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VOA's Voyager Roamed US Telling America's Story - 2002-02-25

A VOA Snapshot - Part of VOA's 60th Anniversary Year Coverage.

VOA reports to the world from virtually every corner of the United States. To facilitate that, we built a mobile studio in 1985, and dubbed it Voyager. The red, white and blue studio bus was staffed by a changing crew of technicians, reporters and producers from different language services.

"We roamed from city to city finding American stories," says Irina Burgener, one of the producers. "We talked to farmers. We talked to small town mayors. We talked to school teachers. We talked to kids. Whoever happened to come our way, we stopped and talked to them."

The Voyager's first trip was to a country music festival in Nashville, Tennessee.

"It went worldwide live as it was happening on stage," Ms. Burgener said. "And we had the country music performers come into the studio and do interviews, talk to the world right from the spot."

Voyager, and a later vehicle nicknamed Son of Voyager, visited every American state except Hawaii and Alaska. VOA crews followed the trails of early explorers and visited high-tech modern-day entrepeneurs. One day, it arrived in a small southern town just in time for an Independence Day parade.

"One of the policemen picks up one of the megaphones and says, 'Stop, stop, the Voyager, the Voice of America, has come to Staunton, Virginia!' The entire parade stopped and let us through. And people who were watching the parade were applauding," Ms. Burgener said.

Another time, Native Americans welcomed Voyager with an elaborate song and dance performance in native costumes.

But the Voyager was costly to operate, and after nearly a decade its traveling days came to an end. VOA reporters still travel around the country, but usually by plane, and usually without the kind of reception the Voyager and its crews enjoyed.

Snapshots will continue throughout our 60th anniversary year, here at

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Washington, D.C. 20237 USA.