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Cold War Broadcasting

Impact on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe

Edited by
A. Ross Johnson, former director of Radio Free Europe and the Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty Research Institute. Research fellow at the Hoover Institution and senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Institute for Scholars.
R. Eugene Parta, retired Director of Audience Research and Program Evaluation for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague.


The book examines the role of Western broadcasting to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe during the Cold War, with a focus on Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. It includes chapters by radio veterans and by scholars who have conducted research on the subject in once-secret Soviet bloc archives and in Western records. It also contains a selection of translated documents from formerly secret Soviet and East European archives, most of them published here for the first time.

Previous studies have examined the history and organization of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, and their place in American national security strategy. What has been lacking until now are studies of the impact of Western Cold War broadcasting, on both societies and Communist regimes, that draw on archival material from the other side of the former Iron Curtain.


Preface; Foreword by Timothy Garton Ash; Introduction;
PART ONE: GOALS OF THE BROADCASTS Chapter One: RFE’s Early Years: Evolution of Broadcast Policy and Evidence of Broadcast Impact Chapter Two: Goals of Radio Liberty Chapter Three: The Voice of America: A Brief Cold War History
PART TWO: JAMMING AND AUDIENCES Chapter Four: Cold War Radio Jamming Appendix A: Types of Jamming Appendix B: An Example of a Shortwave Broadcasting Station During the Cold War Chapter Five: The Audience to Western Broadcasts to the USSR During the Cold War: An External Perspective Chapter Six: The Foreign Radio Audience in the USSR During the Cold War: An Internal Perspective Chapter Seven: The Audience to Western Broadcasts to Poland During the Cold War Appendix C: Weekly Listening Rates for Major Western Broadcasters to Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and the USSR During the Cold War
PART THREE: IMPACT OF WESTERN BROADCASTS IN EASTERN EUROPE Chapter Eight: Radio Free Europe in the Eyes of the Polish Communist Elite Chapter Nine: Polish Regime Countermeasures Against Radio Free Europe Chapter Ten: Radio Free Europe’s Impact in Romania During the Cold War Chapter Eleven: Ceauşescu’s War Against Our Ears Chapter Twelve: Just Noise? Impact of Radio Free Europe in Hungary Chapter Thirteen: Bulgarian Regime Countermeasures Against Radio Free Europe
PART FOUR: IMPACT OF WESTERN BROADCASTS IN THE USSR Chapter Fourteen: Soviet Reactions to Foreign Broadcasting in the 1950s; Chapter Fifteen: Foreign Media, the Soviet Western Frontier, and the Hungarian and Czechoslovak Crises Chapter Sixteen: Water Shaping the Rock: Cold War Broadcasting Impact in Latvia
PART FIVE: CONCLUSIONS Chapter Seventeen: Cold War International Broadcasting and the Road to Democracy
PART SIX: DOCUMENTS FROM EAST EUROPEAN AND SOVIET ARCHIVES I. Regime Perceptions of Western Broadcasters II. Regime Countermeasures Against Western Broadcasters
Contributors; Glossary; Index

596 pages
ISBN 978-963-9776-80-7 cloth $60.00 / €50.00 / £45.00 out of print
ISBN 978-615-5225-07-9 paperback $35.00 / €32.50 / £27.99

"In recent years, Cold War studies have undergone a modest revolution. In addition to the
many political, diplomatic, and military books and articles on the Cold War, a few scholars
have begun to focus on the importance of soft power in the confl ict. Cold War Broadcasting
is a welcome addition to that small but growing body of scholarship... the articles and documents provide a wealth of new information that lays the foundation for a critical analysis of RFE/RL’s and other western broadcasters’ impact on the Soviet Union and its satellites in eastern Europe." - Slavic Review

"One would not expect a scrupulously researched academic tome to read like a spy novel, but Cold War Broadcasting manages in places to do just that. Based to a very large extent on files from Soviet-era intelligence and security establishments, this book examines the impact of government-sponsored Western broadcasting on societies behind the Iron Curtain and the efforts made to counter that impact.
The most fascinating study in the book, by István Rév of Budapest, is an introspecitve and philosophical tract. Rév alludes to the fact that both Washington and Moscow intently studied one another's messages and modified thier own messages accordingly - a subtle example of international meta-broadcasting.
As pointed out in this intriguing study and attested to in the words of the political elites most adversely impacted by Western radio, funding for these efforts constituted the best imaginable bargain in combating Communism, given the pervasive effect such broadcasts had on the course of history. Even CIA analysts relied on information that could be provided only by the radio stations". - Slavic and East European Journal

"Now we have this wonderful book to explain to us how the Voices functioned, what their problems and successes were, how jamming worked, and what the authorities were worried about. Here, in one thick volume, we have the inside story of so many issues that surfaced during the Cold War, when information beamed to this part of the world was arguably the West’s most dangerous weapon. Cold War Broadcasting does not read like a novel, although the material is dramatic and exciting enough for many novels." - Russian Review

"This volume is an exceptional contribution to the growing literature on the politics of the 'Cultural Cold War'. Fruit of a 2004 conference at Stanford University co-sponsored by the Hoover Intsitution and the Cold War International History Project, it features analyses by former broadcasters and academics as well as over two hundred pages of documents in translation from archives across the former Soviet bloc." - Slavonica

"This collection of documents and scholarly analysis marks a major advance in the discussion, and furthers understanding the role of propaganda and reliable information in shaping the complex dynamics of the Cold War. Summing up: Highly recommended." - Choice
In addition, Choice designated the book as an Outstanding Academic Title.