By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector
Monday, April 30, 2012
A Voice of America site once scheduled for closure has not only been saved but will be rededicated Wednesday in a ceremony featuring the son of broadcasting pioneer Edward R. Murrow.
Voice of America Site B, located 15 miles east of Greenville outside of Grimesland, was named for the legendary broadcaster when it opened in 1963.
Murrow's name was removed from the building as part of security measures taken after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Murrow's name will be returned during a 10 a.m. ceremony being held at the site, 3919 VOA Site B Road.
The event is open to the public, and tours of the facility will be available after the ceremony.
The event will feature Murrow's son, Casey; Richard M. Lobo, director of the International Broadcasting Bureau, which oversees Voice of America; Victor Ashe, member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors; and U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr., R-N.C. It's being held in advance of World Press Freedom Day on Friday.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors announced in February 2010 it wanted to close VOA Site B so it could save about $3.1 million annually and focus on upgrading its satellite, digital and other broadcasting technologies.
The site B location broadcasts via short-wave radio to Cuba, the Caribbean and South America. In the past it also has broadcast to West Africa.
Jones and U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., worked to stop the closure, aided by another member of the North Carolina delegation, Democrat David Price.
The closure never came because Congress had difficulties finalizing its 2010-11 budget and funding was included in continuation budgets.
The broadcasting board notified Jones in January 2011 that the administration wouldn't pursue the site's closure.
By that time Victor Ashe, former mayor of Knoxville, Tenn., and former ambassador to Poland, joined the broadcasting board and toured the VOA Site B facility.
Ashe said he was impressed by the facility's staff members and their dedication to the organization's mission.
"We believe free and honest information is a prelude and a foundation of a democratic society," Ashe said.
Like other proponents of the site, Ashe said it's important to keep VOA Site B operating because it's the only short-wave Voice of America facility operating under U.S. jurisdiction. Other short-wave locations can be shut down at the insistence of its host nation.
Other methods of broadcasting — radio, television, the Internet and social media — can be cut off or blocked.