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The Voice of America doubles its power : the new Greenville complex

Date: 1963 | Identifier: TK6558.G74 V64X 1963
The Voice of America doubles its power : the new Greenville complex. [Washington, D.C. : United States Information Agency, 1963?] 15 p. : ill. ; 22 cm. Cover title. more...

The Voice of America
Doubles Its Power

Photo of VOA Greenville Complex Interior]

new Greenville Complex

“The Voice of America carries a heavy responsibility. Its burden of truth is not easy to bear. It must explain to a curious and suspicious world what we are. It must tell them of our basic beliefs. It must tell them of a country which is in some respects a rather old country—certainly old as Republics go. And yet it must make our ideas alive and new and vital in the high competition which goes on around the world since the end of World War II.

“In the last 20 years the Voice of America and its parent organization have grown in strength and stature, but in the next twenty years our opportunities to tell our story will expand beyond belief.”

—President John F. Kennedy


Photo of President John F. Kennedy]


Official Seal of the United States]

The world's largest and most powerful long-range radio facility is on the air.

It is broadcasting America's story to the world from Greenville, North Carolina. It has a total output of 4,800,000 watts, the equivalent power of 96 top-strength U.S. commercial radio stations.

The Greenville facility doubles the shortwave broadcasting power of the U.S. Information Agency's global radio network which is known to millions around the world as “The Voice of America”.

The Greenville plant covers 6,192.9 acres, divided among three sites. One is a receiver site; the others, transmitter locations. Total cost was 23 million dollars. Its operation requires about 100 employees working in shifts around the clock.

The new facilities enable the Voice of America to broadcast more loudly and clearly direct to Latin America, Europe and Africa. Not only does this provide better reception for millions of listeners and increase the total audience, but it gives Voice of America stations in Europe, the Mediterranean and Africa more reliable and higher quality programs for relay to their target areas.


Antenna towers at Greenville.

The U.S. Information Agency uses all means of communication to the people of the world, including the printed word in newspapers, pamphlets, magazines and books; visual material such as photographs, displays, exhibits, motion pictures and television; and direct personal contact through some 900 USIA officers working out of 225 offices in 104 countries.

Each medium of communication has inherent advantages; all are important. But radio is unique in that it cannot effectively be stopped at national boundaries, even by “jamming”; it is relatively inexpensive; it reaches tremendous audiences instantaneously.

“Jamming” is the name for the Communist attempt to blot out incoming radio programs by putting their own transmitters, broadcasting various forms of unpleasant noise, on the same frequency.

The Communists use about 2,000 such transmitters against Free World broadcasts in Soviet and Bloc languages. A similar effort by us would cost over $150,000,000 yearly. The annual operating cost of the entire Voice of America totals some $22,000,000.


Operation of the Greenville station will cost about $2,450,000 a year. This will be offset in part by the retirement of obsolete Voice of America transmitters at Wayne, New Jersey, and Brentwood and Schenectady, New York. In the decade since 1952 this is the first significant addition to the Voice of America network. In that interval there have been great electronic advances.

Greenville is the strongest link in the Voice of America's short wave chain. The complex includes six 500,000 watt transmitters, six 250,000 watt transmitters and six 50,000 watt transmitters. Broadcasts are targeted through 95 directional antennas.

Other radio relay links also being strengthened:

# Voice of America stations at Dixon and Delano, California, and Bethany, Ohio, are being modernized.


Air transportable relay station in Liberia.

New antennas have been built for RIAS, the Agency's station in Free Berlin, permitting a five-fold increase of power at night for broadcasts which blanket East Germany.

# The power of six transmitters leased by the Voice of America from the BBC at Woofferton, England, is being increased five-fold to 250,000 watts each.

# A major relay station is being built for VOA outside Monrovia, Liberia, and will be on the air in the Fall of 1963. It will have six 250,000 watt and two 50,000 watt transmitters.

# Transmitters now aboard the U.S. Coast Guard cutter “Courier” anchored in the harbor of Rhodes, in the Mediterranean, are being replaced by more efficient land based transmitters.

# Several highly-versatile mobile radio transmitters, both short-wave and standard wave, are now functioning temporarily in Liberia and Marathon Key off Florida.

As a major link in the chain, Greenville supports all of these. The overall effects make it more difficult for the Communists to keep the truth from their people and those of the captive nations through “jamming”, and make the Voice of America much more audible in the Free World.

