#tbt - The Voice of America in World War II: a Cincinnati visionary helps FDR send the American message abroad
There’s a good reason why the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting is located on Crosley Boulevard in West Chester.
It’s a tribute to the creative genius of one Powel Crosley Jr. Yes, the same Powel Crosley, who “in 1934 … became the majority owner of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team...,” owning the Reds “until his death in 1961...”
The same Powel Crosley, who “by 1922 was the “leading radio manufacturer in the entire world...”
The same Powel Crosley who established “WLW” radio in Cincinnati and “increased the station’s broadcasting power to 500,000 watts, making it the most powerful station in the world...”
And the same Powel Crosley whose patriotism during World War II helped deliver American ideals to the rest of the world from a place that would be known forever as the “Voice of America.”
To counter “anti-American noise” from the likes of enemies “Tokyo Rose” and “Axis Sally,” President Franklin Roosevelt “decided to fight fire with fire” and transmit America’s message around the world. Roosevelt “contacted Powel Crosley Jr., who threw his American ingenuity and Cincinnati engineers at the task...
“They chose a 640-acre site in Butler County, in what is now known as West Chester, and built the Voice of America’s Bethany Relay Station. At that site, near WLW’s own tower, Crosley’s team designed an incredible array and built six 200-kilowatt transmitters.
“From here, over the next 50 years, Voice of America messages were broadcast to millions of people in 52 languages...”
“Adolf Hitler, the dictator of Germany and one of the United States’ main opponents in World War II, often referred to the Voice of America as those ‘Cincinnati liars,’ hoping to convince his diminishing supporters that Germany still could and would succeed in the conflict...”
But with time comes change. “… with the advent of satellite technology, the Voice of America towers became obsolete and were
decommissioned in 1995....”
Fortunately, the Bethany Station still stands — minus the towers — housing The National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting. It’s an elegant reminder of the vision of Powel Crosley Jr. and other patriots who imbued it with Sounds of America delivered around the world.
You’ll find the building in West Chester just off Tylersville Road -- on Crosley Boulevard, of course.
1.“Founders and Famous Families—Cincinnati" by Wendy Hart Beckman. Published by Clerisy Press, 2014. Available for checkout at MidPointe Library.
2. “Powell Crosley Jr.” from the Ohio History Central website : https://ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Powel_Crosley_Jr.
3.”The Voice of America” from the Ohio History Central website :
All photos are from Google Images. They include images of the current and former Bethany Station (now VOA Museum) without and with towers, two photos of Powel Crosley Jr. and one of President Franklin Roosevelt (far right).
To learn more about Powel Crosley Jr., go to :
www.midpointelibrary.org > Catalog Search > Powel Crosley
Check out a fascinating biography of Crosley and his brother, Lewis, titled “Crosley -- Two Brothers and a Business Empire That Transformed the Nation” by Rusty McClure, with David Stern and Michael A. Banks. It’s available for checkout at MidPointe Library.
You can also visit MidPointe’s vast eLibrary at : www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary
There you’ll find eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, eMusic, eMovies and TV Shows, and a wealth of Research Databases, as well as MidPointe Library’s own Digital Archives.
All it takes to access on-shelf and e-material is a free MidPointe Library card! Sign up for yours at any MidPointe location: Middletown, West Chester, Trenton, Monroe, Liberty Township (2nd floor, Liberty Center) and onboard our “Library On Wheels” bookmobile.
Fifty-five years ago today, September 18, the TV family changed forever.
That’s when the “creepy,” “kooky,” “mysterious” and “spooky” (albeit cultured) “Addams Family” first entertained us with an artful mix of adult humor, Old-World decorum, child-like fantasy and the macabre.
The captivating characters by cartoonist Charles Addams found in “New Yorker” magazine had come to life and debuted on the ABC television network. Their new comedy was called, simply, “The Addams Family.” (*)
Now listed among the “1001 TV Shows You Must Watch Before You Die,” the “sitcom combined the homespun family values of The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961) with the macabre charms of The Twilight Zone (1959).” (**)
“Amid sadomasochistic innuendos and morbid humor, it offered an inspirational vision of family unity and a marriage in which passion flourished despite the presence of two school-age children and often irksome relatives...” (**)
“But what made the Addams Family the cooler cousin of The Munsters (also 1964) was the opportunity it offered to revel in the ghoulish, the sinister and – in the case of matriarch Morticia – the downright seductive, without worrying about the consequences....” (**)
We still remember the main characters :
Gomez Addams : wealthy head of the household and smitten spouse of the alluring Morticia. Cheerful, generous and quick to light up a cigar.
Morticia Addams : Gomez’s beautiful, refined, enchanting spouse, doting mother, and gracious hostess to diverse family members living within the household (and to alarmed visitors who made the mistake of ringing their doorbell).
The rest of the family: Uncle Fester, Grandmama, daughter Wednesday, son Pugsley and short-in-stature-but-long-on-hair Cousin Itt.
Last, but not least were the monstrously tall, expressionless butler, Lurch, and a true “hand-y”-man if there ever was one, the ever-helpful “Thing.”
(*) “2019 Chase’s Calendar of Events” available for checkout at MidPointe Library.
(**) Profile of “The Addams Family” found in the book, “1001 TV Shows You Must Watch Before You Die.” Published in 2015 by Universe Publishing. General Editor: Paul Condon. Available for checkout at MidPointe Library.
Images : From Google Images.
To find more Addams Family material go to: www.midpointelibrary.org > Addams Family or
www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary > Movies and TV shows > Addams Family
MidPointe Library cardholders can also access Addams Family-related items from other libraries via SearchOhio and/or OhioLink. Go to :
www.midpointelibrary.org > Catalog Search > Addams Family > > SearchOhio (at top of page)
www.midpointelibrary.org > Catalog Search > Addams Family > OhioLink (at top of page)
#TriviaTuesday - What esteemed radio veteran, movie star, author and film producer “served as Voice of America’s first director just as World War II was entangling the Western World”?
Today’s trivia question refers to the local, historic communications powerhouse, the “Voice of America.”
With a proud history of serving “...eager ears starved for factual and fair reporting” since the early 1940s (1), the original Voice Of America broadcast building known as the “Bethany Relay Station” still stands proudly on its original site at Tylersville Road, West Chester (see above). According to MidPointe Library’s Digital Archives, “the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation of Cincinnati built the broadcasting operation.” Today the building houses the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting.
MidPointe Archives also point out that upon its opening in 1944 the Bethany Relay Station boasted twenty-four shortwave antennae and six 200,000-watt transmitters. Their powerful range reached western Europe, the Mediterranean, North Africa and South America. However, beginning in 1997 the antennae were torn down to make way for parks and commercial development.
Luckily for history, the Bethany Relay building remained, ultimately becoming a museum honoring VOA’s illustrious past.
In honor of VOA’s stellar history, we ask the following trivia question:
What esteemed radio veteran, movie star, author and film producer “served as Voice of America’s first director just as World War II was entangling the Western World”?
Answer: John Houseman served as the first VOA director from 1942-1943. (3)
“Houseman determined that VOA would tell listeners the truth, whether it was good for the U.S. or bad for the U.S...Houseman also introduced a style of radio reporting that employed multiple voices in individual broadcasts, a device he had learned through his theatrical background...” (3).
“Prior to Voice of America, Houseman gained national recognition through his role in the production the ‘The War of The Worlds’ radio broadcast in 1938 with Orson Welles. The story and sound effects were so realistic at the time that reportedly some listeners actually believed that an extraterrestrial attack was imminent.... (3)
“Houseman was also an accomplished actor, with his role as Professor Kingsfield in ‘The Paper Chase’ earning him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Houseman continued his involvement in acting and theater throughout the rest of his life.” (3)
The renowned actor died in 1988. (4)
Today the “Voice of America is the largest U.S. international broadcaster, providing news and information in more than 40 languages to an estimated weekly audience of more than 275 million people. VOA produces content for digital, television, and radio platforms. It is easily accessed via your mobile phone and on social media. It is also distributed by satellite, cable, FM and MW, and is carried on a network of approximately 2,200 affiliate stations.” (5) It is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
“…VOA is part of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), the government agency that oversees all non-military, U.S. international broadcasting. It is funded by the U.S. Congress.” (5)
This Saturday, September 21, the VOA will celebrate its 75th anniversary with a “Gala Celebration” at the museum on Tylersville Road.
For information about the Gala and the museum go to: http://www.voamuseum.org/events/
(1) From a brochure titled “VOA National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting – Tell the Truth and Let the World Decide.” Available in MidPointe Library’s Local History and Genealogy Gallery (Middletown location).
(2) From the “VOA - National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting” available at http://www.voamuseum.org/
(3) From “VOA Public Relations – Past VOA Directors – John Houseman (1942-1943)”: https://www.insidevoa.com/a/john-houseman-1942-1943/4485185.html
(4) From Wikipedia. “John Houseman”
(5) From “VOA Public Relations — Mission and Values” : https://www.insidevoa.com/p/5831.html
Photos of the current Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting and of John Houseman were found on Google Images.
The black-and-white photo of VOA antennae are from MidPointe Library’s Digital Archives : www.midpointelibrary.org > Digital Archives > Voice of America, c1980
Want to know more about the Voice of America?
Then look to MidPointe Library! At our Middletown location enjoy a large pictorial display about VOA on a 70-inch interactive touchscreen (See below). It’s located on the south wall of the building.
You can also access MidPointe’s Digital Archives at : www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary > Digital Archives > Voice of America
Happy Birthday today, September 16, to two members of the “League of Extraordinarily Funny Women...” (*) !
We’re talking about comic geniuses who breathed life into Saturday Night Live’s bespectacled schoolgirl “Mary Katherine Gallagher” and “Hillary Clinton” characters – Molly Shannon and Amy Poehler, respectively.
Shannon, a Shaker Heights, Ohio, native, turns 55 today. (**) Among her characters is the head-strong student-in-uniform, Mary Katherine Gallagher, who desperately craves attention while wreaking havoc in the process. At the end of her predictable debacles, Mary Katherine basks in the moment, claiming personal victory with arms held high, fingers pointing skyward and exclaiming “Superstar!” to bemused onlookers.
Poehler “not only gifted fans with unforgettable characters and impersonations, she also made history as the first woman to co-anchor the [SNL] Weekend Update news desk with another female cast member: Tina Fey....” (*) Poehler, born in Burlington, Massachusetts, is celebrating her 48th birthday today. (**)
(*) From the book, “The League Of Extraordinarily Funny Women – 50 Trailblazers of Comedy” by Sheila Moeschen. Published in 2019 by Running Press, Philadelphia. Available for checkout at MidPointe Library.
(**) From “2019 Chase’s Calendar of Events” published in 2018 by Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, Maryland. Available for checkout at MidPointe Library.
Looking for laughs? You’re at the right place – MidPointe Library! Find biographies and more about these two comediennes and “Saturday Night Live” in our collection at:
www.midpointelibrary.org > Amy Poehler (or Molly Shannon or Saturday Night Live)
You’ll find even more information about these two comediennes and “Saturday Night Live” on our vast eLibrary:
www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary
(for Movies and TV shows, Music, Magazines, Books, Audiobooks, Research Databases)
All it takes to check out an item is a free MidPointe Library card!
No card? No problem! Sign up for your free card today at any MidPointe location:
Middletown, West Chester, Trenton, Monroe, Liberty Township (2nd floor, Liberty Center) and onboard our colorful “Library On Wheels” bookmobile.
Go to your safe spot and enjoy theme songs from some of the scariest movies ever made!
For your spine-tingling pleasure, may we suggest the “Happy Friday 13th" collection performed by the Orlando Pops Orchestra? It’s available to MidPointe Library cardholders on “Hoopla,” our voluminous online music resource.
There you’ll find themes from horror movie classics like “The Exorcist,” “The Shining,” “Frankenstein,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and, of course, 13 others!
Use your free MidPointe Library card to access this haunting collection as well as hundreds of thousands of other free music albums, movies, TV shows, audiobooks, eBooks, comic books and more.
Proceed ever-so-carefully to : midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary > Music > Hoopla
After all, it is Friday the 13th...
No library card? No problem! Sign up for your free card at any MidPointe location:
Middletown, West Chester, Trenton, Monroe, Liberty Township (2nd floor, Liberty Center) and onboard our “Library On Wheels” bookmobile.
It was the talk of the town when it opened on this date – September 12 – in 1891.
One hundred twenty-eight years later, it still is.
Of course we refer to Downtown Middletown, Ohio’s revitalized gem, the Sorg Opera House, at 63 South Main Street.
From vaudeville acts and minstrel shows... to musical comedies and performances by locals...From the chanteuse to the rock ‘n roller...this grande dame of entertainment boasts a history that has welcomed the best and brightest in the entertainment universe.
For all that and more, you can credit one P.J. Sorg. The Middletown industrialist/philanthropist who attended public school and once labored in Cincinnati as an “iron molder apprentice” (*) possessed the foresight to establish this cultural masterpiece for all.
The first performance at the resplendent venue was the comic opera “The Little Tycoon.” (**)
In the September 12, 1891 “Daily Signal” newspaper (***) a writer named W.F. Foell heaped praise upon Sorg on the very day the opera house opened. It reads in part:
“It has often been a matter of conjecture in my mind whether the people in general appreciate the fact that our magnificent new opera house…has been built by our fellow townsman, P.J. Sorg, more for the welfare of the city than for personal benefit...
“...Mr. Sorg could have invested his money in other directions and made a good investment, but his interest in the welfare of our city is certainly evinced by his erection of such a grand structure, an incalculable benefit to this city, and a lasting monument to his name...
“In other cities far and wide, both by the people and the press, this noble act of his is the source of much commendation. The people of Middletown should not be oblivious to this deed...,” Foell wrote.
The Middletown newspaper, “The Daily Signal,” announced that on Tuesday, September 15, “Little Lord Fauntleroy” would be the “second attraction in Sorg’s magnificent new opera house...Every child in the city should be present … to witness the grand production....,” it proclaimed.
Many years later the opera house became the site of the Colonial Theater.
Today, thanks to the dedication of a revitalization team that not only respected its past but foresaw its stellar future, the Sorg Opera House once again beckons the finest in entertainment to grace its historical stage.
(*) Wikipedia. “Paul J. Sorg”
(**) MidPointe Library Digital Archives available at :
www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary > Digital Archives > Sorg Opera House
(***) From the “The Daily Signal” newspaper, Middletown, Ohio, Saturday Sept. 12, 1891.” Available for viewing on microfilm at MidPointe Library’s Middletown location, 125 South Broad Street.
While you’re perusing our Digital Archives, you’ll find photos of past performers and activities that took place at the Sorg Opera House (see below).
If you can identify any of the unnamed celebrities let us know who they are!
Eighteen years ago today, September 11, the United States endured attacks upon different sites on its mainland.
Note the word : endured.
Though shocked and wounded by the death and destruction now known as “9/11,” Americans have picked up the pieces of their broken hearts and struggled to regain a sense of normalcy in their lives.
When managing the horrific events of 9/11 or personal tragedy...For children who can’t grasp the enormity of a “9/11” or the death of a loved one...For those who struggle daily just to understand “Why?,” help abounds.
It takes the form of friends who listen, counselors who care, faith communities that comfort and appropriate literature that informs and helps heal.
That’s where public libraries like MidPointe enter the picture, offering free materials about death, loss, loneliness, fear, and other tragedies.
Books like “Finding Peace In Times of Tragedy...” for adults or “Is Daddy Coming Back In a Minute? -- Explaining (Sudden) Death in Words Very Young Children Can Understand” are available to cardholders.
For more information about MidPointe Library’s extensive catalog of helping literature – both on-shelf and online -- go to :
www.midpointelibrary.org > Catalog Search
Visit our substantial eLibrary at :
www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary
There you’ll find books, audiobooks, magazines and more.
