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Register of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty broadcast records
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Accruals
  • Alternate Forms Available
  • Other Institutions with Related Archival Materials
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Title: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty broadcast records
    Date (inclusive): 1951-2005
    Collection Number: 2000C120
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Archives
    Language of Material: Multiple languages
    Physical Description: circa 7000 linear feet
    Abstract: American radio broadcasting organization operating Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. Includes sound recordings of broadcasts, scripts, correspondence, and memoranda relating to broadcasts by Radio Free Europe to audiences in Eastern Europe and to broadcasts by Radio Liberty to audiences in the Soviet Union. Digital copies of select records also available at https://digitalcollections.hoover.org. 
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
    Creator: RFE/RL, Inc.


    Collection is open for research. Portions of the collection stored off site. Portions of the collection in process open only by request. Digital copies of select records also available at https://digitalcollections.hoover.org. 
    Boxes 1 to 4556 are stored off-site. It may be possible to have a limited number of boxes brought to the archives reading room for examination. A minimum of two days notice is required. Please contact the Hoover Institution Archives for information.
    Use copies of some sound recordings in the collection are available for immediate access. To listen to other sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.

    Publication Rights

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty broadcast records, [Box no.], Hoover Institution Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 2000.


    Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

    Alternate Forms Available

    Digital copies of select records also available at https://digitalcollections.hoover.org. 

    Other Institutions with Related Archival Materials

    Access to RFE/RL Russian Service sound recordings is handled by the Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives (OSA). They have a fully-searchable database available on their website at http://www.osaarchivum.org/digital-repository 
    Access to RFE/RL Polish Broadcasting Department sound recordings is handled by Polish Radio. They have a fully-searchable database available on their website at http://www.polskieradio.pl/68,Radia-Wolnosci 
    Access to Hungarian Broadcasting Department sound recordings is handled by the National Széchényi Library. The site Magyar Október, http://www.magyaroktober.hu/ , provides access to programs broadcast by Radio Free Europe between October 22 and November 12, 1956.
    Other institutions with collection materials related to RFE/RL include the following (click on the name of the institution for more information):

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The RFE/RL Broadcast Archive consists of the materials produced by RFE/RL for its radio programs. While the primary elements of this collection are tapes and scripts, arranged by broadcast department or language service, there is also a good deal of derivative and associated documentation created, received, or collected in the course of the daily functioning of the broadcasting service. Such documentation includes editorial and research files, program logs and broadcast schedules, special programs, work plans, program lists, listener mail, papers of individual employees collected or produced in the course of their duties, and other types of documentation.
    The most important set of such derivative documents is the Daily Broadcast Analyses (DBAs), which form the Daily Broadcast Analyses series. The DBAs were used by management and the broadcasting departments and language services to track the quality and content of programming. A special department, the Broadcasting Analysis Department, existed to collect data on programming and compile it into DBAs, which were then distributed to management and back to the appropriate desks. In the collection, they are arranged according to the category of origin: Radio Free Afghanistan, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Europe Baltic, Radio Liberty Nationality Services, Radio Liberty Russian Service. The RFE DBAs contain texts of all the services and departments together for each day. DBAs were not issued every day, so the collection contains gaps. A separate category of translated scripts or parts of scripts is also part of the DBA series and listed at its end.
    The Albanian Monitoring Subsection Records series consists of the papers of one of its employees, Nicolo Prenushi. An Albanian Language Service as such existed for a brief period of time in the early 1950s, leaving only the Monitoring Subsection thereafter.
    The Azerbaijani Service Records series contains scripts and other materials, primarily collected writings and research files created by the service chief, Mirza Michaeli.
    The Bulgarian, Czechslovak, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, and Slovak Broadcast Departments and Services series contain similar material, arranged by physical form and chronologically thereafter, but it should be cited by date as the box numbers will change.
    Many early scripts and programs are available only on microfilm. There is a register for these in a binder available in the Archives reading room, labeled "Programs on Microfilm," covering primarily the 1950s.
    The News and Current Affairs Department Records series contains the news budget, which includes reports from wire agencies and other sources on events during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and Prague Spring of 1968, as well as certain other topics. The series also contains scripts – printed versions of news events and interviews as read by announcers – with sound bites of the event, speech, or interview on audio tapes.
    The Sound Recordings series consists of broadcast recordings, monitoring recordings, off-air recordings, and music recordings. Broadcast recordings of RFE/RL broadcasts were captured either in the studio or direct from a transmitter. They constitute the defining record of what RFE/RL committed to air. Typical content includes news reports, interviews, speeches, sermons, dramatic programming, and music. Monitoring recordings represent radio broadcasts other than RFE/RL that were monitored on a radio in the RFE/RL office and recorded to tape. Off-air recordings are raw captures of interviews, speeches, literary readings, music performances, etc. that would have been edited for use on future broadcasts. Music recordings are predominantly commercially issued popular, classical, and folk releases collected for on-air play; they are sometimes called a service’s “music library.” It is important to note that music related broadcast programming, such as the Romanian Broadcasting Department’s “Metronome” program, are considered broadcast recordings since they contain whole programs as they were heard on air.
    While part of the larger whole, each language service operated independently, with different practices regarding programming logs, the labeling of tapes, etc. Nearly all services reused tapes in an effort to conserve resources, particularly in the early years. Consequently, it is not uncommon for a language service to be missing sound recordings in multi-year spans, in some cases with significant gaps on the order of decades. Scripts are generally a more complete resource than recordings, which are usually scattered across time; scripts of early RFE programming are available on microfilm or paper even when no recordings may exist. Scripts are also available for many of the extant broadcast recordings and can serve as an index to their content. If an item of interest is found in a script, the date of that script can be used to search for a sound recording of the same date. This is the most convenient way to approach the recordings, as most have not been indexed for content. In some cases, as with the Polish service, a database can be used to find appropriate sound recordings.
    From its earliest days through August 1995, when the radios adopted logging media to record all transmitters at once, nearly all recorded sound produced or recorded by RFE/RL was captured on ¼” open reel tape. Exceptions include an early set of Crusade for Freedom recordings on lacquer disc and particular services capturing limited broadcast runs, raw interview footage, and/or varying production elements on cassette and cartridge tape. Cassette, DAT and MiniDisc served this same purpose in the years following 1995.
    From August 24, 1995 through October 31, 2006, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty committed its broadcast recordings to multi-channel logging media. Recordings of programs broadcast August 24, 1995 through August 26, 1999 are saved on VHS tapes encoded using Racal Wordsafe machines while recordings broadcast September 25, 1999 through October 31, 2006 are on DDS tapes encoded using an RCS Tracker system. Both systems recorded multiple concurrent tracks of audio, capturing on one tape the content of several different transmitters. The Racal Wordsafe system captured twelve concurrent tracks, each 25 hours in duration, meaning each tape has the potential to hold 300 hours of content. Tape is not the only storage mechanism for audio recorded using the RCS Tracker system – it created audio files independent of tape, to be saved in whatever manner the user preferred – however tape (DDS in this case) was the method chosen by RFE/RL. Each tape contains upward of eight concurrent tracks; multiple decks operated simultaneously, affording the capture of all operating transmitters. The reader should note that, for inventory purposes, tapes from this period are counted as single physical items despite containing multiple recordings from different language services. Consequently, the sound recordings from this era – see the Multiple Language Services Sound Recordings series description – constitute 6,809 physical items rather than the 55,800 audio recordings.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Radio Free Europe.
    Radio Liberty (Munich, Germany)
    Radio broadcasting--Europe, Eastern.
    Radio broadcasting--Soviet Union.