VOA kicks off year-long birthday bash

WASHINGTON: 2002 marks the 60th anniversary of Voice of America (VOA), and the year-long celebration kicked off last week with President Bush.

WASHINGTON: 2002 marks the 60th anniversary of Voice of America (VOA), and the year-long celebration kicked off last week with President Bush.

VOA began as a radio broadcast from America to Europe during World War II, an effort to deliver US news of the war to occupied territories. Today, it has grown into a multimedia operation broadcasting over radio, TV, and the internet to an audience of more than 90 million people.

Though it has come close to being dissolved many times in its 60-year history, VOA rose to prominence again following the attacks of September 11. Shortly after that time, VOA began expanding its broadcasts to Muslim countries, and added two Afghan dialects to the 53 languages already in use.

The VOA launched a year of celebratory concerts last week with a speech by President Bush. "For decades, the Voice of America has told the world the truth about America and our policies,

he said. "Through a cold war - in crisis and in calm - VOA has added to the momentum of freedom."

Other events will include concerts featuring musicians from around the globe, held in the VOA building in Washington. The in-house staff is publicizing the events both through conventional media (such as radio, TV, and newspapers), and also through government agencies, embassies, and the Capitol.

A spokeswoman said, "We're sending invitations to media, schools, colleges, music schools, the Senate and House, and all government agencies within walking distance of us, which number about 25."

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