In August 1949, George V. Allen wrote an article for the now defunct Washington Star newspaper in response to a common question at the time: why were Voice of America programs not conveniently heard inside the United States. Allen, then the the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, also described VOA.
Allen was the third Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, following Archibald MacLeish and William Benton. Allen was also the first Foreign Service Officer to hold the position. As the Assistant Secretary, he in charge of a large international information service that included "documentary motion picture films, posters, pamphlets, photographs, and various other means to give foreigners correct information about the United States."
Also under Allen were the information and cultural "interchanges." At the time, international educational affairs, such as exchanges, were cultural affairs. Allen's office managed and coordinated exchanges with "students, technicians, and other persons between the United States and foreign countries, we give a small but significant support to American schools in Latin America, and we maintain most of the American libraries established abroad during the war."
Through the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, these collective programs were authorized to disseminate information around the world (i.e. "abroad"). Previously, before the language "disseminate abroad" was passed in legislation, the State Department's authorities were limited to the Western Hemisphere, once the temporary expanded authorization of global engagement ended with the expiration of the War Powers Act.
The international programs included both the United States Information Service and the shortwave broadcasting effort known as the Voice of America. Despite the enormous cost of running a network of domestic and foreign transmitters, the VOA was only one-fourth of the total budget.
The modern read may be interested in Allen's answer to "Why can't we in the United States hear the Voice of America broadcasts?"
This is a stark contrast to the common modern interpretation of the limits of the law. These interpretations are largely based on reappraisals made in the 1960s which twist the non-compete element into something else.
Allen was pragmatic about the role of the information programs, including the radio broadcast operation, and estimating their effectiveness. The ability to measure impact was difficult, more so then than today. Here is how he answered the question of effectiveness.
The role of VOA was clear and its mission of broadcasting, while distinct, was complementary to the other information programs that disseminated information abroad. And there was no domestic prohibition on accessing any of the information broadcast or disseminated abroad as authorized by the Smith-Mundt Act.
The broadcasting of VOA would later be described by Edward R. Murrow as relatively easy. The hard part was, Murrow said, was the "last three feet" of the other information programs that operated in-person, face-to-face with foreign audiences.