the Association of International Broadcasting (AIB) for his work as host of VOA’s Talk to America program.