The Battles of Western Broadcasting in the Cold War

  Many believe that more than any other factor, the strong, steady voice of radio programs targeting the Soviet bloc was responsible for the West's triumph in the Cold War.

Decades of anti-Communist broadcasting by the United States and its European allies kept Communist leaders on guard and kept hope alive for millions who strained to hear political opinions from outside the monotonous media of the one-party state.

The CIA created Radio Free Europe (RFE) in 1950 to broadcast to Eastern Europe and Radio Liberty (RL)RL in 1953 to broadcast to Russia.

The Soviets responded by sending spies into the midst of the emigre groups that staffed Western short-wave stations. In a few cases, Communist agents infiltrated the leadership ranks of the CIA front groups. Their effect on station operations was negligible, however.

Moscow also took extraordinary measures to choke off access to the stations on the home front. A partially effective way to disrupt the incoming signals was to activate noise jammers on the same frequencies.

By 1958 the Russians were devoting more resources to jamming than to their own domestic and international broadcasts.

However even when the jamming equipment was at full strength, many of the broadcasts got though.

In 1956 Hungarian citizens rose up briefly against Communist authorities. Many later said they were prodded on, at least in part, by Radio Free Europe.