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BBG Marks Passing of Kenneth Tomlinson

Former board chairman, VOA director dead at 69

The Broadcasting Board of Governors is mourning the loss of Kenneth Tomlinson, former director of the Voice of America as well as BBG board chairman.

Tomlinson died May 1. He was 69.

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan appointed Tomlinson director of the VOA, a position he held until 1994.

In 2002, President George W. Bush appointed Tomlinson to chair the BBG. He held the position until 2007. The BBG is an independent federal agency that oversees nonmilitary U.S. international broadcasting, including the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Radio and TV Marti, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.

BBG Chairman Jeff Shell says Tomlinson “was well regarded by many for having a keen sense of the news. He launched important projects in response to the information needs of audiences abroad.”

While chairing the BBG, Tomlinson oversaw the launch of the Arabic-language service Alhurra TV. He’s also credited with significantly expanding the agency’s radio and TV programming for Afghanistan, Iran and Cuba, according to the BBG.

Tomlinson began his media career as a reporter for The Richmond Times-Dispatchin 1965. In 1968, he moved to the Washington bureau of Reader’s Digest.

After his tenure at VOA, Tomlinson returned to Reader’s Digest as managing editor. He became executive editor in 1985 and editor-in-chief in 1989. He retired from the magazine in 1996. He is survived by his wife, Rebecca Moore Tomlinson, and two sons.

Tomlinson’s funeral is set for this Friday.