Live Webcast-- Cold War International Broadcasting: Lessons Learned

May 25, 2006 // 4:00pm5:30pm

To watch the live webcast, follow the links in the See Also box to the right of this screen.

Moynihan Boardroom (6th Floor)
Woodrow Wilson Center
1300 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20004

A. Ross Johnson, former director, Radio Free Europe, and Public Policy
Scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center

R. Eugene Parta, Director of Audience Research and Program Evaluation, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Drawing on evidence presented at a Cold War International History Project-Hoover Institution conference, archival materials, and the panelists' personal experiences, this session will discuss the factors underlying the success of international broadcasting during the Cold War. Western broadcasts had a remarkable impact in the USSR and Eastern Europe. They reached mass audiences, as documented by traveler surveys at the time and confirmed by evidence from the formerly closed Communist archives. They reached key elites, both within the Communist regimes and among regime opponents. They influenced attitudes and opinions of the listeners. The key to the mass and elite audiences were the credibility and relevance of the broadcasts. RFE, RL, VOA, and BBC each had important but distinct roles, reaching different audiences; RFE and RL were "surrogates" – decentralized substitute home broadcasters. Government mechanisms were geared to providing public funding and oversight while ensuring management autonomy and journalistic independence.

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Experts & Staff

  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Laura Deal // Catalog Specialist
  • Pieter Biersteker // Editorial Assistant
  • Charles Kraus // Program Associate
  • Evan Pikulski // Program Assistant
  • James Person // Deputy Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project