What is Radio Free Europe?

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  • Written By: Garry Crystal
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 25 August 2019
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Radio Free Europe is a radio organization based in Europe and the Middle East. In 1949, the National Committee for a Free Europe was formed in New York, and Radio Free Europe was established as the radio broadcasting station of the committee. The headquarters of the radio station were based in Munich, and the first transmission was broadcast on 4 July 1950.

The mission statement of Radio Free Europe was the promotion of democratic values and institutions through the transmission of factual information and ideas. Up until 1971, the listening public were unaware that the funding for Radio Free Europe came from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Funds were passed to the CIA via the Congress of the United States.

The original purpose of Radio Free Europe was to broadcast news to the people behind the Iron Curtain. The CIA, however, used the radio station to conduct psychological warfare from behind the Iron Curtain. All of the programming guidelines and much of the news were actually created by the CIA. When the public became aware of CIA involvement in Radio Free Europe, the organization became a non-profit company charted in the state of Delaware. The International Broadcasting Bureau took over the radio station.


By 1975, Radio Free Europe had combined with the anti-communist radio station Radio Liberty. Radio Liberty was created in 1951 by the American Committee of the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia. From then on, the station became known as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The Soviet authorities at the time constantly tried to disrupt the station's broadcasts by jamming radio signals.

With the fall of the Soviet Union, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty underwent many budget cuts. The headquarters of the station were moved many times until they eventually settled in the Czech Republic in 1995. The current content of the radio station is varied and includes political news, sports and music programs. The programs are written, produced and presented by the nationals of the country in which they are based.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has expanded in many different parts of the world. There is now a Radio Free Iraq and a Radio Free Afghanistan. Today, Radio Free Europe broadcasts around 1,000 hours of content a week. It can be heard in 28 languages over the radio and the Internet and can be found on short wave AM and FM radio.


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Post 1

Ah! So Radio Free Europe isn't just the title of a great, mumbling slice of jangle pop from R.E.M., huh? Honestly, it's good to know that old Cold War relic has adapted to the changing times and has expanded to keep espousing those good all democratic values.

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