What do you do when you have a dazzling, $10 million-$12 million concept to turn the Voice of America Bethany Relay Station into a national museum and no money?
You hire a public television exec with connections to help drum up donations.
That’s the priority for the board of the National VOA Museum of Broadcasting when Jack Dominic joins the organization March 1 as its first director. Dominic retires Feb. 28 from WCET-TV as its executive vice president and station manager.
“He’s quite a gentleman. He’s got a long, long history of activities in the Cincinnati area. He certainly knows people,” said Ken Rieser, museum board chairman. “That’s very important.”
Dominic’s hiring comes about a year after West Chester Township trustees approved a five-year lease for the landmark that will allow the board to raise funds as a nonprofit corporation. Trustees previously agreed to contribute up to $335,000 over five years to help fund the museum until it could generate enough money to sustain the operation.
The 35,000-square-foot art deco building off Tylersville Road once was surrounded by a field of antennae that for more than 50 years transmitted Voice of America programming overseas. Initially it was used to combat anti-American propaganda during World War II.
The building now houses the museum, which includes collections and exhibits from the VOA Bethany Station, Media Heritage’s Greater Cincinnati Museum of Broadcast History, the Gray History of Wireless Museum and the West Chester Amateur Radio Association’s control room.
The museum is open for tours from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month.
The multimillion-dollar master plan developed about three years ago includes those spaces along with a restored circa-1940 lobby, a grand concourse where multimedia presentations would play, a gallery that would focus on the role Bethany Station played in World War II, a restored control room, theater and event space with exhibits.
Even before he launches a fundraising campaign, Dominic said it’s important to make people realize how important Greater Cincinnati was to the Voice of America effort, including advancing the technology that allowed radio transmissions that could reach across the world.
“My vision is very much to spotlight not only what has happened with Voice of America over the years, but how clear and truthful information is absolutely imperative for us to continue,” Dominic said.
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