BBG Watch is posting under its “60 RL” series historical and current news to commemorate the 60 anniversary of Radio Liberty, which falls on March 1. While the current crisis at Radio Liberty has not yet been resolved, the Broadcasting Board of Governors has appointed distinguished journalist Kevin Klose to lead Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) for one year and he has met in Moscow with fired Radio Liberty journalists and with leading Russian human rights and democratic political figures.
A brief historical summary of the U.S. financed radio station known as Radio Liberty was published on the Cold War Radios Blog by Richard H. Cummings, a former Director of Security at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). Richard H. Cummings is the author of “Cold War Radio: The Dangerous History of American Broadcasting in Europe, 1950-1989” (2009) and “Radio Free Europe’s ‘Crusade for Freedom’: Rallying Americans Behind Cold War Broadcasting, 1950-1960” (2010).
In a move surrounded by controversy, RFE/RL recently decided to fire most of its Radio Liberty (Radio Svoboda in Russian) staff in Moscow — about 40 journalists, the RL Moscow website team and technicians. The move has been heavily criticized by many supporters of Radio Liberty, including former Soviet President Mihail S. Gorbachev, who said:
Glasnost is threatened in Russia and other countries. Journalists and press are being increasingly attacked. Glasnost helped break the resistance of conservative reactionary top bureaucracy, when its representatives attempted to turn back Russia’s development. Today, when people openly show their will to influence the government’s policy and participate in forming their destiny, glasnost’s importance grows.
Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty’s management decision to dismiss almost all of the Russian service staff looks especially strange in this context. In times of severe censorship Radio Svoboda (RFE/RL Russian Service) made calls for democratization and glasnost a tenor of its programs. It is hard to get rid of an impression that RFE/RL’s American management is prepared to make an about turn.
Also, Radio Liberty in Moscow will cease broadcasting on the medium wave band (MW) 1044 as of November 10, 2012, in favor of the digital world of the Internet.
Below is a brief historical summary of the U.S. financed radio station known as Radio Liberty.