Today the Voice of America (VOA) celebrates 75 years on the air. From its first 15-minute radio broadcast in German in 1942, VOA has grown into a multimedia international broadcast service providing programming and content in 47 languages on multiple platforms, including radio, television, and mobile.
On that first broadcast, announcer William Harlan Hale set the standard for all future VOA programs when he told his audience: "We bring you Voices from America. Today, and daily from now on, we shall speak to you about America and the war. The news may be good for us. The news may be bad. But we shall tell you the truth."
Today those words carry the weight of the VOA Charter that requires VOA, by law, to "serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news." What's more, VOA news must "be accurate, objective, and comprehensive."
"It's been 75 years since we first began broadcasting objective news and information around the world," said VOA Director Amanda Bennett. "And now, I think what we do here is more important than ever."
Over the years, VOA correspondents and freelance reporters in many parts of the world have been on the scene to cover major world events. In 1989, VOA East European correspondent Jolyon Naegele reported on demonstrations in Czechoslovakia and the fall of the communist government. That same year on the other side of the world, VOA increased programming and added staff to its Beijing bureau, to cover the demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. VOA Beijing Bureau Chief Al Pessin was expelled from China for his reporting.
Today VOA broadcasters use television and radio studios at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. to broadcast news and other programming through 2,500 television and radio affiliate stations around the world. At the same time, they provide content for mobile devices and interact with their audiences through social media. In 2016, the Voice of America's weekly audience across all platforms averaged more than 236 million people worldwide. Click here for more information on Voice of America's 75 years of history and here for a short video on its history.