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VOA Khmer Service Celebrates 55th Anniversary of First Broadcast

Celebrated broadcaster returns for guest appearance

Washington, D.C., August 16, 2010 - VOA's Khmer Service is marking its 55th anniversary, with veteran broadcasters recalling the monumental events that shaped the news in those years, from the Vietnam War, to the genocide of the Khmer Rouge regime and the birth of a constitutional monarchy.

Khen Chen, who retired in 2007, says of her 45-year career, "I'm very proud of working for VOA Khmer, there was something new every day, it was a blessing."

In her first years, Chen says, nearly every newscast by the Khmer Service was dominated by U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. In 1975 the Khmer Rouge seized power and VOA reported on the darkest days of Cambodian history, the genocide and starvation that left from one to three-million people dead, a period that saw the birth of the term, "killing fields."

Chen was a student at an all-girls high school in Phnom Penh, Cambodia when she spotted a job advertisement for Voice of America in 1962 and began a life-long career broadcasting to her homeland.

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During a guest appearance by Chen on Monday's Khmer radio show, listeners called in thrilled to hear her voice back on the air. "Ang Khen (Chen's on-air name) is such a well-known personality," said show host Sothearith Im, "it is wonderful that she is able to celebrate with us."

Although the service first went on the air in August of 1955, it was dropped after several months and reintroduced again in 1962. Since then, VOA Director Danforth W. Austin says, "the Khmer Service has continuously served as a source of trustworthy information on the region and the world to Cambodians." Today the staff reaches millions of people through radio, television and the internet.

Visit the Khmer English-language website at For Khmer, go to

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 125 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages and are intended exclusively for audiences outside of the United States.

For more information, call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail