#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).