A MidPointe Library card is all that’s required to check out on-shelf or e-items. Cards are free and can be obtained at any MidPointe location:
Middletown, West Chester, Trenton, Monroe, Liberty Township (2nd floor, Liberty Center) and onboard our “Library On Wheels” Bookmobile.
With a nod to Ken Burns’s upcoming PBS documentary “Country Music” and MidPointe Library’s free previews of the program, we ask:
What famous country-music ode to love lost was first recorded in Cincinnati?
Answer : According to the book, “The Cincinnati Sound,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” was recorded by country legend Hank Williams at the E.T. “Bucky” Herzog recording studio at 811 Race Street in 1949. (*)
Herzog once stated : “I tell people that I recorded Hank Williams right here in Cincinnati and they don’t believe me...Cincinnati had more going for it than Nashville back in the days before Nashville’s studio system developed.” (*)
At the time Williams told a colleague he had just “recorded the saddest song today I ever wrote in my life.” (**)
When asked if it was “sadder than ‘Wedding Bells,’” he responded : “Aw yeah, it’s a lot sadder’n that. It’s called ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,’ and I’m tellin’ you, it’s gonna tear people up when they hear it. If it don’t make you cry in your beer, nothin’ will...” (**)
If you love all-things-country, then stop by MidPointe Library to watch free previews of the highly anticipated PBS documentary, “Country Music – A Film by Ken Burns”!
The previews will be presented:
Wednesday, September 11, at 6:00 p.m. at MidPointe’s Middletown location, 125 South Broad Street and...
Wednesday, October 9, at 6:30 p.m. at MidPointe’s Trenton location, 200 Edgewood Drive.
The complete eight-part “Country Music” series will debut on local Public Broadcasting TV stations September 15-18 and 22-25. For information go to:
Got a hankering for Hank Williams music? Want to know more about his life? Go to:
www.midpointelibrary.org > Hank Williams
www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary (choose any of the following: eMusic, eMovies and TV Shows, eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, and/or Research Databases).
All it takes to borrow on-shelf material or e-items is a free MidPointe Library card!
Sign up for yours today at any MidPointe location: Middletown, West Chester, Trenton, Monroe, Liberty Township (2nd floor of Liberty Center) and onboard our colorful “Library On Wheels” Bookmobile.
Today’s blog sources:
(*) “The Cincinnati Sound” by Randy McNutt with a foreword by Jim LaBarbara. Published in 2007 by Arcadia Publishing. Available for checkout at MidPointe Library.
(**) “Elvis, Hank and Me – Making Musical History on the Louisiana Hayride” by Horace Logan with Bill Sloan. Foreword by Hank Williams Jr. Introduction by Johnny Cash. Published in 1998 by St. Martin’s Press. Available for checkout at MidPointe Library.
Then mark your calendar for Wednesday, September 11 and October 9. That’s when MidPointeLibrary will host the second and third in a series of free previews of KenBurns’s long-awaited PBS documentary, “Country Music.”
Preview #2 will begin this Wednesday at 6 p.m. at MidPointe Library’s Middletown location, 125 South Broad Street, said Martha Matthews, Adult Programming Coordinator.
Preview #3, the final preview, will take place at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 9, at MidPointe’s Trenton location, 200 Edgewood Drive.
Esteemed for quality and depth of research, Burns pays tribute to country music and its stars from the Carter Family to Loretta Lynn to Garth Brooks and many more.
Burns’s complete 8-part, 16-hour film will debut on local Public Broadcasting stations September 15-18 and 22-25. For more information go to:
Enjoy images of this area’s long love affair with country music! They can be found in MidPointe Library’s Digital Archives available at:
www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary > Digital Archives > Country Music (or) Appalachian Festival
MidPointe also offers a wealth of country music, books about itshistory and biographies of its starperformers. Go to:
www.midpointelibrary.org > Catalog Search > Country music
www.midpointelibray.org > eLibrary
(for music and TV shows, movies, books, audiobooks, magazines and more)
All it takes to borrow an item is a free MidPointe library card! Sign up for yours today at any convenient location:
Middletown, West Chester, Trenton, Monroe, Liberty Township (2nd floor, Liberty Center) and onboard our “Library On Wheels” Bookmobile.