During the cold war, for millions of people behind the Iron Curtain, the uncensored broadcasts of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty provided news within and about their countries that wasn't covered by government-controlled outlets.
Today, millions more in Afghanistan, Iran, Serbia, and other countries continue to rely on the Radios for news about what is happening in their countries, unfettered by local government controls. Thomas Dine, president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), spoke recently of its importance: "RFE/RL is not a cold war relic, but a modern media organization communicating to the world's most unstable hotspots."
In Voices of Hope: The Story of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, the Hoover Library and Archives cover this often controversial effort by the United States government to reach listeners with news about their countries and promote democracy from its beginnings to today.
For the exhibit, the Hoover Library and Archives drew on their stored 80,000 radio broadcasts to bring history alive. Listening stations are set up for visitors to hear sound bites from notable events from history, such as
- John Steinbeck remembering John F. Kennedy
- Appeals made to other nations at the UN while Soviet tanks invaded Prague
- Ronald Reagan's broadcast to the Soviets after they shot down a Korean jet liner
In addition, photographs, papers, and other documents revealing how the RFE/RL was able to reach its listeners and the efforts made to disrupt their broadcasts, from jamming transmissions to murder, are on display.
The 20,000 boxes of RFE/RL records in the archives are being mined by an international team of scholars. As expected, their research is resulting in a more accurate picture of the cold war. In addition they are determining from the documentation just which techniques succeeded in creating essentially a surrogate free press in repressive regimes.
The exhibit will be in the Herbert Hoover Memorial Exhibit Pavilion from September 28 to December 17. The Exhibit Pavilion, located at the Hoover Institution on the Stanford University campus, adjacent to Hoover Tower, is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 AM through 4 PM. For additional information, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives, 650-723-3563 or www.hoover.org/hila. Group tours are available.
The Hoover Institution, founded at Stanford University in 1919 by Herbert Hoover, who went on to become the 31st president of the United States, is an interdisciplinary research center for advanced study on domestic public policy and international affairs, with an internationally renowned library and archives.