Voice of Russia Opens U.S. Studios

It recently began airing on AM channels in New York and Washington markets
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It recently began airing on AM channels in New York and Washington markets

Truman and Khrushchev perhaps just rustled in their graves.

Voice of Russia, descendant of Radio Moscow, is now originating content for U.S. listeners from studios in Washington, a development that in the Cold War days might have been considered far-fetched.

“For the first time, the Russian radio station’s shows broadcast in the U.S. will be created on American soil, whereas before, they all came from Moscow,” the organization stated.

VoR is the successor to Radio Moscow and is funded by that country’s government. It came into being after the fall of the Soviet Union and is owned by All-Russia State Television and Radio Co., the state-run national broadcasting company.

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It claims 109 million listeners in 160 countries, with content in 38 languages carried on shortwave and medium-wave, in the FM band, via satellite and via a mobile network. The organization says a Swiss survey ranked it third in popularity after the BBC World Service and Voice of America. Its Internet offerings are in 33 languages.

The U.S.-originated content can be heard on AM stations in New York (1430) and Washington (1390), via distribution agreements. That would be WNSW (listen here), Multicultural Broadcasting’s outlet based in Newark, N.J., which has a long history of airing brokered ethnic programming; and Way Broadcasting station WZHF in Arlington, Va., which until recently aired Spanish contemporary content.

Voice of Russia Chairman Andrei Bystritsky spoke at a National Press Club roundtable on the nature of public diplomacy between Russia and America and was quoted in a Voice of Russia announcement.

“In essence, our U.S. project is precisely a step towards all of us having more shared knowledge and better mutual understanding.” In a time of such information abundance, he said, “Making sense of anything at all becomes practically impossible and it is exceptionally hard to tell the truth from lies.”

Shows will be broadcast from Washington six hours a day, during morning and evening prime time. Programs from Moscow will fill the rest of the airtime. The staff includes American and Russian journalists reporting on global events to American listeners. The organization said it plans to expand its program lineup, increase the number of hours on air and establish a country-wide network of correspondents.

Voice of Russia’s announcement quoted the director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies, Angela Stent, saying there is lack of knowledge in the United States about Russia. It also quoted the former head of Deutsche Welle radio in North America, Rudiger Lenz, saying Voice of Russia must be “absolutely truthful and try to be critical as well; that is what western people, that is what American people want to be addressed, that is what they wait for.”

According to its website, the Voice of Russia was the first radio station to broadcast internationally, on the air since Oct. 29, 1929.

— Paul McLane