The adventure began in 1961, when Leo Sarkisian and his wife Mary were living in West Africa. They traveled across the region documenting traditional and pop music for Tempo Records. But one day, Edward Murrow came to Guinea and asked if Leo would be willing to join the Voice of America. 

Leo Sarkisian signed up and in 1965 created Music Time in Africa, which has continued for more than 50 years. Christopher DeCou follows Leo’s story to examine how entertainment can be caught up in political conflicts and asks the question, what makes propaganda?

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Historian Biographies

Christopher DeCou is a second year PhD student. He typically works on histories of science, technology, and East Asia. 

Production Credits

Episode Producer: Christopher DeCou

Voice Actors: Talitha Pam, Teyei Pam, and Taylor Sims

Host and Season Producer: Allie Goodman

Executive Producer: Gregory Parker

Editorial Board: Alexander Clayton, Henry Cowles, Christopher DeCou, Allie Goodman, Gregory Parker, Hannah Roussel

Special thanks to season two producer Hayley Bowman and season two editorial board members for their work on this episode.

Image: Leo Sarkisian, Leo Sarkisian VOA African Music Collection, Sound Recordings, University of Michigan Music Library, UM Tape 0015

Music and Sounds

Musical selections and images come from the Leo Sarkisian Archive: Voice of America African Music Collection  and the British Library Sounds ArchiveSounds in order of appearance: