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While currently relocating to a building away from the center of Prague, since 1995, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has been headquartered in the former Czechoslovakian parliament building. The former President of Czechoslovakia, Vaclav Havel, invited the radios to move from Munich to Prague and occupy the parliament building for a symbolic dollar a year rent. This gesture of historical irony is especially appropriate in considering the history of international radio broadcasting: a building representative of Communism was converted into the headquarters for radio stations extolling the benefits of democratic media. This symbolic move signifies one of the paradoxes of the twentieth century: the United States, the major financial contributor to RFE/RL, profited from the broadcasting and ideological infrastructure developed by the Soviet Union, and the medium intended to unify and spread Communist goals was ultimately used against the system and contributed to the downfall of the regime. To examine this phenomenon, this paper will consider the beginnings of two forms of broadcasting: early Soviet and post-WWII programming by Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.


International and Area Studies