This is Mary Tillotson.
And this is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program EXPLORATIONS. Today, we celebrate the anniversary of the two-thousandth broadcast of this program.
Time changes everything, including the names of VOA radio programs. The program we know today as “Explorations” began as the Saturday feature. The first program of this series was broadcast thirty-nine years ago, June Eighth, Nineteen-Sixty-Three. It was called “Space, Food and Man.”
The announcer began the program by saying, “Space, Food and Man … a program in Special English by the Voice of America.”
That first program was part of a new series about the growing population of the world and the decreasing amount of living space on our planet. It also told about the amount of food people need to survive.
It seems that listeners liked that first program broadcast in the series. However, the VOA Special English staff did change the name a little. The took out the word “food” from the title and kept the name “Space and Man.”
The program continued under that name for many years even as it moved to a different broadcast day. It was heard on Wednesdays, Tuesday nights in Latin America. In April, Nineteen-Ninety-Six, the name “Space and Man” was changed to “Explorations.” The staff members of Special English believe the name “Explorations” really tells more about this program, which explores almost every subject.
“Space and Man” began broadcasting programs about exploring space. It also included programs about medicine, science, culture and other subjects. As the years passed we discovered that this was really a program about everything.
The name “Explorations” just seemed to fit the program because we try to explore many different subjects and ideas.
Now, we have a secret to share with you. The staff of Special English has not written two-thousand programs for “Explorations.” We really do not know how many we have written. Some of our programs have been repeated. A few of them many times.
A good example is a program about the sport of parachuting. It tells about what it feels like to jump out of a plane with a parachute. The facts do not change. And it is still an interesting program. We might repeat it every few years. Other programs are similar in this way to the parachuting program. They are worth broadcasting again.
Each time a program is going to be broadcast again the facts and information are examined to make sure everything is still correct. The program is given a new number. So… today we are celebrating the two-thousandth broadcast.
Some of the programs we repeat are about subjects that have become important in history. For example, some programs followed the progress of the first humans to leave Earth and travel into space. These programs included the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space flights.
Other programs about space flight are continually added. We have followed the development of the space shuttle. We have told about the beginnings of the International Space Station and its progress.
We have told about the launch of important satellites and space vehicles sent to explore the far reaches of our solar system. And we have taken our listeners along as humans attempt to explore the universe.
American Astronaut Neal Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the Moon. That event took place on July Twentieth, Nineteen-Sixty-Nine…thirty-three years ago. Many of us can remember that day.
Others were not yet born. One of the reasons we repeat some programs is to let younger listeners feel the excitement of hearing such moments as Neal Armstrong say the first words from the Moon. He said those words as his foot left the moon lander vehicle and touched the surface of the Moon for the first time. He said, “That’s one small step for man…one giant leap for mankind.” Listen closely as Mister Armstrong says those words in our program about the landing on the Moon.
((“THAT’S ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND.”))
One of the most popular subjects on “Explorations” has been the progress of the Hubble Space Telescope. The space telescope orbits six-hundred kilometers above the Earth working to provide new information about our universe.
Our programs followed the excitement leading up to the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope in Nineteen-Ninety. We also reported that mistakes had been made in Hubble’s glass telescope. One mistake affected the telescope’s mirror. It would not permit the telescope to produce clear pictures.
But the telescope was the first object in space designed so that astronauts could make repairs. So we have told about the three trips astronauts have made to the Hubble Space Telescope. Each time they have replaced older equipment with new modern equipment that permits the Hubble to do better work. We will report on the last of these trips to repair the space telescope. It is planned for July, Two-Thousand-Three.
This Special English program has closely followed the invention of the computer. Several members of our Special English staff remember when we had to learn to use computers to do our work. We quickly understood how important these new machines were and how very important they would become in the future.
In this program, we told how computers were invented and the progress being made in their development. We told how early computers were helping make business easier. Our stories examined ways that computers could be used to gain information.
Every few years we added new programs about computers. We told how people throughout the world were becoming connected with the use of computers. We told about the invention of the communications technology that became the Internet.
Today, if you have a computer and can link to the Internet, you can print copies of this program or most other Special English programs broadcast recently. You can make a copy of the Special English Word Book…the English words used to write Special English programs. And, you can often see pictures of some of the people or places we discuss on our radio programs.
News about developments in computer technology has been a very important part of this program. We know it will continue to be in the future.
The computer has helped us link with many of you who listen to “Explorations” and other Special English programs. Many listeners have become friends over the years.
A listener in China is a good example. Chun-Quan Meng works with a university’s computer center. He also collects science information for students who study at the center.
He has often e-mailed us asking questions about our programs. He has even suggested ideas for programs. One subject he suggested was about the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Each winter thousands of people around the world are killed or severely injured by carbon monoxide gas. Kerosene or gas heaters or stoves that do not work correctly usually cause these terrible accidents. Our friend in China thought it would be a good idea to explain this problem to our listeners. We did too!
Giving our listeners valuable information about a problem is the kind of program we think is important. We would like to thank Chun-Quan Meng again for a very good idea. Our program about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning is one that will be repeated.
What does the future hold for “Explorations”? Well, the name will not change again. We feel it describes the program very well.
What will “Explorations” programs be like in the future? That is a good question. We hope to continue with programs that tell you about interesting places, events, people or subjects. Future programs will continue to deal with new technology or ideas we think will interest you. We hope you will enjoy hearing two-thousand more broadcasts of “Explorations” during the next forty years.
This Special English program was written by Paul Thompson. It was produced by Caty Weaver. Our studio engineer was Efim Drucker. This is Steve Ember.
And this is Mary Tillotson. Join us again next week for another EXPLORATIONS program on the Voice of America.