Voice of America Bethany Relay Station

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Voice of America Bethany Relay Station
National VOA Museum of Broadcasting.jpg
VOA Bethany Relay Station
Voice of America Bethany Relay Station is located in Ohio
Voice of America Bethany Relay Station
Location West Chester, Ohio
Coordinates 39°21′18″N 84°21′24″W / 39.35500°N 84.35667°W / 39.35500; -84.35667Coordinates: 39°21′18″N 84°21′24″W / 39.35500°N 84.35667°W / 39.35500; -84.35667
Built 1944
Architectural style Art Deco
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 06001081 [1]
Added to NRHP November 28, 2006
The National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting is the main building and campus of the original VOA, Bethany Relay Station.

The Voice of America's Bethany Relay Station was located in Butler County, Ohio's Union Township about 25 miles (40 km) north of Cincinnati, adjacent to the transmitter site of WLW. Starting in 1944 during World War II it transmitted American radio programming abroad on shortwave frequencies, using 200,000-watt transmitters built by Crosley engineers under the direction of R.J. Langley. The site was developed to provide 'fallback' transmission facilities inland and away from the East Coast, where transmitters were located in Massachusetts, on Long Island in New York, and in New Jersey, all close to the ocean, subject to attack from German submarines or other invading forces.

Programming originated from studios in New York until 1954, when VOA headquarters moved to Washington.

The station operated until 1994. The facility took its name from the Liberty Township community of Bethany, which was about two miles north of the facility.

In 1943, the United States government bought nearly all of Section 12 of Township 3, Range 2 of the Symmes Purchase, the northeasternmost section of Union Township. From Hazel Beckley, 170 acres (688,000 m²) were purchased; from Philip Condon, 143 acres (579,000 m²); from Lola Gray Coy, 100 acres (405,000 m²); from John Miller, 69 acres (279,000 m²); and from Suzie Steinman, 142 acres (575,000 m²). The site was chosen for its elevation and its shallow bedrock and is today bounded by Tylersville Road on the south, Cox Road to the west, Hamilton-Mason Road to the north, and Butler-Warren County Line Road.

The transmitters were built by Powel Crosley Jr.'s Crosley Broadcasting Corporation about one mile west of the company's tower for WLW-AM in Mason. The Office of War Information began broadcasting in July 1944 and Adolf Hitler is said to have denounced the "Cincinnati liars". Following the war with the OWI abolished, the facility was taken over by the State Department in 1945. It became part of the newly created United States Information Agency in 1953. The Crosley Broadcasting Corporation operated the facility for the government until November 1963, when the Voice of America assumed direct control.

At its peak the facility had three transmitters broadcasting with 250 kW, three broadcasting with 175 kW, and two transmitting with 50 kW.

The facility was closed on November 14, 1994; because of changing technologies, the transmissions shifted to satellites. The towers were brought down from December 1997 to February 1998. Most of the land was turned over to the county and township for use as a park. Part in the southwest corner was sold to developers who have erected a shopping center called the Voice of America Centre. The Miami University Voice of America Learning Center opened on the site in January 2009.

Today that building is being transformed into an historical center that will not only explain the importance of what happened there in the past, but how technology, honesty and the creative spirit, the guiding principles of The Voice of America, are still relevant today in spreading truth and providing encouragement globally to those seeking information without political bias . The VOA mantra, “Tell the truth and let the world decide” transcends the shortwave broadcasts of the 1940s and 50s and continues to ring true in the digital era of iPads, iPhones and all things digital. The National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting will transform the former Bethany Station, a 30,000 sq. ft. building originally designed as one of the world’s most powerful radio transmission facilities into an educational resource for the region and the nation. Using a blueprint developed by the acclaimed Jack Rouse and Associates, the facility will use state of the art displays and interactive experiences to relate the story of the Voice of America. Incorporating other related collections from Media Heritage and the Gray History of Wireless Museum, the new facility will have content of interest to a wide demographic segment and age groups.

The development will be phased over several years as support is generated and construction and program design work is completed. Phase One calls for the construction of a convocation center at the museum designed as a place to host meetings, lectures, and traveling displays. The 2400 sq. ft. multi-purpose room will have a new ADA compliant entrance and modifications will be made to the building allowing access to the exhibit and meeting areas barrier-free. Two modern rest rooms will also be added.

Phase Two will modify the main transmitter room which once housed the six high power short wave transmitters. This area will be the main exhibition concourse. The space will be restored to the ambience of the 1940s, complete with the original second level observation platform located off the main lobby. The main exhibit space will feature and 8,000 + open area and another 5,000 sq. ft. of smaller display rooms. Archival and support offices will occupy the second floor of the main building. There will still be some 3000 sq. ft. of undeveloped space. Funding is currently being sought for Phase One of the plan.


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Jim Blount. The 1900's: 100 Years In the History of Butler County, Ohio. Hamilton, Ohio: Past Present Press, 2000.
  • Virginia I. Shewalter. A History of Union Township, Butler County, Ohio. [West Chester, Ohio?]: The Author, 1979.
  • Stern, David & Banks, Michael, CROSLEY: Two Brothers and a Business Empire that Transformed the Nation Cincinnati, Ohio: Clerisy Press, 2006.

External links[edit]