Voice of America

views updated May 08 2018


VOICE OF AMERICA (VOA) is a multilingual radio broadcasting service begun in 1942 and administered since 1953 by the United States Information Agency (USIA). The first VOA broadcast originated from New York City on 24 February 1942, just seventy-nine days after the United States entered World War II. Speaking in German, announcer William Harlan Hale told his listeners, "Here speaks a voice from America. Every day at this time we will bring you the news of the war. The news may be good. The news may be bad. We shall tell you the truth."

The agency is responsible for the dissemination of U.S. policy and other types of information to foreign countries and for combating enemy propaganda. In essence, it creates a face for the nation for foreign listeners. In administering the VOA, the director of the USIA reports to the secretary of state and the president of the United States. Under its congressionally mandated charter, the VOA seeks to broadcast reliable news stories, present a balanced view of U.S. culture, and report on U.S. policy. Programming is intended for non-U.S. audiences, and under provisions of the Smith-Mundt Act (1948) and a clarifying amendment in 1972, programs may not be broadcast within the United States without congressional approval.

VOA broadcasts have been blocked by communications services in some countries, which have criticized its programming as anticommunist propaganda, but the agency has continued to receive support from Congress and U.S. presidents into the post–Cold War years. In 1983, VOA established the International Broadcast Training Center in Washington to train broadcasters from developing countries and to demonstrate the value of a free press. In 1985, VOA founded Radio Marti for broadcasting to Cuba and in 1990 expanded its efforts to deliver uncensored news to that nation with the establishment of TV Marti. Voice of America continued its work in the 1990s with programs ranging from the promotion of democracy to the war on drugs.

In 2002 VOA broadcast over 900 hours of news, informational, educational, and cultural programs every week to an audience of some 94 million worldwide. VOA programs are produced and broadcast in English and fifty-two other languages through radio, satellite television, and the Internet.


Krugler, David F. The Voice of America and Domestic Propaganda Battles, 1945–1953. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2000.

Rawnsley, Gary D. Radio Diplomacyand Propaganda: The BBC and VOA in International Politics, 1956–1964. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996.

Laura A.Bergheim

See alsoAmerica as Interpreted by Foreign Observers ; Propaganda ; Radio .

Voice of America

views updated May 14 2018

Voice of America (VOA) Radio station subsidized by the US government. It presents news, other generally factual information, and cultural programmes aimed at both English-speaking citizens of foreign countries and USA troops serving abroad. VOA was originally set up by the US Office of War Information in 1943–44 to broadcast war news and propaganda. See also World Service