Monday, May 04, 2015


This image is courtesy Thom over at the AFRTS Archive Blog.
With the recent tensions between the United States and The Russian Federation of late I though tit might be worth revisiting the existence of Radio Free Europe (aka Radio Liberty). The radio service was actually founded a noticeably after the end of WWII. It wasn't a tool of the West against the Nazis. It was used as a tool against the Communists during the cold war funded by the CIA. Germany surrendered in May of 1945, Japan in august of the same year.  There was quite a lull in hostilities before RFE began broadcasting propaganda in 1949.

Also note that RFE is still broadcasting today. They still maintain 20 local bureaus in countries throughout Europe, and a corporate office in Washington D.C. Their coverage area includes: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgzstan, Macedonia, Modolva, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Pretty much the only part of Western Europe they aren't in is Romania and Bulgaria. RFE was headquartered at in Munich, Germany, from 1949 to 1995. The address must have seemed less politically appealing after German reunification as the headquarters were moved to Prague in the Czech Republic.

Their broadcasts have not been static. They have expanded and contracted as European Communism ebbs and flows. The RFE ended broadcasts to Hungary in 1993 and stopped broadcasts to Poland in 1997.  In 2004 RFE they stopped broadcasting to Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Romania. But in that time they also added Kosovo and Macedonia. 

These days the  CIA is a few steps removed their programming department. The RFE answers to the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors. But back to their origins. They were founded by the National Committee for a Free Europe in 1949. They were later renamed the Free Europe Committee (FEC.) That committee was not comprised of the French underground. It was a public-private partnership of the CIA and certain corporations. The Wilson Center has more information on that here. But some names you might recognize form those early days include Frank Altschul, Frederic Dolbeare.  Dwight Eisenhower, Lucius D. Clay, Cecil B. DeMille, Charles Douglas Jackson, Allan Dulles and Henry Luce. More here.