President Ho Chi Minh and Voice of Vietnam Radio
Friday, October 31, 2014 - 16:54:16
(VOVworld) – Radio broadcasters always remember Uncle Ho’s teaching: how to write and speak to make it easy for the listeners to understand and follow.
President Ho Chi Minh is a great leader, a hero of national liberation, and a world cultural activist. He was also a great journalist and the founder of the Vietnamese revolutionary press.
President Ho Chi Minh and VOV artists
Throughout his revolutionary career, President Ho Chi Minh always acknowledged the important role, task, and influence of the press. For him, the press was not only a mean of communications about the revolutionary cause but also a forum of the public where they could share their concerns, feelings, and aspirations. It’s necessary to understand people in order to be able to mobilize their strength for the revolution. The press is a means to rally their unlimited power. Living in Europe for many years and in the initial phase of radio development, he fully understood the power of radio.
During the fierce days of the August Revolution in 1945, President Ho Chi Minh directed the Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of the Communications, and Xuan Thuy, a senior revolutionary cadre of the Interim Revolutionary Committee of the Northern region, to urgently establish a National Radio Station.
The President’s directive mentioned two important aspects of a radio station. In terms of home affairs, radio was the fastest means of mass media to disseminate guidelines and government policies and reflect domestic and international events. It was a bridge between the central and local regions and the administration and people. In terms of external affairs, radio frequencies can cross national boundaries without a visa to break the imperialist’s intention to conceal information about the situation in Vietnam, respond to their distorted information, and gain international support for Vietnam’s revolution.
Voice of Vietnam Radio’s first broadcast was at 11:30 am, September 7, 1945. The a 90-minute program consisted of domestic and international news, music, and more importantly – the full Declaration of Independence read by President Ho Chi Minh at Ba Dinh square in the afternoon of September 2, 1945.
“That 90-minute historic event is forever imprinted on the mind of the Vietnamese people” (Pham Van Dong – Preface: Half a century of the VOV – National Politics Publishing House 1995).
The early days of VOV were at a time when the fate of the nation and the revolutionary administration was hung by a thread. While dealing with huge internal and external affairs, Uncle Ho still made time for VOV. He wrote: “The National Radio Station was established during the revolution, but from scratch, with little infrastructure or journalistic skills. The staff lacked experience and political will.” President Ho kept a close watch on radio content. He deeply understood that the national radio channel was a forum and a venue for the leaders and people. When there were important national events, he went to VOV to talk on air with the people and soldiers.
The President visited VOV 6 times, each with a new task and new recommendations.
His first advice was that Radio communication must follow principles and the unswerving target of protecting national independence and unity. It was important to practice restraint and apply a flexible attitude, he said. He stressed the importance of being invariable to cope with all challenges.
After the successful 9-year resistance war against the French, returning to the capital city, President Ho Chi Minh asked VOV’s staff to be vigilant to avoid eating the “sugar-coated candy” of hostile forces. He said “the country is poor and we must be self-supported and work as children of a poor family, and should not ask too much from the State”.
Uncle Ho talked about improving the radio profession: “You have to remember that you are radio broadcasters, not newspaper reporters. Radio or newspaper reporters have to answer the same questions: who do you write for? What is the purpose of your article? What and how do you write? Radio broadcasters have to focus on writing and speaking to make the listeners correctly understand the message, remember, and follow suit.”
When the Cooperative statement was made public, Uncle Ho asked VOV to rewrite it into verses to make it easier for the farmers to understand.
In the last days of his life when he was bedridden, he still listened to artist Tran Thi Tuyet and Cheo artist Nhu Hoa recite these verses. He appreciated and rewarded the author of the song and the artists. He deemed that the National Radio Station was of the people and for the people.
During the fiercest days of the two national resistance wars against the French colonialists and American imperialists from 1947 to 1968, Vietnamese soldiers and people inside and outside the nation always waited to listen to Uncle Ho’s poems on the radio on New Year’s Eve. His first New Year poem was broadcast on the Dinh Hoi New Lunar Year in 1947 when he visited VOV station which was evacuated to Tram pagoda, Chuong My, about 30 km from Hanoi. His poem was broadcast for the people and soldiers nationwide:
Cờ đỏ sao vàng tung bay trước gió
The red flag with a yellow star flew in the wind
Tiếng kèn kháng chiến vang dậy non song
The fanfare for resistance resounded nationwide
Toàn dân kháng chiến, toàn diện kháng chiến
The entire nation has joined the fight, and the fight has been comprehensive
Chí ta đã quyết, lòng ta đã đồng
Our spirit is ready, our minds unanimous
Tiến lên chiến sĩ! Tiến lên đồng bào
Forward, soldiers! Forward, people!
Sức ta đã mạnh người ta đã đông
Our strength is ample, our forces many
Trường kỳ kháng chiến nhất định thắng lợi
The long-term fight is sure to achieve victory
Thống nhất độc lập nhất định thành công
Unity and independence are sure to be achieved.”
(Poem translated by Viet Trung/ saigon-gpdaily.com.vn)
Uncle Ho’s New Year poem broadcast on the Mau Than New Lunar Year in 1968 was a secret order for a general uprising in the southern region.
Xuân này hơn hẳn mấy xuân qua
This spring is more exciting than others
Thắng lợi tin vui khắp nước nhà
News of victory from the whole country
Nam Bắc thi đua đánh giặc Mỹ
The South and the North compete to fight against America
Tiến lên toàn thắng ắt về ta
Forward! The victory will surely fall into our hands
(translated by Ngoc Minh/ saigon-gpdaily.com.vn)
Listening to Uncle Ho’s New Year poems became a cultural custom of the Vietnamese people.
Voice of Vietnam Radio informed the public in sadness that Uncle Ho was seriously ill. He passed away in the autumn of 1969. The whole nation wept for him, and the heavens rained for him. He left behind a huge love among the people including VOV’s staff.