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Home North Carolina Pitt County City of Greenville Historical Markers Voice Of America
     

Voice Of America

NC-43 at SR 1212, Greenville, NC, USA
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
 
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Cold War broadcasts relayed from Greenville to Europe, Africa, and Latin America, 1963-89, via station 2 mi. S.W."
     In 1942, the Foreign Information Service, precursor to the Voice of America (VOA), made its first broadcast from New York City to Europe: “Here speaks a voice from America,” intoned the announcer, who went on to explain (in German) that the United States would be bringing the world truthful news about the war. Within months twenty-three transmitters were in place and twenty-seven language services on the air. Hearings held by Sen. Joseph McCarthy in 1953 posed a temporary setback as charges arose that subversives were at work within VOA. That same year VOA became the largest component of the new United States Information Agency. Headquarters for VOA were established in Washington in 1954, setting the stage for rapid expansion. VOA technical facilities and programming saw vast improvements as America sought to thwart the propaganda of communist bloc countries which, in turn, sought to electronically jam the broadcasts. International radio became an instrument of American foreign policy.

     A key link in the network was built in eastern North Carolina. The facility consisted of three sites west, east, and southeast of Greenville. The sites were chosen to ensure the best “electronic propagation conditions.” The receiving station (named for Edward R. Murrow) was located four miles west of town. Programs originating from the Washington studios were beamed via microwave to Greenville and then were relayed to Latin America, Europe, and Africa. Transmitter sites were erected about eighteen miles away—“Site A” across the Beaufort County line and “Site B” near the Beaufort-Craven line. Each of the remote sites housed nine transmitters—three of 500,000 watts, three of 250,000 watts, and three of 50,000 watts. In all, the sites covered 6,193 acres and employed 100 people working around the clock. With its inauguration in 1963, the $23 million Greenville operation doubled the VOA’s power.

     VOA personnel ceased to use Site C in 1985. Decommissioned by the government in 1999, the relay station (“Site C”) property was sold in 2001 to East Carolina University. There today ECU’s West Research Campus houses its Physician Assistant Program and the North Carolina AgroMedicine Institute. The site hosts a facility developed by the Office of State Archaeology in cooperation with ECU’s Program in Maritime Studies. The lab serves as base for conservation work on artifacts recovered from the presumed wreck of the flagship of the pirate Blackbeard, Queen Anne’s Revenge.


References:
Voice of American website: http://www.voa.gov
East Carolina University website: http://www.ecu.edu/ncagromedicine
U.S. Information Agency, The Voice of America Doubles Its Power: The New Greenville Complex (1963)
“ECU Lab to Preserve Artifacts from Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge,” Stem to Stern, Vol. 18 (Jan. 2003)