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Leading the VOA Studio Tour

See behind the scenes

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Part of my duties as a Public Relations intern at VOA is conducting the studio tour. The groups can range from 40 Iraqi students visiting the United States for the first time, to a couple from Ohio touring D.C. But despite the type of audience present, the message of the tour is constant. My job is to inform the public about VOA’s mission, which is to broadcast accurate, balanced, and comprehensive news to our global audience.

Leading a successful tour is easy, especially since VOA facilities engage visitors in a behind-the-scenes look at a live studio broadcast. After setting up the technical components for the tour, such as turning on TVs and booting up the 3D globe presentation, I wait patiently for the “walk-in” visitors, those without a scheduled appointment.

Once everyone has arrived, I lead them through the hallways of VOA with an iPod track explaining the murals and pictures they are passing. The globe room showcases the VOA Charter and broadcast languages, as well as the virtual globe show. The next stop overlooks Studio 51, which gives the guests an intimate look at an action-packed, live broadcast. Every inch of the control room is explained in detail, so the visitors are able to connect the auditory information with the visual in front of them, resulting in a fuller, more satisfying experience. The radio studios follow a similar format, the tour ends in the tour in the briefing room, where organizational lectures may take place. Sometimes a speaker is scheduled to talk more in depth about their work at VOA (Andre DeNesnera, VOA’s Senior Diplomatic correspondent, is always captivating).

The floor is opened for last-minute questions, and as an intern, I do my best to answer them. With a smile, I pass out VOA Studio Tour buttons and thank the guests for coming. Gesturing to the company computer, I ask for their feedback to improve future visits. When everyone has left, I close up the briefing room, leaving it ready for the next group of curious visitors.

To arrange your own visit to VOA, check VOA’s Studio Tour information page. To learn more about internships at VOA, visit our intern information page.

by Taylor Merriam
Taylor, a rising freshman at Virginia Tech majoring in Communications, interned in VOA's Office of Public Relations during Spring 2010. She led the VOA Studio Tour for tourists and special groups, wrote material for press releases and the website, researched new projects for VOA broadcasting, and represented VOA at outside meetings.