After two years of being shutdown to the public, the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting in West Chester will open its doors for guided tours this Saturday from noon to 3 p.m.
The Board of Directors for the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting, however, did decide to open the museum for several tours before it closes again this winter in order to complete the installation of a new roof and block maintenance on the rear of the building.
Depending on Saturday’s turnout, the board will decide how many tours will be available before construction forces the museum to close.
That being said, the museum is hardly a finished product. The inside is constantly changing and exhibits are improving by the day.
What the museum currently does have is an abundance of information about the history of radio, television, World War II and the city of Cincinnati.
One of Saturday’s tour guides, Clyde Haehnle, who is also on the board of directors, was a project engineer at the Voice of America Bethany Relay Station and was involved with the project when it was built in 1944 under the direction of Powell Crosley Jr.
“I think our objective is to let people know what happened here during the war and what an important role we played in World War II,” said Haehnle (photo). “We want to be able to preserve this as memorabilia of history and show what broadcasting has done in this country.”
According to Haehnle on Dec. 7, 1941, the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Germany had 68 and Japan had 42 shortwave transmitters dedicated to share anti-American propaganda throughout the world. Meanwhile, the U.S. had only 13 shortwave transmitters.
The Voice of America Bethany Relay Station would be used to deliver U.S. news in a total of 52 different languages throughout the world from 1944 to 1994.
On Saturday, not only will visitors be able to see equipment from the old relay station, they will also able to see one of the country’s largest collections of antique radio equipment in the Gray History of Wireless Museum. Radios made by Crosley Broadcasting and an original Cincinnati Police transmitter built in 1927 are featured in the exhibit.
On the other wing of the museum are exhibits from Media Heritage, which was founded by Mike Martini. Media Heritage features pictures, equipment and other memorabilia that shares Cincinnati’s influence on television and radio.
Some of the live television personalities from Cincinnati featured in Media Heritage’s exhibits include Uncle Al and Captain Wendy, Larry Smith and his puppets, Ruth Lyons, Paul Dixon and others.
“At one time every thing was local if you go back far enough, so we had very creative people pass through town – people, who had influenced the entire country … other stations around the country copied us. We were the first to have color and had more original content at one time than New York City. Cincinnati was immensely important in the history of broadcasting and we want to share that.”
For Saturday’s tours, donations of $5 for adults and $1 for children under 12 are suggested.
For more information about the VOA museum, go to www.voamuseum.org.
The museum is located at 8070 Tylersville Road in West Chester.