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January 3, 2007
Voice of America calling Sacramento


Sacramento's only daily public-affairs radio program, "Insight" on KXJZ (90.9 FM), soon will be losing its senior producer and the show's behind-the-scenes prime mover.

Benjamin Jonas-Keeling (pictured, left) will leave Capital Public Radio at the end of the month and, on Feb. 5, become the staff director of the Persian radio and TV service offered by Voice of America in Washington, D.C. The service airs news reports, delivered in Persian, throughout Iran.

It was an offer, Jonas-Keeling says, that he could not pass up. He formerly worked at Voice of America - as well as other public radio and commercial stations - before coming to Sacramento in 2004 to help launch "Insight."

"It's a tremendous opportunity," Jonas-Keeling says. "It's an opportunity to bring uncensored and unbiased news to countries whose only outlets are tightly controlled state-run news."

It's a common misconception that Voice of America is a United States propaganda tool, Jonas-Keeling adds.

"It's actually written into the VOA charter that the service remains independent, accurate, objective and comprehensive," he says. "So the administration cannot interfere with the content. And, since 1942, I'm sure there have been some administrations that have tried."

VOA's service into Iran is not new, but Jonas-Keeling says that it has received major funding recently. Currently, TV broadcasts in Persian are only four hours a day, but that soon will double to eight. "Eventually, it'll be 24 hours," he says.

And what about "Insight"? Jonas-Keeling says the show, hosted by Jeffrey Callison, will do just fine without him. Assistant producer Jen Picard will be the interim senior producer until a permanent replacement can be hired.

"I'll miss Sacramento and 'Insight' very much," Jonas-Keeling says.

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