Medford and Alba Italy Celebrate 60th Anniversary of Historic Call

On July 26, 2022, the City joined Mayor Randy Sparacino and residents of our Sister City, Alba, Italy to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the historic Telstar Satellite call between our two cities. The call included remarks from both mayors, sister city committee members, and played audio clips from the original Telstar phone call.

Courtesy of the City of Medford

“Thank you to all who have continued to support this strong sister city relationship. Even though we are thousands of miles apart, it is inspiring that we can use modern technology to communicate instantly and continue to build and grow this relationship long into the future,” said Mayor Sparacino.

The United States launched the first telecommunications satellite, Telstar, on July 10, 1962. The satellite was capable of relaying both telephone and television signals. On July 23rd, 1962 the satellite carried its first telephone call and President John F. Kennedy’s televised press conference. Three days later, it made history when it was used to link 23 American cities with their European sister cities. Medford was the only northwest city chosen for this honor.

Alba’s Mayor Osvaldo Cagnasso and Medford’s Mayor John Snider spoke with each other for the first time via satellite, two years after the Sister City connection started. An operator moderated the call and an English teacher from one of Alba’s schools translated the conversation. The call lasted about 13 minutes until the Telstar satellite went out of range.

Even though the call occurred at midnight in Alba, a crowd of over 5,000 people gathered in the square outside of Alba’s City Hall to hear the historic phone call over a public address system. The plaza, like most of the city, was decorated with American flags for the occasion. The Eugene Register Guard reported that, “The crowd was silent during the conversation but broke into a loud cheer when it ended.” Sixty people gathered in Medford’s council chambers to witness the event. Five days later, Alba’s first ambassador, Pino Dutto, arrived in Medford.

For the past 62 years, many deep friendships between the cities have been established through various exchanges of the business community, leaders, community members, and students.