Tag Archives: Cold War

Cold War Sports: High-Speed Telegraphy

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans, who shares the following short radio documentary from the BBC World Service:

The end of the Cold War in 1989 spelt the demise of a little-known, but surprisingly popular sport behind the Iron Curtain – high-speed telegraphy competitions. With the help of two of Czechoslovakia’s best former Morse-coders, we revisit the inaugural World Championship in Moscow in 1983 when the Soviet Union rolled out the red carpet for teams from across the Communist bloc. Ashley Byrne reports. The programme is a Made-In-Manchester Production.

Click here to listen to this program via the BBC.

As Paul points out, “HST is still going strong as a sport!” Indeed it is because CW is simply timeless! Thanks for the tip, Paul!

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Short film about RIAS (Rundfunk im amerikanischen Sektor)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gerhart, who shares links to this short 1994 film, produced by Deutsche Welle TV, about the West Berlin radio station, RIAS:

Part 1:

Part 2:

I’m curious if any SWLing Post readers ever listened to or logged RIAS while living or travelling in West/East Berlin during the Cold War years. Please comment!

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BBC World Service documentary about Radio Berlin International Service to Africa


Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Kris and Ed who both note a fascinating BBC World Service documentary. Ed writes:

Hey Thomas,

SWLing Post readers will surely enjoy this brilliant BBC World Service documentary about Radio Berlin International Service to Africa. “Comrade Africa” offers a 53-minute fascinating blast from the cold-war past with many nostalgic RBI airchecks and programming analyses.

-Ed

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3ct036t

Comrade Africa

The Documentary

How Communist East Germany tried to influence Africa via radio, during the Cold War. The West often saw the GDR as a grim and grey place, so it’s something of a surprise to find a radio station based in East Berlin playing swinging African tunes. Yet Radio Berlin International (RBI), the ‘voice of the German Democratic Republic’, made it all happen over the many years it broadcast to Africa. It built on the little known strong bonds between East Germany and several large states in Africa such as Tanzania and Angola during the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s.

Dr Emily Oliver, a historian of postwar Germany from Warwick University, finds out why multicultural Radio Berlin International was a special place within East Germany and what happened behind the scenes. The government set tight reporting restrictions on output. Staff faced the dilemma of following the rules while competing with the likes of the BBC World Service. They were also conscious of the output of the station’s main direct rival, West Germany’s Deutsche Welle, which portrayed the world quite differently. And how did RBI employees coming from nations like Tanzania cope with working for the oppressive East German regime?

Emily hears how RBI appealed to listeners in Africa, reveals how East Germans and Angolans made friends over coffee and tractors, and discovers how the Cold War played out in Africa at a time when many African states were fighting for independence.

Presenter: Emily Oliver
Producer: Sabine Schereck
Researcher: Balthazar Kitundu
Editor: Hugh Levinson
Readers: Neil McCaul, Leone Ouedraogo (podcast only), Ian Conningham and Adam Courting
The Two Comrades: Will Kirk and Greg Jones

Click here to listen on the BBC World Service website.

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“The BBC and the Cold War”

A vintage radio from Kim Andre Elliott’s collection.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kris Partridge, who writes:

With Saturday being the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, BBC OnLine has posted this to commemorate the anniversary:

https://www.bbc.com/historyofthebbc/100-voices/coldwar

The Cold War was the defining global conflict of the second half of the Twentieth Century. Fought across multiple terrains, the “soft power” of international broadcasting placed the BBC on the frontline of the information war.To commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, we explore the role the BBC played in communicating our understanding and experience of the Cold War, with the help of newly-released oral history interviews with those involved.

Click here to view this collection of stories and memories at the BBC.

Thanks so much for sharing this, Kris!

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BBC Program: “London Calling: Cold War Letters”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David (G4EDR), who writes:

Looking forward to this documentary TV programme tonight. Looks like it will be about the BBC WS during the cold war.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000b1h0

Thanks for the tip, David!

Readers, my post is a bit late–David sent this two days ago. Still, the program is on the BBC website for a few more weeks, however it is very much geo-blocked so you’ll need a work-around if viewing from outside the UK.

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Eifeler Radiotage to broadcast from Cold War bunker

Photo source: Eifeler Radiotage

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gérard Koopal, who writes:

This might be interesting for your followers in Europe and especially for those living in or nearby Germany.

On the 9th and 10th of November, the Eifeler Radiotage are to start transmitting in German from a Cold War bunker in Germany. There is also a possibility to visit the location (Kall Krekel). Below is a link to their homepage where you can also find a few videos from the Cold War radio room which is still functional and in use.

https://www.eifeler-radiotage.de/

Thanks for the tip, Gérard!

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Platja de Pals: Once a Cold War “front line” for Radio Liberty

(Source: CNN via Tracy Wood)

(CNN) — It’s March 23, 1959. The radio waves crackle and broadcast begins: “Govorit Radio Svoboda” (??????? ????? ??????? – “This is Radio Liberty speaking…”)
From the other side of the Iron Curtain, the radio broadcasts of US-funded Radio Liberty reached deep inside the Soviet Union. This was an opening line destined to enter Cold War folklore.

What most of those clandestinely tuning in could not possible imagine is the unlikely location those broadcasts were coming from.

This quiet beach resort of Platja de Pals, Spain, tucked between the Mediterranean Sea and the greenery of pine groves and rice paddies, makes for an unlikely Cold War front line, but this is exactly the role it played for nearly half a century.

At this spot, some 150 kilometers north of Barcelona, Catalonia’s rugged Costa Brava opens up into a large bay lined by a long sandy beach, the perfect location for what was to be one of the most powerful broadcasting stations in the world.

Strategic location

In the mid-1950s, and after nearly two decades of international isolation for Francisco Franco’s Spanish dictatorship, the increasing tensions of the Cold War provided the background for a rapprochement between Spain and the United States.

In this new Cold War context, Washington took an interest in Spain’s strategic location. General Franco, himself a staunch anti-communist, was happy to oblige. In a landmark deal, the United States was provided with a string of bases on Spanish soil, while Franco’s dictatorship would see its relations with the West restored.

The setup of Radio Liberty’s broadcast station in Pals was a side effect of this new geostrategic reality.

From 1959 to 2006, this beach was home to 13 massive antennas (the largest of them 168 meters high, or more than half the size of the Eiffel Tower). This spot was favored not only because of the availability of space — the antennas were laid out in a mile-long line parallel to the shore — but also because it provided direct, unimpeded access to the sea. A physical phenomenon called tropospheric propagation makes it possible for radio waves to travel further over water.[…]

Click here to continue reading at CNN.

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