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RSID: <<2023-07-27T23:31Z MFSK-32 @ 9265000+1500>>

Welcome to program 315 of Shortwave Radiogram.

I'm Kim Andrew Elliott in Arlington, Virginia USA.

Here is the lineup for today's program, in MFSK modes as noted:

  1:42 MFSK32: Program preview (now)
  2:49 MFSK32: VOA will move from its historic HQ*
  8:34 MFSK64: VOA will move from its HQ (continued)
13:14 MFSK64: This week's images*
27:35 MFSK32: Closing announcements

* with image(s)


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And visit

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I write a monthly column for the North American Shortwave
Association -- Usually these columns are available
only to NASWA members, but the August 2023 column is hereby also
provided to Shortwave Radiogram listeners who decode it ...

VOA will move out of its historic HQ

Kim Andrew Elliott

On July 13, the Washington Business Journal reported
( that the US Agency for Global Media issued
a request for lease proposals through the General Services
Administration for between 275,000 and 350,000 square feet of
"highly efficient space in a modern building capable of
supporting the operations of a modern media organization."

Employees of VOA and USAGM, now located at 330 Independence
Avenue SW in Washington, have known for several years that the
present headquarters will have to be moved so that the present
building can be gutted and refurbished and, with its Capitol
view, probably given over to an agency more prestigious than
USAGM. Now this plan is official, and it must happen by 2028.
The building now housing VOA was dedicated in 1939 and completed
in 1940. ( A nearly identical building,
across C Street SW, was completed at the same time. The two
buildings were part of "construction projects both as a way of
providing employment to the millions of Americans out of work due
to the Great Depression but also as a means of meeting the office
space needs of the rapidly expanding federal government."

VOA's present home was first named the Social Security
Administration Building. But any offices related to Social
Security did not move in at first. By 1940, the winds of war
brought the creation or expansion of offices under War Department
and the National Defense Commission, and some of these moved in
to the building. The same happened to the twin building across C
Street SW (later know as the Switzer Building and for a time
containing some VOA offices). That building was originally slated
for the Railroad Retirement Board. The Social Security offices
and records facilities, "temporarily" established in Baltimore
during the 1930s, have stayed in Baltimore to the present day.

Office of War Information was in the same building

The United States Government Manual 1945 lists the offices,
agencies and commissions related to the war effort, and where
they were located. ( Search on Fourth Street
and Independence Avenue SW for the offices located in what is now
VOA/USAGM building. One of them was the Office of War Information
(OWI), with Elmer Davis as its director. There is a photo of
Davis in his office, cigarette in hand, with the US Capitol
visible over his shoulder through his window. That office is
immediately recognizable to anyone who has worked in what is now
VOA's headquarters. (

Sending Pic:297x189;

Article continues after Shortwave Radiogram changes to MFSK64 ...


RSID: <<2023-07-27T23:38Z MFSK-64 @ 9265000+1500>>

This is Shortwave Radiogram in MFSK64

Please send your reception report to



VOA will move out of its historic HQ (continued)

I remember, in the 1990s, VOA's director of public affairs told
me of a visit by journalists from Japan (who might also have been
shortwave enthusiasts). They asked about possible VOA studios
that were located in 330 Independence Avenue SW during World War
II. He and I were not aware of any VOA operations in the building
at that time, but the Japanese visitors were on to something. The
wartime VOA was part of OWI, whose head office was located in the
building. And it's possible VOA had some production facilities in
the same building to facilitate reporting from Washington. In any
case, VOA's legacy in the building dates back to the early 1940s.

When VOA was created in 1942, most of its studios were located in
New York City. The language services were distributed among
buildings where space could be found, but prominent among them is
the Argonaut Building at 224 West 57th Street. (If you are in
Manhattan, stop by and pay respects.) The building included a GM
showroom before and after the war. Most of its office space is
now occupied by the Open Society Foundations, created by
philanthropist George Soros.

During the war, VOA language services for Asia were mostly
located in San Francisco (and may not have been identified as
"Voice of America") One exception was the Japanese service. VOA's
Japanese-American employees were not allowed on the west coast,
so those broadcasts came from studios in Denver.

VOA's 1954 move to Washington

In 1954, VOA's studios moved to Washington. According to a 1955
National Security council report "the move of Voice of America
facilities from New York to the Health, Education and Welfare
(HEW) building in Washington was completed, resulting in closer
integration policy-wise with other Agency programs."
( This is the building at 330 Independence
Avenue SW. Negative publicity generated by Senator Joseph
McCarthy's 1953 hearings about the alleged presence of Communists
at VOA probably also contributed to the decision to bring VOA out
of New York City and closer to official Washington supervision.

It would be interesting to know how VOA was able to acquire space
in the building occupied by HEW. Perhaps the OWI legacy helped.
Maybe also the urgency of international broadcasting as the Cold
War heated up was a factor. The politico-bureaucracy of the
coexistence of VOA and HEW in that building would be a
fascinating study, although most of the primary sources have
passed on.

