Voice of America (VOA), today the largest U.S. government-funded international broadcaster, ceased its Czech language broadcasts exactly 15 years ago today, on 27 February 2004, shortly ahead of the country’s accession to the European Union. The move followed budget cuts by the U.S. Congress and, the Cold War long over, a shift to “new audiences and new priorities”. We look back at the station’s local legacy.
The name Jolyon Naegele is familiar to many who lived through the final years of communism in Czechoslovakia and other countries in the then Soviet Bloc. At that time Naegele was a roving Eastern European correspondent for the U.S. radio station Voice of America. In a special interview, he discusses his first impressions of Czechoslovakia in 1978, his experiences with the StB, meeting Václav Havel, the Velvet Revolution, and developments since then.
Ivan Medek, who was an aide and later chancellor to President Havel, has died at the age of 84. Mr Medek was a musicologist by profession but later worked as a journalist. After signing Charter 77 he was harassed by the communist authorities until he left in 1978 for Vienna, from where he broadcast for Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and other radio stations. Mr Medek’s widow Helena issued a statement on Wednesday saying he had died of “illness and old age”. Mr Havel said he had had great respect for his late associate, describing him as a rare and dependable person.