COLD WAR RADIO

The story begins around 1949 as Russia sets up satellite states all across Eastern Europe and CIA sets up a radio station that allow refugees to broadcast propaganda and rallying cries for freedom to their countrymen on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

This is the time of the completion of Soviet domination of East Europe, the Berlin airlift, American Care packages to Germany, and the Marshall Plan to renew Germany’s destroyed economy. Central, and Western Europe are physically divided by barbed wire, armed patrols, land mines and guard towers. In Eastern Europe, the Communist monopoly and censorship of media is absolute behind the Iron Curtain. The free flow of information is cut off, not only from the outside, but also internally.

Americans are exhausted and apathetic after World War II so Washington decides to call in experts from advertising and public affairs firms in New York to convince Americans of the danger of Communism. The U.S. Government doesn’t want the station to be linked with CIA, so a domestic campaign, the Crusade for Freedom, is created to persuade ordinary Americans, to contribute “Truth Dollars” to give the appearance of a spontaneous, popular, grass-roots initiative against the Communist threat.

In New York, radio spots, films, and television shows, jingles, slogans and songs convince Americans that they personally can do something about the threat of Communism, and millions of dollars are raised. Such iconic slogans as, Freedom Bell, Freedom Train, Freedom Hat, and Freedom Girl are used in media and outdoor advertising campaigns. Famous entertainment and media stars are recruited for one-minute radio spots.

In Munich, emigrĂ©s from Eastern Europe face intimidation, blackmail, threats of kidnapping, bombings, murder attempts, vitriolic denunciations from state-controlled media behind the Iron Curtain, and spies. Actions, in this case hostile actions, speak louder in the battle of ideas fought by East and West. For many, it was “The Worst of Times”, for others “The Best of Times.”

Series
Idea: Uwe Kersken
Coproduction: G5 fiction and Bavaria Fiction
Screenplay: Colin Teevan
Historical advisor: Richard Cummings (Radio Free Europe; "Crusade for Freedom")
Producer: Uwe Kersken & Moritz Polter