Most of HEW moved, in 1977, to the new building next door east
(eventually to be named the Hubert H. Humphrey Building), thereby
relieving some space issues. (There is a tunnel between 330
Independence Avenue SW and the HHH building, which facilitated
VOA employees going over to eat lunch at that building's better
cafeteria.) In 1979, HEW became Health and Human Services, and
the Department of Education was created, moving in to a building
just west on C Street SW (in 2007 named the Lyndon Baines Johnson
building). It was also a popular lunch spot for VOA employees,
superior to the indifferent fare in the basement of 330
Independence Avenue SW.

By the time I started working at VOA in 1985, most of 330
Independence Avenue SW was occupied by VOA, but parts of Health
and Human Services were also there: HHS had all of the fifth
floor (including the lovely high-ceilinged Snow Room, to which
VOA rarely had access for management meetings and lunches), part
of the fourth floor (including the HHS law library), and enclaves
on the first floor and the basement (including their mail and
shipping facility).

VOA survives the 2011 earthquake

Also, when I came to VOA in 1985, the amazing murals created by
artist Ben Shahn, telling the story of Social Security, part of a
project to employ American artists during the Depression, were
there in the wide corridor leading to the Independence Avenue SW
entrance. But they were usually behind curtains, to protect the
fading paintings from light exposure. The murals were restored by
artists in 1993, allowing the curtains to be pulled back so that
tourists could see them. Damage occurred again during the 2011
earthquake, with artists again doing the restorations.

On the subject of that 2011 earthquake, I was standing at the
doorway of a colleague's office when it happened on August 23.
(Coincidentally, under a doorway is one of the best places to be
when an earthquake occurs, but in that instance it wasn't
necessary.) It seemed like a storm was driving against my
colleague's window, but within seconds we realized it was an
earthquake. I was not overly concerned, because the VOA building,
with its thick concrete pillars, is built like a tank. Electric
power and landline telephones were not interrupted. Damage was
mostly cosmetic and limited to cracks in the plaster, especially
visible in the stairwells.

Interestingly, by the 1980s, the building at 330 Independence
Avenue SW still had no name, forty-plus years after its
construction. Of course, VOA's people wanted it to be named for
the Voice of America. But Otis Bowen, former Republican governor
of Indiana, and then Secretary of Health and Human Services, used
his clout in the George H.W. Bush Administration to have the
building named, in 1988, after Wilbur J. Cohen. Cohen was the
Social Security Board's first professional employee and later was
Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare during the final
months of Lyndon Johnson's administration. It was a remarkable
move by a Republican politician to bring about the naming of the
building after an official associated with public welfare,
including Medicare and Medicaid. But maybe this was more a result
of HHS-versus-VOA than conservative-versus-liberal gamesmanship.

More about VOA's move in future columns.


This is Shortwave Radiogram in MFSK64

Please send your reception report to


This week's images ...

The atmospheric optical phenomenon known as STEVE ("Strong
Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement") over southwestern
Manitoba, July 25. ...

Sending Pic:154x204C;

A flame lily (or fire lily) at the arboretum of the Uttarakhand
Forest Research Institute in India.

Sending Pic:126x254C;

A firefighting helicopter silhouetted in front of the sun near a
wildfire in Mandra, Greece, July 18.

Sending Pic:148x200C;

The Esquadrilha da Fumaca (Smoke Squadron) during a ceremony to
commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Alberto Santos-Dumont,
considered the patron of the Brazilian Air Force, Brasilia,
Brazil July 20. ...

Sending Pic:204x137C;

The silhouette of a yacht anchored in Ronachan Bay, Clachan, as
the sun set behind the Isle of Jura, Scotland. ...

Sending Pic:146x201C;

A sunrise shot a of bull moose at Coleman State Park in
Stewartstown, New Hampshire. ...

Sending Pic:140x199C;

The sun sets over the Tchefuncte River at Fairview Riverside
State Park, Louisiana. ...

Sending Pic:144x203C;

Our painting of the week is a detail of one of the Ben Shahn
murals at the Voice of America headquarters building. ...

Sending Pic:115x223C;

Shortwave Radiogram returns to MFSK32 ...

RSID: <<2023-07-27T23:58Z MFSK-32 @ 9265000+1500>>



This is Shortwave Radiogram in MFSK32 ...


Shortwave Radiogram is transmitted by:

WRMI, Radio Miami International,


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Please send reception reports to

And visit

Twitter: @SWRadiogram or

I'm Kim Elliott. Please join us for the next Shortwave


     SWRG#315 closing song:






 D-06193 Petersberg (Germany/Germania)


 Dipol for 40m-Band    &   Boomerang Antenna 11m-Band

 RX   for  RF:

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<<2023-07-29T09:48Z MFSK-64 @ 9900000+1500>>


   --- RNEI #43 ---

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