|Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty|
RFE/RL official logo
RFE/RL Broadcast Region 2009
|Motto||Free Media in Unfree Societies|
|Formation||1949 (Radio Free Europe), 1953 (Radio Liberty), 1976 (merger)|
|Type||private, non-profit Sec 501(c)3 corporation|
|Headquarters||Prague Broadcast Center|
|Location||Prague, Czech Republic|
|Official languages||English. Programs are also available in Albanian, Armenian, Arabic, Avar, Azerbaijani, Bashkir, Bosnian, Belarusian, Chechen, Circassian, Crimean Tatar, Dari, Georgian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Pashto, Persian, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Tajik, Tatar, Turkmen, Ukrainian, Uzbek|
|Parent organization||Broadcasting Board of Governors|
|Budget||$83,161,000 (FY 08)|
Radio Free EuropeRadio Free Europe was created and grew in its early years through the efforts of the National Committee for a Free Europe (NCFE), a US anti-communist organization that was formed in New York City in 1949. The committee was composed of an "A list" of powerful U.S. citizens including former ambassador and first NCFE chairman Joseph Grew; Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Allen Dulles; Reader's Digest owner Dewitt Wallace; former diplomat and the co-founder of Public Opinion Quarterly Dewitt Clinton Poole; and prominent New York investment banker Frank Altschul.
Its mission was to support the refugees and provide them with a useful outlet for their opinions and creativity. The NCFE divided its program into three parts: exile relations, radio, and American contacts. Although exile relations were initially its first priority, Radio Free Europe (RFE) became the NCFE's greatest legacy.
RFE was developed out of a belief that the Cold War would eventually be fought by political rather than military means. American policymakers such as George Kennan and John Foster Dulles acknowledged that the Cold War was essentially a war of ideas. The United States, acting through the CIA, funded a long list of projects to counter the Communist appeal among intellectuals in Europe and the developing world.
RFE was modeled after Radio in the American Sector (RIAS) a U.S. government-sponsored radio service initially intended for Germans living in the American sector of Berlin (but more widely listened to in East Germany). Staffed almost entirely by Germans with minimal U.S. supervision, the station provided free media to German listeners. In order to establish a broadcast presence in Europe like RIAS, the NCFE began an extensive fundraising effort known as the "Crusade for Freedom". The bulk of its RFE initial funding, however, came from the CIA. In January 1950 the NCFE obtained a transmitter base at Lampertheim, West Germany and on July 4 of the same year RFE completed its first broadcast aimed at Czechoslovakia.
 Teams of journalists were hired for each language service and an elaborate system of intelligence gathering provided up-to-date broadcast material. Most of this material came from a network of well-connected emigres and interviews with travelers and defectors. RFE did not use paid agents inside the Iron Curtain and based its bureaus in regions popular with exiles. RFE also extensively monitored Communist bloc publications and radio services, creating an impressive body of information that would later serve as a resource for the CIA and other government organizations.
In addition to its regular broadcasts RFE was also known for its balloon operation (1951–1956), a project that involved dropping anti-Communist propaganda from balloons. Meteorological balloons were stuffed with leaflets and floated over the Iron Curtain into Eastern Europe. The nature of the leaflets varied, and included messages of support and encouragement to citizens suffering under communist oppression, satirical criticisms of communist regimes and leaders, information about dissident movements and human rights campaigns, and messages expressing the solidarity of the American people with the residents of Eastern European nations. The project served as a publicity tool to solidify RFE's reputation as an anti-communist broadcaster.
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