VOA was organized in 1942 under the Office of Wartime Information with propaganda programs aimed at German-occupied Europe and North Africa. VOA began broadcasting on February 24, 1942. Transmitters used by VOA came from shortwave transmitters used by the Columbia Broadcasting System and National Broadcasting Company. Voice of America began to transmit radio broadcasts into the Soviet Union on February 17, 1947.
During the Cold War, VOA was placed under the U.S. Information Agency. VOA was involved in white propaganda broadcasts. In the 1980s, VOA also added a television service, as well as special regional programs to Cuba, Radio Marti and TV Marti.
VOA uses a number of transmitting sites throughout the world, including Greenville, North Carolina and Dixon, California in the United States; in the United Kingdom, Greece, Sao Tome, Kuwait, and Thailand among other sites.
VOA is currently under the International Broadcasting Board, which is part of the U.S. State Department. This has led to debates over the degree of independence of VOA's news programs from government policies.
Under United States law, the Voice of America is forbidden to broadcast directly to American citizens. Many Voice of America announcers, such as Willis Conover, became world-wide celebrities, though they were unknown in their home country. However, VOA programs on shortwave and the Internet are audible in the United States.
VOA broadcasts several programs aimed at specialist audiences:
The Voice of America is located at 330 Independence Avenue, Washington, D.C, 20547.
The interval signal is "Yankee Doodle," played by a brass band, followed by the announcement: "This is the Voice of America signing on."