Our Pioneers

We are fortunate to have had some truly extraordinary individuals who have helped make this Museum a reality.  Many were involved with the Bethany Relay Station from its inception in 1943. 

Jim Fearing - West Chester architect Jim Fearing was working on a park project featuring the Voice of America Bethany Station in 1995, when he discovered puzzling 1940s-era photos, telegrams, and press releases in a Bethany Station filing cabinet. Represented there were every U.S. president from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Bill Clinton and a largely-unknown piece of American history.

Fearing ignited community interest in Cincinnati’s role in the formation of the Voice of America’s broadcasting team and has been an enthusiastic and constant advocate for the National VOA Museum of Broadcasting since then.  His vision, creative eye and passion for historical study provide guiding beacons as we develop our plans for the Museum.

 

 

Jack Gray -  The founder and namesake of the Gray Museum was G. J. "Jack" Gray, W8JDV of Mason, Ohio.  Jack began collecting wireless memorabilia and equipment in 1930. After filling his basement he moved his growing collection to the garage. That was soon filled and had to be enlarged and then enlarged twice more as the collection grew. The collection is recognized as one of the outstanding collections of early wireless gear and memorabilia in the nation.  Jack passed away 1n 1970.

 

 

Clyde Haehnle - Clyde was a Co-op student at the University of Cincinnati at the time the Bethany Relay Station was under construction.  Eventually Clyde joined the Crosley Broadcasting Company.  A brilliant engineer, Clyde labored for months to develop the specifications for the antenna system at VOA that would beam the high-power signals to the targeted areas in Europe, North Africa and South America.  He replaced R.J. Rockwell, VP of Engineering for Crosley.  Rockwell was the the chief designer of the Bethany Station. Clyde serves on the Museum Board having completed his extraordinary career in broadcasting engineering and management.  

 

 

 

 

Mike Martini - Mike is the co-founder of Media Heritage, Inc. which “officially” came into existence in November of 2000 and is a key partner of the VOA Museum.  The roots of the organization can be traced back some twenty years earlier to discussions over a permanent archive of the rich Cincinnati broadcast history.  Mike is arguably the most knowledgeable local broadcast historian and preservationist.  He freely shares his passion by lecturing, program production and through broadcasts on WMKV, where he serves as a popular producer and announcer.

 

 

 

 

Charlie Stinger - Charles Stinger was born in Hamilton, OH on April 12, 1924.  Like all the other boys in his high school class that graduated in 1942, he joined the Army.  After many radio schools he served as a radio officer in the Army Air Corps.  After a short employment at the Mosler Safe Company, he started working for the Crosley Broadcasting Company in 1947, first, at WLW in Mason and shortly thereafter at the Voice of America.  He served at Transmitter Plant Supervisor for many years until his retirement in 1985.  He passed away in 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

David Snyder - Visitors to the Museum are very likely to meet David Snyder.  David was Manager of the Bethany Station when it closed in 1994 and as such is a walking encyclopedia of information about the facility.  His engineering knowledge, coupled with his story telling ability, enhances the visitor's experience.

 

 

 

Gary West -  Gary is a current member of the Museum’s Board of Directors and has been a leader in advancing the vision of building a first class Museum as the Bethany Station.  He has served on several committees and planning groups aimed at making sure the Voice of America story is preserved and shared.  An avid Ham Radio operator, he  eagerly shares his passion and knowledge with new members of the West Chester Amateur Radio Association.  He and his wife Dee Dee, also are staunch supporters of the area’s arts institutions.

 

 

 

 

 

Bill Zerkle - Bill was appointed parks director for West Chester Township in 1999 - the same year the VOA- Bethany Station was transferred to the local community.

A portion of the building was to be converted into a museum, so one of his first acts was to interview an early VOA-Bethany Station manager, the final station manager and an individual who had helped maintain the antennas for decades. The Voice of America story that emerged resulted in a powerful personal epiphany for Zerkle: he feels that VOA’s Bethany Station is as much a symbol of America’s commitment to freedom and democracy as the Alamo or the Liberty Bell. 

Zerkle nurtured the VOA Museum through its formative years during his six years as parks director and two subsequent years as National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting board chairman. Museum partners were recruited, a temporary museum opened, fundraising and promotional efforts began and the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting became a reality.

Zerkle remains a passionate ambassador for the Museum and the Voice of America story.