"Grey" and "Black" Radio Broadcasting Operations

A - J

Materials listed here cover both U.S. and UK broadcasting efforts.

The Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Web site is located at This is an excellent reference for current information on Russia, Central Asia, and East Europe.

Abshire, David M. International Broadcasting: A New Dimension of Western Diplomacy. Center for Strategic and International Studies. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage, 1977.

Abshire was the first chairman of the U.S. Board for International Broadcasting 1975-1977. He died 31 October 2014. See Emily Langer, "David M. Abshire, CSIS Founder, NATO Ambassador and Policymaker, Dies at 88," Washington Post, 1 Nov. 2014.

Ahrens, Frank. "Radio Free Iraq's Strong Signal: U.S. News Service Heats Up for First Time Since Cold War." Washington Post, 18 Dec. 1998, D2. []

Radio Free Iraq began broadcasting taped newscasts into Iraq via shortwave radio on 30 October 1998. The service operates from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty headquarters, overlooking historic Wenceslaus Square, in Prague. David Newton is director of the service whose budget is $5 million. See also, Harvey, "U.S. Anti-Saddam Measures," Periscope 21.4 (Dec. 1998), 5.

Barnes, Trevor. "Democratic Deception: American Covert Operations in Post-War Europe." In Deception Operations: Studies in the East-West Context, eds. David A. Charters and Maurice A.J. Tugwell, 297-323. Washington, DC: Brassey's, 1990.

This chapter covers "political deception in Italy between 1948 and 1958, the work of the 'Anti-Cominform,' and the establishment of American broadcasting stations designed to reach audiences beyond the 'Iron Curtain.'" (p. 300)

Browne, Donald R. International Radio Broadcasting: The Limits of the Limitless Medium. New York: Praeger, 1982. [Cummings]

Browne, Donald R. "R.I.A.S. Berlin: A Case Study of a Cold War Broadcasting Operation." Journal of Broadcasting 10 (Spring 1966): 119-135.

Critchlow, James. Radio Hole-in-the-Head/Radio Liberty. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1995.

Clark comment: Critchlow was one of founders of Radio Liberty (RL). He has produced a book that is simultaneously temperate and revealing about RL's role in the Cold War. This is certainly not the last word on the use of radio broadcasting as a Cold War weapon, but the author has told his story well and with great honesty. Those who want to carp will disagree with his presentation of CIA editorial control of RL as virtually nonexistent. There is no argument that the CIA provided the money that kept RL and its counterpart Radio Free Europe (RFE) alive. That the CIA did not direct the day-to-day content of the broadcasts probably will not be believed by some, despite the fact that such was the actual situation for both practical and operational reasons.

According to Surveillant 4.4/5, the author "shows us the surprising acrimony and open warfare which existed for 20 years between RL and RFE.... CIA's role is shown here to have been far less important than one would have expected." Rawnsley, I&NS 11.4, calls Critchlow's book an "intimate, compelling, and frequently moving account of life on the front of Cold War Europe." The author handles the difficult subject of RL's contribution to the end of the Cold War "with maturity and an awareness of propaganda's limitations."

Cummings, Richard H.

Evans, Rowland, and Robert Novak. "Financing of Radio Free Europe Leaves Nixon Sensitive Problem." Washington Post, 5 Dec. 1968, A21.

Hale, Julian. Radio Power: Propaganda and International Broadcasting. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1975.

Hill, Cissie Dore. "Voices of Hope: The Story of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty." Hoover Digest 2001, no. 4. []

Cummings, Intelligencer 15.3 (Summer-Fall 2007), calls this article a "superb historical overview of RFE/RL."

Hixson, Walter L. Parting the Curtain: Propaganda, Culture, and the Cold War, 1945-1961. New York: St. Martin's, 1997. London: Macmillan, 1997.

According to Caffrey, History 26.1, the author examines the "cultural infiltration" of the Soviet bloc through propaganda and cultural exchange programs. Hixson details the development of the Voice of America, Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe, and the instruments of cultural diplomacy. Rawnsley, I&NS 14.2, finds this to be "a fascinating and comprehensive study of early Cold War propaganda.... Hixson's research is impressive.... [He has] produced a book that is based more on primary sources than any other recent treatments of the same subject."

Holt, Robert T. Radio Free Europe. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1958.

Published prior to public knowledge of and does not mention the radio's CIA connection.

Johnson, A. Ross. "Lessons from Hungary '56." International Herald Tribune, 6 Nov. 2006. []

On the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian revolution, "[m]any commentaries ... repeated allegations ... that Radio Free Europe helped provoke the revolution, appealed to insurgents to continue fighting against hopeless odds and promised Western military aid when none could be forthcoming.... Careful review of RFE's Hungarian broadcasts ... show[s] that no RFE broadcast prior to the outbreak of the anti-Communist rebellion on Oct. 23 urged violent confrontation with the authorities. No subsequent broadcast appealed to Hungarians to keep fighting the Soviet Army or promised Western military intervention.... [However,] Hungarian programming, once the uprising began, was marked by a highly emotional tone that ranged from vituperative attacks on Imre Nagy ... to impassioned admiration for the freedom fighters that identified RFE too closely with the revolution....

"Most of the broadcasting into Hungary 50 years ago was factual and professional.... But listening to these objective reports, the Hungarian audience heard widespread support for their cause, and could understandably but falsely conclude that Hungary would not be abandoned by the West. The Hungarian revolution demonstrated that under crisis conditions a broadcast audience can misinterpret even the most accurate, professional news reports of outside sympathy as unqualified backing for their cause, particularly if the broadcaster allows itself the luxury of passionate commentary."

Johnson, A. Ross. Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty: The CIA Years and Beyond. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010.

Clark comment: My review of Johnson's work is published as "Taking It to the Communists" in International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 26.3 (Fall 2013): 624-630. I call the book "an incremental addition to the Cold War literature" that "provides considerable detailed documentation and perspective on Western Cold War radio broadcasting to the Soviet Union and the Bloc countries."

Peake, Studies 55.3 (Sep. 2011), notes that although the author is a former RFE Director, he "has not written a personal or anecdotal account." Instead, he "dwells on individuals and their formative ideas, the organizations they created, and the bureaucratic disputes that ensued.... This is a fine scholarly book. Superbly documented and easy to read."

. Johnson, A. Ross, and R. Eugene Parta, eds.

1. Cold War Broadcasting: Impact on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Budapest: Central European University Press, 2010.

From publisher: "This book ... 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 once-secret Soviet and East European archives, most of them published here for the first time."

2. Cold War Broadcasting [e-Dossier]. Cold War International History Project. Wilson Center. At:

"This e-Dossier contains translations of documents from Central/East European and Soviet archives concerning Western broadcasting during the Cold War. The documents show that the Communist regimes perceived 'enemy' broadcasts as a serious threat to the systems they ruled and were prepared to take extensive countermeasures to limit the impact of the broadcasts.... All documents in this e-Dossier were originally published ...  in Cold War Broadcasting; Impact on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe" (2010).

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