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Pat Gates Hosted VOA's <i>Breakfast Show</i> - 2002-04-24

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

Forty years ago, VOA launched what became one of its most popular programs - The Breakfast Show - co-hosted by a woman who became one of our most popular broadcasters, Pat Gates.

A pioneering broadcaster, Pat Gates was a correspondent for NBC radio in the 1950s, when few other women were on the aid.

Pat was chosen to host VOA's new Breakfast Show in Washington in 1962. The show was something new for VOA - more personal in its delivery, with its hosts Pat Gates and Phil Irwin talking about themselves, as well as telling other American stories.

"We were going to talk about our families, going to talk about the things we do in every day life, as well as the momentous things," said Ms. Gates, recalling plans for the new show. "We were going to talk to important people and people who have never been heard of but have important things to say. And that's why I always loved The Breakfast Show."

Long-time VOA listeners will remember Pat Gates' signature sign-off. She'd thank you for listening, and then remind you, "if you see someone without a smile, give him one of yours."

Pat's last VOA signoff was in 1986. But that was only the start of her second pioneering career. Then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan appointed her ambassador to Madagascar, making her the first VOA broadcaster to become an ambassador.

"I was what you would call a hybrid, I guess," said Ms. Gates. "And the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs had said to me that 'We really like the fact that you have had experience working with people of other cultures and working for the United States, so you have a feel for it.'"

Pat Gates currently chairs a board at the U.S. Foreign Service Institute, which trains American diplomats. She is also writing a book about her life, which will include her pioneering years at VOA and as an ambassador.

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