OVERSEAS SERVICE: BRINGING THE VOICE OF JUSTICE TO MILLIONS OF LISTENERS

Friday, November 07, 2014 - 9:23:11

(VOVworld) - After the end of the resistance war against French colonialists, Voice of Vietnam Radio (VOV) had 10 years (1955-1964) to make preparations for the war against US imperialists. VOV was trying to reinforce its broadcasts overseas at that time when half of the nation was liberated.

VOV leaders decided to establish the Overseas Service with its first headquarters at 20 Trang Tien street, which was then moved to Gami House just behind VOV’s main building at 58 Quan Su street, and finally to 45 Ba Trieu street, Hanoi.

In the new situation, the Overseas Service was tasked with introducing to the world socialist building in northern Vietnam and the just struggle to liberate southern Vietnam in order to call for international support.

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The Overseas Service at that time broadcast its programs in 12 languages: Lao, Thai, Khmer, Indonesian, Japanese, English, French, Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, Russian, and Korean. The editorial board tried hard to improve the quality of translations and presentations to international standards.

The leadership was reinforced, which included Director Le Quy, who participated in English and French programs, and Vice Director Cao Xuan Tung, who was involved in Lao, Thai, and Japanese programs. There were a number of excellent translators and anchors such as Madame Trinh Thi Ngo and Mr. Hang of the English section, Mr. Nguyen Van Thu (Thu whisker), Madame Pham Thi Chi, and Madame Van Chung of the French section, Madame Phan and Mr. Bich of the Mandarin section, Madame Quyen and Mr. An of the Cantonese section, Madame Hao of the Lao section, Madame Bach Van and Madame Tuyet of the Japanese section, Mr. Uu of the Korean section, Mr. Vuong Thi and Madame Quyet Tam of the Russian section, and Madame Le Hang of the Spanish section. In particular, Laos and Cambodia sent their experts to help VOV in translation and learn from VOV’s radio techniques to serve their countries’ radio development later. Many of those experts became ministers or deputy ministers after returning from Vietnam.

Many foreigners from different backgrounds helped to edit and read scripts on air and train VOV staff. 2 French editors from the French army: Captain Jean Tarago, after working at VOV for a short time, left for Berlin and then returned to France and died there and Georges Boudarel, a teacher in Sai Gon, who helped the French section at VOV and then returned to France. Georges Boudarel was a professor at the Sorbornne University in Paris. The English section used to have many New Zealand and Australian experts who helped with editing. Some Indonesian experts helped VOV in editing and presentation. The Japanese section was assisted by experts from the Communist Party of Japan and Denpa News. Nguyen Sau, a Thai expert had been helping VOV since the resistance war against the French. In addition, VOV was supported by a number of overseas Vietnamese from Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. The Spanish and Russian sections had the support of staff members from a number of embassies and experts from other sectors.

VOV’s infrastructure and radio stations developed rapidly. At the end of 1954 when VOV moved its headquarters from the Viet Bac resistance zone back to Hanoi, the transmission site since French colonial rule at Cong Vong (known as Bach Mai transmission station) was restored and received 3 transmitters brought from the resistance zone: one 1kw shortwave transmitter and two 1.8kw medium wave transmitters. China gave VOV two transmitters 7.5kw each, whose installation was completed by the end of 1955. From 1955 to 1956, the Soviet Union also provided VOV with two radio transmitters: one 150kw medium wave transmitter for domestic radio broadcasts and one 15kw shortwave transmitter for broadcasting to the southern region and overseas. These two transmitters were installed in Me Tri, 8km east of Hanoi. Medium waves were broadcast at a height of 297 meters and at the frequency of 1010 Khz. The Radio Technology Department chose this frequency because King Ly Thai To moved the capital to Thang Long in 1010 and Hanoi was liberated on October 10, 1954. In addition to Bach Mai, Me Tri became Vietnam’s major radio transmission station (inaugurated in early September, 1958). Construction of the Me Tri station was largely contributed by Nguyen Cung, technician Hoang Xuoc (from France), and Le Hong Giang (at VOV’s Financial Planning and Services Department).

Between 1964 and 1972, VOV broadcast 30 hours a day on 20 radio waves to serve both the domestic and overseas audience. VOV’s overseas services had reached Japan and many countries in Europe and Africa.

After 10 years (1955-1964) VOV and northern Vietnam entered the battle against the US air strikes. Because of their consecutive losses in the southern battlefield, US imperialists escalated the air war with air and naval forces in northern Vietnam. In early 1964, they did not attack Hanoi right away but targeted the central provinces near Parallel 17.

In early 1965, their targets were expanded to cover provinces near Hanoi such as Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Thanh Hoa, and Quang Ninh. In these circumstances, the Party Central Committee and the Government forecast that US forces would expand their war of destruction and bombard Hai Phong and Ha Noi. VOV was determined to maintain continuous radio signals under any circumstances. Thanks to this conclusion and with careful preparations with many plans, during the years of the resistance against US imperialists, particularly during the period when the US embargoed Vietnamese seaports and heavily bombarded Hanoi, VOV lost its medium wave signals at 297 meters for only 9 minutes at 4:51 on December 19, 1972 when the Me Tri station was hit by US carpet bombing. Other waves, including short waves for overseas broadcasting, were maintained. When the medium signal was lost, the back-up station at 45 Ba Trieu street immediately resumed transmission with a smaller transmitter after 9 minutes. But to meet the needs of domestic and overseas listeners, VOV needed a stronger station with more powerful transmitters. Such a station could not be installed in a populous city. Vietnam asked the Soviet Union for help in the construction of a major transmission station in Son Tay, 60km from Hanoi.  This station had 4 transmitters (2 of 500kw each and 2 of 100kw each) with a combined capacity of 1200kw. In the middle of 1980, this station was inaugurated under the name VN1, meaning it was Vietnam’s number 1 radio transmission station. 

The English section reserved one program targeting GIs (American soldiers) involved in the southern battlefield in Vietnam. US military sources and media reported that many American soldiers listened to the program because it touched their homesickness and showed them the brutality and irrationality of this war. The soldiers considered the news provided by VOV to be impartial and accurate.

Based on that program, in order to create an impact on Americans, particularly those who had their husbands and sons involved in the war in Vietnam, VOV decided to broadcast from Cuba targeting the US audience. The Cuban government and President Fidel Castro personally supported the initiative and asked the Havana Radio Station to make it happen. A group of English and Spanish editors from VOV went to Cuba to cooperate with their Cuban colleagues to produce daily radio programs to broadcast to the US.

This group was led by Mr. Nguyen Duy Phuc, then by Mr. Le Tien and his wife Van Anh. To publicize Cuba’s support for Vietnam, the Havana Radio Station made it clear that this was a VOV program targeting Americans broadcast on Havana Station’s airwaves. The program quickly attracted the attention of many American citizens. It received the most listener letters at the Station, thanks to which the station was visited and lauded by President Fidel Castro. Many American listeners sent money and equipment to support this program, which was broadcast from 1967 until southern Vietnam was liberated.

During the resistance war against the US imperialists, singing drowned the blasts of the bombs and VOV’s radio programs overwhelmed US bombardments to bring the voice of justice to millions of people around the world, including the US./.