What to See

Open every Saturday and Sunday 1 – 4 PM
Volunteer docents are on hand for a guided
tour or you may self-guide

You can see:

  1. Voice of America Bethany Station Including why the station began through VOA's activities today
  2. Collins Radio 250 kW Broadcast Transmitter Walk inside this massive shortwave transmitter
  3. Powel Crosley Jr. Exhibit  See Crosley's many innovative products ahead of their time
  4. Radio Technology Exhibit  Learn how wireless began including technology evolution over time
  5. Gray History of Wireless Exhibits From early spark transmitters to the Golden age of Radio into a large Drake collection
  6. West Chester Amateur Radio Association Ham Shack A complete Ham station where you can see first-hand how shortwave radio works
  7. Media Heritage Exhibit  Early Tri-State Radio & TV including Ruth Lyons and Larry Smith's Puppets
  8. Radio STEM Lab How Radio works

 Voice of America Bethany Station

The question of why the Voice of America Bethany Relay Station was constructed on a hilltop outside of Cincinnati can be answered in two and one half words - Powel Crosley Jr.

When President Roosevelt began to plan for high power radio stations able to reach all parts of the world with information about the United States, he turned to Crosley and his corps of pioneering engineers to make it happen. Crosley had already constructed and operated WLW at 500,000 watts making it the most powerful in the world.  He also operated WLWO, a high-power shortwave station, beaming programming to Europe.

The engineering team was up to the task and built from scratch six 250,000-watt transmitters and 27 antenna arrays capable of reaching millions of listeners in Europe, North and South Africa and South America.

The level of technology innovation that took place in this building beginning in 1943 is as groundbreaking as any now being accomplished in Silicon Valley.

When you first arrive don't miss watching our award winning documentary video.  It summarizes the history and importance of the Voice of America and, more specifically, the Bethany Relay Station, home of the Museum. 

The six transmitters were connected to dozens of large antennas spread across a one square mile area.  Some of the concrete tower bases can still be seen in the adjacent Butler County Metro Park located at the rear of the Museum.  Many people remember seeing these towers as they drove on Interstate 75.

Learn about the real reason for the creation of Voice of America
 

1966 Control Room

Learn why Special English was created

Learn how Government Broadcast are managed

Learn about the need for this special ship

A complete history hallway with annotated pictures
and video for the US Coast Guard Cutter Currier

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Collins Radio 250 kW Broadcast Transmitter

The facility once boasted six of the most powerful radio transmitters on earth.
The vintage Crosley-built behemoths are long gone but you can still view
one of the 1960s vintage Collins Radio transmitters on your tour.
Take a walk inside the transmitter.
 

 

You can still see up close the Antenna Switching Matrix at the
rear of the museum building. These switches allowed the
various antenna arrays to target broadcast to specific areas
in Europe, North Africa and South America. Be sure to
walk out to see it up close when you visit.

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Powel Crosley, Jr. Exhibit

 Crosley was a prolific inventor and innovator and his interests went well beyond radio. He manufactured an extensive line of home appliances including the iconic Shelvador refrigerator and ranges, washing machines and even complete kitchen cabinet installations.

 One of the hallmarks of Crosley’s appliance product line was his keen sensitivity to the consumer both pre and post-Depression. He pioneered the establishment of a network of independent local dealers as the best way to take his products to market. He insisted that these dealers provide the consumer high quality parts, service, and satisfaction. His products were often less expensive than other name brands but were backed by Crosley's money back guarantee. This became a precedent for some of today’s sales practices.

 Powel Crosley Jr. Exhibit

Learn about a no electricity refrigerator

 See up close many of the innovative Crosley products

America's first Sports Car (Hot Shot)

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Radio Technology Exhibit

Learn how wireless began including technology evolution over time

Review the many Novelty radios

Learn why vacuum tubes contributed to the Golden Age of Radio

View many of the "Machine Age" Art Deco radio designs

 See up close how a Marconi spark transmitter is assembled

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Gray History of Wireless Exhibits

See displays of early spark transmitters to the Golden age of Radio including a large Drake collection.

The founder and namesake of the Gray Museum was
G. J. "Jack" Gray, W8JDV of Mason, Ohio.
Jack was born in 1900 in Middletown, Ohio,
on the banks of the Great Miami River.
He was only twelve when he first became interested
in wireless telegraphy.
It was the start of a life-long affair with all things wireless

 

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West Chester Amateur Radio Association Ham Shack

During your tour be sure to drop into the Ham Shack. Members of the
West Chester Amateur Radio Association are on hand to demonstrate
how shortwave radio works, much like the original broadcast
from VOA Bethany Station. 

With the assistance of a licensed operator you or your child can talk directly to ham 
radio operators in foreign countries. Experience the excitement when a 9-year old
talks directly to Italy.

WC8VOA features seven operating stations using the most modern equipment
and some classic vintage gear. All modes of operation include CW, SSB, AM,
Digital and EME (Earth-Moon-earth). Members who have free time to visit
during open house can learn the open house routine. All Hams are
welcome to join. 

The Club supports Jamboree-on-the-Air, the largest Scouting 
event in the world. It is held annually the third full weekend in 
October. JOTA uses amateur radio to link Scouts and hams 
around the world, around the nation, and in your own community.
 

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 Media Heritage Exhibit

 

See the collection of Larry Smith's Puppets

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Radio STEM Lab

From Greeks to Geeks

Made possible in part by a grant from the Charles H. Dater Foundation

 

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