Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Voice of America

Founded on February 17, 1942, Voice of America is “a US government-funded multi-media news source and the official external broadcasting institution of the United States.” (Wikipedia)  Headquartered in Washington, DC, VOA provides news, information, and cultural programming for radio, television, and the internet outside of the US in English and forty-seven (!) other languages. VOA began broadcasting to combat Nazi propaganda with accurate and unbiased news and information. Per their website ever since then, VOA has served the world with a consistent message of truth, hope, and inspiration.

The first words spoken by William Harlan Hale, American journalist, writer, and editor who served in Army Intelligence during WWII, and broadcast in German over shortwave radio were “we bring you voices from America.” Here is the transcript:

MUSIC:           Battle Hymn

WINTER:        This is a voice from America.

KAPPEL:        This is a voice from America at war.

HALE:             Our voices are coming to you from New York over the Atlantic Ocean. They are transmitted to Germany by our friends at London Radio.

KAPPEL:        Today, America has been at war for fifty-eight days.

HALE:             Today, and every day from now on, we will be with you from America to talk about the war. Here in America, we get news from all over the world. The news may be good or bad for us…We will always tell you the truth.

VOA announcer and Austrian Robert Bauer began his radio career in the 1930s with the Austrian Freedom Broadcasting Station. Vocal about his anti-Nazi philosophy and regularly mocking Hitler through news stories, Bauer fled Austria in 1938 with one suitcase and never saw his mother again.

Another Austrian who joined the ranks of VOA broadcasters was Walter R. Roberts. While a student at Harvard Law School in 1942, he was approached by a professor and asked if he spoke German. When he replied in the affirmative, Walters was told “we need people like you.” Shortly thereafter he found himself on a train to Washington, DC.  

The VOA charter signed into law in 1976 by President Ford requires VOA to “serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news” and “be accurate, objective and comprehensive.” Located in Washington, DC the organization is funded from the same budget used for embassies and consulates. Broadcasts are distributed by satellite, cable, and FM, AM, and shortwave radio frequencies. They are also streamed on language services websites, social media sites and mobile platforms – a far cry from their initial thirty-eight second message sent over shortwave. 

A freelance writer for over ten years, Linda Shenton Matchett writes soul-quenching stories about ordinary women who do extraordinary things. Her novellas Love's Harvest, Love Found in Sherwood Forest, and On the Rails are available on Amazon. Under Fire, the first book in her series about WWII war correspondent/amateur sleuth Ruth Brown is being released in July 2017 by eLectio Publishing. Visit Linda at www.LindaShentonMatchett.com


  1. Linda, thank you for this wonderful tidbit of history about Voice of America. Loved reading this post.

  2. I loved learning some of the history behind Voice of America. Thank you Linda and I look forward to your new book Under Fire.