Forty percent of VOA's programming effort is aimed at the Iron and Bamboo Curtain countries.

In addition to its shortwave transmitters, the Voice operates seven medium and long wave transmitters, including three of a million watts each, among the world's most powerful. The latter are at Munich, Germany; the Philippines and Okinawa.


The Voice of America has been on the air around the clock in many languages since February 24, 1942. The first words spoken then, in German, were:

“The Voice of America speaks. Today America has been at war for seventy-nine days. Daily, at this time, we shall speak to you about America and the war—the news may be good or bad—we shall tell you the truth.”

And truth is still the key word in every Voice broadcast.

Extensive USIA research has shown that, in ordinary times, the daily audience of the Voice of America is numbered in the tens of millions. In times of crisis, such as when President Kennedy alerted the world to the secret Soviet missile buildup in Cuba, or on historic occasions, such as during the U.S. manned orbital flights, VOA listeners number in the hundreds of millions.


Microwave transmitter in Washington.

Last year the Voice of America received more than 200,000 letters from listeners overseas, evidence of great interest in the programs.

The Voice programs its broadcasts so that they can be heard at peak audience listening times. These are usually in the morning or evening, and they vary in a steady progression as the earth rotates on its axis.

Voice of America programs originate in studios in Washington, D.C. From there they travel by microwave links to Greenville or by land lines to other East or West Coast transmitters.

These broadcasts from the U.S. are either heard directly by listeners, are picked up and rebroadcast by the Voice of America's overseas relay stations, or are picked up by local radio stations and either rebroadcast immediately or recorded and rebroadcast later on scheduled programs.


Greenville end of microwave.

Some 260 radio stations in 15 Latin American countries tune in on Voice of America Spanish-language programs and rebroadcast them on standard wave in whole or in part to their own listeners. The more powerful transmissions of the Greenville facility should make these pickups of the VOA even clearer, and should increase VOA's own direct listening audience.


The directive assigned to the Voice, to maintain credibility among its vast overseas audience through steadfast integrity, contributes to the wide acceptance of its programs. The directive states:

“The long-range interests of the United States are served by communicating directly with the peoples of the world by radio. To be


RIAS reporter broadcasts live from Berlin Wall]


Voice jazz celebrity Willis Conover interviews Benny Goodman]


RIAS reporter broadcasts live from Berlin
Wall; Voice jazz celebrity Willis Conover interviews
Benny Goodman; Voice team in Tokyo airs
dramatic sequence.

Voice team in Tokyo airs dramatic sequence.]


USIA Katmandu receiving early morning newscast from Master Control at Greenville, for distribution to Nepalese newspapers.]


USIA Katmandu receiving early morning
newscast from Master Control at Greenville, for
distribution to Nepalese newspapers.



recording press conference at U.S. Embassy in Bangkok for rebroadcast throughout Thailand]


high speed recording in Washington of commentaries for placement on overseas stations]


recording press conference at U.S. Embassy
in Bangkok for rebroadcast throughout Thailand;
high speed recording in Washington of commentaries
for placement on overseas stations; field
interview in Burma.

interview in Burma.]

effective, the Voice of America must win the attention and respect of listeners. These principles will govern VOA broadcasts:

“1. VOA will establish itself as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news. VOA news will be accurate, objective and comprehensive.

“2. VOA will represent America, not a single segment of America. It will therefore present a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions.

“3. As an official radio, VOA will present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively. VOA will also present responsible discussion and opinion on these policies.”


The Voice of America must ever be conscious of the fact that it bears a great responsibility in being, and in everywhere being recognized as, the official radio of the United States Government. As an organ of Government, it is paid for by tax dollars appropriated by the Congress.

The accuracy of its news is of more importance to the Voice than speed. For that reason, the central news room will not usually use an item unless it has been verified from at least two independent sources. If it deviates from this rule, it will make the fact obvious to its listeners.

The central news report, prepared originally in English, is translated into the 35 foreign languages for immediate broadcast. This means that in every language, in every part of the world, the Voice of America talks the same.

Variations in the foreign-language newscasts are due


Newsroom at the Voice.

solely to the known differences of news interests in different regions of the world.


Communist international broadcasts top those of the Voice of America. The Soviet Union broadcast 1,205 hours weekly and Red China 787 hours weekly against the Voice of America's 740 hours, at the end of 1962.

