Radio Wars : Broadcasting During the Cold War book cover
1st Edition

Radio Wars
Broadcasting During the Cold War

Edited By

Linda Risso

ISBN 9781138302822
Published January 12, 2018 by Routledge
150 Pages

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Book Description

During the Cold War, radio broadcasting played an important role in the ideological confrontation between East and West. As archival documents gathered in this volume reveal, radio broadcasting was among the most pressing concerns of contemporary information agencies. These broadcasts could penetrate the Iron Curtain and directly address the ‘enemy’. Radio was equally important in keeping sustained levels of support among the home public and the public of friendly nations. In the early Cold War in particular, listeners in the West had to be persuaded of the need for higher defence spending levels and a policy of containment. Later, even if other media – and in particular television – had become more important, radio continued to be used widely.

The chapters gathered here investigate both the institutional history of the radio broadcasting corporations in the East and in the West, and their relationship with other propaganda agencies of the time. They examine the ‘off-air’ politics of radio broadcasting, from the choice of theme to the selection of speakers, singers and music pieces. The key issue tackled by contributors is the problem of measuring the impact of, and qualifying the success of, information policies and propaganda programmes produced during the Cultural Cold War. This book was originally published as a special issue of Cold War History.

Table of Contents

Foreword Mick Cox

Introduction – Radio Wars: Broadcasting in the Cold War Linda Risso

1. ‘A hideously difficult country’: British propaganda to France in the early Cold War Hilary Footitt

2. Did the RAI buy it? The role and limits of American broadcasting in Italy in the Cold War Simona Tobia

3. Voices, letters, and literature through the Iron Curtain: exiles and the (trans) mission of radio in the Cold War Friederike Kind-Kovács

4. Cold War radio and the Hungarian Uprising, 1956 Alban Webb

5. Captive audience? GDR radio in the mirror of listeners’ mail Christoph Classen

6. Listening behind the curtain: BBC broadcasting to East Germany and its Cold War echo Patrick Major

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Linda Risso is Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Reading, UK. She is an expert in Cold War studies and her work focuses specifically on the interplay between intelligence and propaganda. She is the author of Propaganda and Intelligence: The NATO Information Service during the Cold War (Routledge, 2014).


"Radio Wars is a fascinating collection of articles about the role of foreign propaganda broadcasts to both Western and Eastern Europe. This subject is clearly one which deserves a wider audience."

- David Harris, Radio User Magazine, May 2018

"This is a collection of very well researched academic essays about the BBC, VOA, Radio Free Europe/Liberty and their role in broadcasting to Eastern Europe."

- David Harris, Radio Books of the Year