Video: This Is Radio Free Europe (1964)


If you’re in the mood for a little Cold War era nostalgia, check out this video produced by Radio Free Europe in 1964. One of the things I found most fascinating was seeing the number of rack-mounted Hammarlund SP-600s (and other benchmark receivers) at the RFE monitoring station near Munich.

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5 thoughts on “Video: This Is Radio Free Europe (1964)

  1. DanH

    The narrator for the RFE PSA sounds like Vic Perrin, the Control Voice (narrator) for the original Outer Limits TV series.

  2. DanH

    Great film! Looks to be from the late 50’s with a sample RFE PSA from 1964 tagged onto the end. Note Vice President Nixon in the main film and the post-Beatles haircuts and sideburns in the PSA.

    Highlights and time marks:

    4:04 Wall o’ Hammarlund SP-600 communications receivers. Over dozen of them set up for RTTY. These look like SP-600 JX-xx with the switchable crystal controlled channel selectors in the upper right corners.

    4:15 Wall o’ Collins 51J series communications receivers, again set up for RTTY. Over a dozen. These look to be the milspec/industrial version of the 51J-3: R-388/URR.

    4:49 A pair of SP-600s for intercept operation.

    15:15. A piano that sounds as if it had been tuned with a pipe wrench.

    19:06 A pair of R-388s set up for intercept ops.

    The SP-600 is a nice rig. It is frequency agile. By that I mean it is easy to hunt down signals all over the SW spectrum quickly with its tuning set-up. It was stable enough for RTTY use but lacked a lot in the ability to dial tune the radio accurately. That’s why the XTAL controlled frequency selector was so handy. On the other hand, the R-388 had excellent dial accuracy and stability. It was designed with RTTY use in mind. Although not quite as nimble hopping the SW bands as the SP-600 it was also used for intercept operation. In reality, both communications receivers did well as intercept and RTTY receivers. Both were manufactured in large numbers beginning in the early 1950’s.

    I was surprised not to see any Collins-designed R-390As, but I guess RFE had to operate on a tight budget.

  3. Moshe Ze'ev Zaharia

    Great video!
    My mom (who passed away 10 years ago) used to tell me that back in her youth in Romania, she used to listen to RFE, she called it “Radio Europa Libere”.
    She told me that the news was far better than Romanian radio, and they had “the best music shows”.

    Best Regards,


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