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The Era of VOA Europe - 2002-04-17


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

Just after five hours Greenwich Mean Time on the October 15, 1985, a new and controversial VOA service hit the air.

"Good morning, Munich, Oslo, Paris, Rome, Geneva. This is Dan Alexander on the all-new VOA Europe, born in the USA. . ." said the announcer.

For the first time since World War II, the Voice of America was targeting widespread broadcasts to Western Europe. The target was Europe's "successor generation" - English-speaking young people who perhaps did not share their parents' warm feelings for America. The attraction was American pop music and friendly disc jockeys.

VOA Europe, which was carried on FM affiliates, expanded into Eastern Europe. It was so popular in Sofia, Bulgaria, that young people crowded into a restaurant called the "VOA Café" to listen. But 11 years later VOA Europe went off the air.

Because all of Europe was rapidly developing a free and competitive media environment, VOA decided the resources being spent to reach Europe could be better used elsewhere. VOA executive John Stevenson says some people thought that was an unwise decision, among them a prominent member of the U.S. Congress, Dante Fassell.

"And I will never forget what he said. He said, 'When you stop communicating with your friends, they can quickly become your enemies,'" Mr. Fassell said.

VOA Europe went off the air anyway. But its example is about to be followed by a new VOA Arabic language service for the Middle East, featuring popular music, information, and lively personalities.

To write to us about our anniversary, send an email to anniversary@voanews.com. Or, send regular mail to Anniversary, VOA News Now, Washington, D.C. 20237, USA.

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