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Remembering VOA legend Clyde Haehnle
West Chester remembers Clyde Haehnle, a broadcasting pioneer and American hero, who passed away Sunday, April 8 at age 95.
Haehnle was a legendary figure in Cincinnati and West Chester Township for his groundbreaking work to develop the technology of the Voice of America Bethany Relay Station in the early 1940s. The station broadcast news across the world from here in Butler County, Ohio until it was decommissioned in the early 1990s.
As a University of Cincinnati co-op student working with Crosley Broadcasting, Haehnle calculated and mapped the Bethany Relay Station rhombic antenna system that would allow the VOA broadcasts to travel around the globe. He achieved this without a computer, but with a simple slide rule.
Following Haehnle’s long and illustrious career in radio and television, he went on to help with the preservation and restoration the historic Bethany Relay Station where he worked for so many years. The facility, 8070 Tylersville Road, is now home to the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting.
“There is no doubt that Clyde is the single most important visionary and supporter of the Museum,” said Jack Dominic, museum director. “He gave freely of his talents and treasure to establish a world-class institution that would celebrate the power for good that radio had and can have on the lives of listeners world-wide.”
On May 13, 2016, the VOA Museum dedicated one of its conference rooms “Clyde Haehnle Hall.” It was in this room, more than 70 years prior that Clyde and his colleagues assembled, repaired and installed transmitters.
“I spent a lot of my life out here at this place,” Haehnle said during a 2016 interview at the dedication ceremony in his honor. He served at the Bethany Relay Station for almost two decades through the end of World War II and into the early years of the Cold War, up to and through the Berlin Crisis of 1961.
“In his later years his gait slowed but his mind remained quick. A conversation with Clyde was fun, educational and more what you would expect for a twenty-something rather than a man in his mid-90s,” Dominic remembered.
The VOA Museum that Haehnle helped launch is now open to visitors every Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. He said he hoped it would serve as a reminder of the importance of telling the truth.
“I think the thing that was important about the Voice of America is to tell the truth, don’t use propaganda or negative broadcasting,” Haehnle said in his 2016 interview. “If you start off telling the truth even though it’s bad, they’ll eventually believe you when it turns good.”
Read more about Clyde Haehnle and his legacy at www.voamuseum.org/about/news/clyde-haehnle/.