Ted (Tadeusz) Lipien was born in 1953 in Nowy Targ, a town in southern Poland between the historic city of Kraków to the north and the Tatra Mountains to the south. 1953 was the year of the death of the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and the end of the fighting in Korea. Poland was ruled by a communist regime controlled by Moscow; the communists imprisoned the head of the Polish Catholic Church, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, and a young priest, Father Karol Wojtyła, who was working with Polish university students as their spiritual advisor. The Cold War was at its peak. Communist propagandists were trying to win the hearts and minds of the Polish people.
Like every one of his generation in Poland, Ted was exposed at school to communist propaganda but was fortunate to learn Poland’s history from family members and patriotic school teachers. During his school years in Poland, he developed a lifelong interest in history and journalism. Discouraged by life under communism, he emigrated to the United States in 1970.
In 1973, Ted started his journalistic career at the Voice of America, a taxpayer-funded U.S. government radio station in Washington, D.C., broadcasting to audiences overseas since 1942. He began as a radio announcer with VOA’s Polish Service. In 1982, he was in charge of all radio broadcasts to Poland and oversaw their expansion during the communist regime’s crackdown on the independent Solidarity labor union.
By providing uncensored news and interviews with Solidarity activists and independent experts, the Voice America broadcasts to Poland had millions of listeners and successfully countered the communist regime’s misinformation and propaganda campaigns. During that time, Ted filed reports for VOA’s Polish and English programs.
One many people Ted interviewed during his career at VOA was Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, the future Pope John Paul II. In his book about John Paul II, Ted explains how the interview, conducted when Cardinal Wojtyła visited Washington, D.C. in 1976 – two years before being elected pope – revealed what the future head of the Catholic Church thought about the United States and secular liberal values. At that time, few people in the West knew about Karol Wojtyła or understood the whole meaning and impact of his views on women, family, and sexual ethics.
In the late 1980s, Ted traveled to Poland as a VOA reporter with Vice President George H. Bush and reported on Solidarity’s successful campaign to undermine the power of the communist regime through peaceful protests. He interviewed Lech Wałesa while the Solidarity leader was still under police surveillance. He also interviewed many other human rights activists who would later become future leaders in democratic Poland.
As the communist regimes started disintegrating in the early 1990s, Ted Lipien expanded VOA radio and television programs in Central and Easter Europe by working with local broadcasters eager to replace communist propaganda with objective journalism. In 1993, he went to Europe to continue VOA program placement activities. Working from an office in Munich, Germany, Ted established partnerships between VOA and hundreds of regional radio and television stations. In 1995, he became director of the International Broadcasting Bureau Regional Eurasia Marketing and Program Placement Office based in Prague, the Czech Republic.
During the Balkan war, Ted went to Sarajevo, Bosnia, to help a multiethnic radio station in that city carry Voice of America and Radio Free Europe programs. Shortly after U.S. and coalition forces liberated Afghanistan from Taliban rule, he negotiated and signed agreements for 24-hour VOA broadcasts on an FM station in Kabul. A few weeks before the fall of the Saddam regime, Ted concluded successful negotiations to place Radio Sawa and Voice of America programs on FM stations in northern Iraq.
In November 2003, Ted returned to Washington and became director of VOA’s European Division. After the outbreak of ethnic violence in Kosovo in March 2004, he oversaw the expansion of television broadcasts in Serbian and Albanian. He also launched an online multimedia opinion journal New Europe Review published in 19 languages. With Vaclav Havel as a member of the New Europe Review‘s International Advisory Board, the journal featured articles and interviews on transatlantic relations with contributions from American and European experts and opinion makers. Ted was later put in charge of the Eurasia Division at the Voice of America, where he was responsible for starting daily television news programs in Ukrainian during the Orange Revolution. He also started the first daily VOA television news program in Russian.
In September 2005, Ted was made VOA’s acting Associate Director for Central Programming. He received several awards for his work at the Voice of America and the International Broadcasting Bureau. Both entities reported to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG, later renamed the U.S. Agency for Global Media – USAGM) appointed by the President of the United States to oversee non-military international broadcasts financed by the U.S. Congress. Ted retired from VOA, and U.S. government service, in the spring of 2006.
While working in Europe, Ted started researching for his book about Pope John Paul II, focusing on the pope’s views on women and family. He spent part of his vacations in Poland collecting information in Kraków and the pope’s birthplace in Wadowice. During his research, he found numerous accounts of Wojtyła’s encounters with women as a student and a young priest and some of the future pope’s early statements on gender issues never before published in the West.
After his return to the United States in 2003, Ted continued his study of political propaganda and its effects on the interpretation of history, government policies, diplomacy, media, and public opinion. As it became clear that reliance on propaganda and lack of objective intelligence analysis produced some poor policy decisions leading up to the Iraq War, Ted started writing about the impact of propaganda and censorship on media reporting. In 2006, he founded FreeMediaOnline.org, a California-based non-profit organization that supports press freedom and independent journalism worldwide.
Ted received a BA degree in international relations from George Washington University and is a Phi Beta Kappa member. He is fluent in Polish, speaks Russian, and has a working knowledge of several Slavic and West European languages. He is married to Deborah Croyle. They live in Portland, Oregon.
Ted’s daughter, Lodi Lipien Rohrer, is a statistical research specialist at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
WOJTYŁA’s WOMEN: How They Shaped the Life of Pope John Paul II and Changed the Catholic Church by Ted Lipien
I read Ted Lipien’s important book with enormous interest. Few persons are as qualified as he is to enlighten readers about Pope John Paul II’s Polish roots — and the impact they had on his views on women. Lipien provides a stimulating analysis of the Pope’s ideas on gender roles and how John Paul believed the Church should deal with sexual issues. Dr. John H. Brown, former U.S. diplomat in Poland. Order WOJTYŁA’s WOMEN on AMAZON