The Communist bloc as a whole, including stations in the Satellites, approximated 3,800 weekly hours of international broadcasting. They use not only their own national and satellite countries’ radios, but also clandestine radio transmitters that masquerade their identities with various pseudonyms.


The Voice of America seeks to build understanding abroad of the United States by broadcasting news of world significance, by outlining American foreign policy and by providing information about American life, industry, education, arts, science, agriculture, sports, music and religion.

In a typical 30-minute program, the first half is devoted to factual news; the second half to commentaries analyzing the significance of current happenings, and to features such as those designed to give deeper insight into the American way of life.

It does this in English, and in 35 other languages in direct broadcasts. The Voice of America uses as many as 60 languages in its work, including taped programs prepared for rebroadcast over thousands of medium-wave local stations overseas.


The entire operation of the U.S. Information Agency each year costs less than a Polaris submarine. The largest U.S. commercial advertising agency spends more on radio and TV bookings than the annual cost of USIA. This sum is more than six times the yearly budget of the Voice. Twenty-eight U.S. advertising agencies in 1962 had radio-TV billings greater than the operating cost of the VOA.

“Today, we in the State Department consider the information program an indispensable dimension of American diplomacy. The Voice of America and our other information activities demonstrate our respect for the opinions of people as well as governments.”

—Secretary of State Dean Rusk


The VOA Greenville radio facility consists of three sites located west, northeast and southeast of the attractive and enterprising city of Greenville, 265 miles south of Washington, D.C., in North Carolina's fertile coastal plain section. Greenville has a population of about 23,000.

The Greenville location was chosen after careful consideration to insure the best electronic propagation conditions consistent with economic and engineering factors. Many factors had to be taken into account. These included remoteness from other communication services to reduce the possibility of interference, proximity of large quantities of reliable electric power, type of terrain and suitability for construction, and availability of property.


Closest and to the west of Greenville is the VOA receiving station. Receiving and transmitting stations are separated to prevent interference in the broadcasts. The cement and glass structure has modern lines. Conspicuous features outside are the receiving antennas and the microwave tower to which programs are relayed from the Washington studios.

Inside, the Master Control is a dramatic sight in its complexity of lights, dials and switches. Also of interest are the Receiver Room

with its long banks of receivers in eight-foot cabinets, and the Teletype Room with its complement of communications receivers.

Isolated as the building is, provision has been made for emergency situations with bunkroom, food storage space and kitchen, as well as offices for the operating personnel.


The buildings on the two transmitter sites—2715 and 2821 acres respectively—are identical structures. They are larger than the receiver building, but of similar modern, utilitarian architecture.

Brightly painted orange-and-white “curtain antennas”, some 400 feet high, dominate the cleared, level grounds.

Each of the transmitter buildings houses three 500,000 watt, three 250,000 watt and three 50,000 watt transmitters. They flank the master controls which are on a central open dais.

A striking feature at the station is the massive, gleaming aluminum-clad radio frequency switchgear structure which abuts the transmitter building itself. This unit stands three stories high and covers an area about 1/3 the size of a football field. It houses 55 switching

“In my opinion, the advent of the cheap transistor radio will have as great an impact as the invention of the printing press and the airplane. All have shrunk our little world greatly. All are bringing the family of man closer and closer together—at a faster and faster rate, making the members of the family more interested in each other.

“It is to meet this curiosity, among other reasons, that international broadcasting has continued to flourish, reaching greater proportions every day.”

—Henry Loomis

Director, Voice of America

modules which perform the function of connecting and switching the nine transmitters to the proper antenna for the program being carried.

Besides offices and emergency staff facilities, the transmitting stations also have their own shops for machining, milling, antenna rigging and electronic equipment testing and repair.

The entire Greenville complex conveys a “strictly business” feeling to observers—and this is fitting. It has a big job to do for the Voice of America, radio spokesman for the American people.



“The Voice of America stands upon this above all: The truth shall be the guide. Truth may help us. It may hurt us. But helping us or hurting us we shall have the satisfaction of knowing that man can know us for what we are and can at least believe what we say.

“The truth may not alone make us free. But we shall never be free without knowing the truth.

“And for this the Voice of America is known by many, loved by some, hated by others.”

—Edward R. Murrow

Director, U.S. Information Agency

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