Tag Archives: Cold War

Cold War radio treasure trove: The CIA Freedom of Information Act Reading room

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Alexander (DL4NO), who writes:

I just found a German reference to the CIA Freedom of Information Act Reading room

https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/

As a first test I searched for “radio design”. A few of the documents found:

  • ACTIVITIES OF AMATEUR RADIO DESIGNERS
  • JPRS ID: 8744 TRANSLATION ELECTROMAGNETIC SHIELDING DESIGN FOR RADIO-ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT
  • DOSO INSTRUCTION FOR AMATEUR RADIO OPERATORS; BULGARIAN RADIO EQUIPMENT PRODUCTION
  • AIRCRAFT RADIO COMMUNICATIONS IN THE USSR

This could be an amazing source, especially of historical information from the Eastern Block. But expect any search to be real work: Only the title and some classification of the documents are searchable. The rest is scanned documents.

Very cool–thanks for sharing, Alexander. I spent a little time this morning browsing the results using various radio-related search strings. It is a very deep archive.

Click here to search the CIA reading room.

Radio Free Europe and Christmas

1951 RFE Christmas card

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Cummings, who shares the 1951 Radio Free Europe Christmas card above.

Richard also notes that he recently published a two-part series on RFE and Christmas on his blog, Cold War Radio Vignettes.

Both excellent reads! Thanks, Richard!

RFE and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution (Part 2)

HalliDial

Many thanks to Richard Cummings of the website, Cold War Radio Vignettes, who writes:

[F]or your weekend reading pleasure, Part Two, in which I briefly examine the background to and excerpts from the RFE controversial broadcasts:

https://coldwarradios.blogspot.de/2016/08/radio-free-europe-and-1956-hungarian_5.html

Many thanks for sharing, Richard!

RFE and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution (Part 1)

HalliDial

Many thanks to Richard Cummings of the website, Cold War Radio Vignettes, who notes that he has posted a new article about Radio Free Europe and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution (Part 1).

The article spotlights Operation FOCUS, which was the combined balloon/leaflet and RFE broadcast endeavours 1954-56. Richard notes that Part 2 will be posted next week and will cover the controversial RFE broadcasts during the revolution.

Click here to read at the Cold War Radio Vignettes website.

Cold War Radio: The BBC’s plans in the event of nuclear war

BBC-AT-WAR

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, William Lee, who shares this item from the BBC:

(Source: BBC News)

For the first time, the BBC has given detailed access to the plans it drew up in the Cold War for a Wartime Broadcasting System to operate in the event of nuclear war. Paul Reynolds, a former BBC diplomatic and foreign correspondent, has been studying the secrets of what was known as the “War Book”.

The War Book reveals a world of meticulous BBC planning. The Wartime Broadcasting System (WTBS) – referred to in the book as “Deferred Facilities” – would have operated from 11 protected bunkers spread across the UK.

Known as “Regional Seats of Government”, these would also have sheltered government ministers and staff from government departments during what is termed a “nuclear exchange”. The BBC had a studio in each, usually with five staff drawn mostly from nearby local radio stations.

The BBC’s headquarters would have been a bunker at the Engineering Training Department at Wood Norton in Worcestershire, where 90 BBC staff would have been assembled, including engineers, announcers, 12 news editors and sub-editors and ominously “two nominations from Religious Broadcasting”. Output would have been controlled by the government.

To keep the public amused during Armageddon, a collection of cassette tapes of old radio programmes including the Goon Show, Just a Minute and Round the Horne, was kept in a grey locker at Wood Norton. It was eventually realised, however, that these were redundant. If there had been a nuclear attack, radios would probably have been dependent on batteries and these would have needed to be conserved for news and important announcements.[…]

[Continue reading…]

Oh how I would love to read a copy of the “War Book”–! I hope, at some point, the BBC adds it to their online archives. Last year, we published a post with the actual statement the BBC would have broadcast in the event of a nuclear exchange. Click here to read the post.