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VOA Tour Guide Margaret Jaffie - 2002-03-19

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

One of the most popular voices at the Voice of America wasn't a broadcaster. She was a tour guide. "I still think I had the best job there. It was wonderful." Margaret Jaffie conducted thousands of public tours of the VOA building in Washington, D.C., from 1975 to 1992.

She says before each tour, she'd ask each visitor where they were from and on one occasion, two, heavy-set men with Russian accents said they were from New York City. "A couple of weeks later, the Russian Language people [at VOA] came running down to tell me that I was written up in 'Pravda.' I said, 'Oh, how come?' They said, 'Well they were two men on your tour who really were from Russia. They were journalists. They wrote that they visited the Voice of America and met a feisty old lady, wearing tennis shoes, who was spreading propaganda," said Margaret Jaffie.

Margaret Jaffie wore tennis shoes because she walked so much through the VOA hallways. As for propaganda, she says she simply told "America's story to the world." And she sometimes had more direct contact with VOA listeners than many of our broadcasters.

"One boy said to me, 'I'm from Hungary.' He said, 'I want you to know my uncle went to jail for listening to the Voice of America.' He said, 'That's why I'm here. I wanted to hear it, too.' I was thrilled," she said.

Sometimes Ms. Jaffie's tours would fill the corridors and get in the way of a journalist rushing to a broadcast studio. Other times, special visitors would get a private tour.

Margaret Jaffie is retired now, but she cherishes the memories of her unique role in 'telling America's story to the world.'