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Foreign Radios. Broadcasting and Jamming.

Radio Liberty. Cold War.

Foreign Radios. Broadcasting and Jamming.

Radio Liberty. Cold War

Excerpts from

my 15 years at iki by mike gruntman

My Fifteen Years at IKI, the Space Research Institute:

Position-Sensitive Detectors and Energetic Neutral Atoms Behind the Iron Curtain

Interstellar Trail Press, 2022. ISBN 979-8985668704

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Chapter 6. Boundary conditions of Life and Work

The free spirit in the ether (pp. 129ff)

The above-mentioned Western radio played an important role in the Cold War struggle between the free world and the dark forces of Communism. It kept free spirits alive in totalitarian Marxist hell.

IKI 15 pages 129-148

The information brought by the radio mitigated, in part, fabrications in Pravda, other newspapers and magazines, radio, and television programs. Being continuously exposed to the output of the agitation and propaganda arms of the Communist Party led to the development of abilities to identify falsehoods. Therefore, it is so easy now to spot tendentious misrepresentations, a rampant bias of the "narratives," and outright lies in the dominating left-wing media in the United States. Europe is no different in this respect.

Today, the most influential American newspapers play the role of the Democratic Party press, the giant tech firms control the distribution of the news and manipulate and filter them, and the media, in general, turned hard left. [21] The term "mainstream [media]" has lost its meaning. My past experience makes it possible to read fake news stories in self-described newspapers of record and watch television networks and cable channels that are brimming with self-importance and still be able to figure out, despite distortions, what is really happening in the country and the world. Perhaps minute details are lost, but certainly the main story comes across.

Even in the closed society of the Soviet Union, there were ways of obtaining some banned information despite all restrictions, censorship, unending deceit, and brainwashing. Thinking rationally, testing hypotheses, and relying on experimental facts and observations, which is the basis of the practice of physics, supported the development of independent points of view. Common sense contributed mightily as well. The Western radio helped the cause of freedom in an important way, despite relentless attempts to block transmissions.

Seventy years ago, the U.S. Ambassador to Moscow wrote that the Kremlin began "the extensive program of jamming" Russian-language broadcasts by the Western radio in the spring of 1949. [22] A contemporary CIA report pointed out that jamming of Russian-language programs from Madrid in Spain was conducted as early as 1946. Then, "[b]eginning on 24 April 1949, a new period of particularly intensive jamming of [Voice of America] VOA Russian-language frequencies began." [23]

Full-scale warfare in the ether had erupted.

The Marxist state could not tolerate independent sources of information and disapproved of the subjects who listened to foreign radio. Fortunately, the punishment usually was moderate and did not lead to imprisonment for this widespread practice. Already in the mid-1950s, a CIA report described that "listening to foreign broadcasts by the Soviet populace is generally done on the sly and while the individuals are alone. Home listening, within the strict family circle also seems to be a normal practice. Not knowing who can be trusted or who is sufficiently reliable, the families are careful not to create suspicion among their neighbors." [24]

Broadcasting and jamming

Several countries, a coalition of the willing, would broadcast to the communist world behind the Iron Curtain in many languages. The most prominent government stations included Voice of America, the U.K.'s British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), West Germany's Deutsche Welle (German Wave), and Israel's Kol Israel (Voice of Israel).

In addition, two formally nongovernment sister stations, Radio Free Europe (RFE) and Radio Liberty (RL), were particularly active in highlighting the failures and crimes of the regimes. Originally, the Central Intelligence Agency funded RFE and RL in secret. Later, in 1971, the U.S. Government began open funding of the stations by Congressional appropriations. In turn, the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China broadcast numerous communist radio programs to various countries across the globe.

In the mid-1980s, Voice of America provided "nearly 270 frequency hours daily into the Soviet Union and Eastern Block countries. Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty broadcast more than 100 frequency hours." [25] In addition, Voice of Israel beamed more than 50 hours into the Soviet Union each day.

Initially, in the 1940s and 1950s, some broadcasting was in the medium frequencies but then shifted almost exclusively to high frequencies or short waves. The most common wavelengths were at the 13 m range (frequency band at 23 MHz), 19 m (19 MHz), 25 m (12 MHz), 31 m (9.5 MHz), 41 m (7 MHz), and 49 m (6 MHz). Broadcasts at the shortest wavelengths, 13 m, 16 m, and 19 m, became active only in the 1970s and 1980s as it was difficult earlier to find radio sets in the Soviet block capable of reception in those ranges.

The Soviet state invested huge resources in jamming foreign radios, which with time became a major and expensive undertaking. It combined ...

IKI 15 pages 134, 135 foreign radio

Fig. 6.12. Transmitters of Radio Liberty on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea on the Costa Brava north of Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain, in the 1960s. The site housed six transmitters with 250 kW power each. Four transmitters could also be linked together to send a megawatt signal. Reflected from the ionosphere, skywave signals effectively reached densely populated parts of the Soviet Union, with Moscow being about 3,200 km (2,000 miles) away. In the late 1970s, "[d]espite the severe jamming ... Radio Liberty listenership averaged 7.6 million people a week" [134-1]. These antennas of Radio Liberty were demolished on March 22, 2006. Photograph credit: RFE/RL, USAGM.

Fig. 6.13. Coverage of the Soviet Union by sky-wave signals of Radio Liberty’s transmitters at Lampertheim in West Germany (solid contours), Playa de Pals in Spain (dashed contours), and on Taiwan (dot-filled regions). [135-1]


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