Cold War Radio


Cold War Radio

The Russian Broadcasts of the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Mark G. Pomar

344 pages
15 photographs, 2 illustrations, index


October 2022


$34.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2022


$34.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2022


$34.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Cold War Radio is a fascinating look at how the United States waged the Cold War through the international broadcasting of Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). Mark G. Pomar served in senior positions at VOA and RFE/RL from 1982 to 1993, during which time the Reagan and Bush administrations made VOA and RFE/RL an important part of their foreign policy.

VOA is America’s “national voice,” broadcasting in more than forty languages, and is charged with explaining U.S. government policies and telling America’s story with the aim of gaining the respect and goodwill of its target audience. During the Cold War, the VOA Russian Service broadcast twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

RFE/RL is a private corporation, funded until 1971 by the CIA and afterward through open congressional appropriations. It broadcast in more than twenty languages of Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia and functioned as a “home service” located abroad. Its Russian Service broadcast news, feature programming, and op-eds that would have been part of daily political discourse if Russia had free media.

Pomar takes readers inside the two radio stations to show how the broadcasts were conceived and developed and the impact they had on international broadcasting, U.S.-Soviet relations, Russian political and cultural history, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Pomar provides nuanced analysis of the broadcasts and sheds light on the multifaceted role the radios played during the Cold War, ranging from instruments of U.S. Cold War policy to repositories of independent Russian culture, literature, philosophy, religion, and the arts.

Cold War Radio breaks new ground as Pomar integrates his analysis of Cold War radio programming with the long-term aims of U.S. foreign policy, illuminating the role of radio in the peaceful end of the Cold War.

Author Bio

Mark G. Pomar is a senior fellow at the Clements Center for National Security and an adjunct lecturer in the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. He is a former assistant director of the Russian Service at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, director of the USSR Division at the Voice of America, and executive director of the Board for International Broadcasting, a federal agency. He served as president and CEO of IREX, an organization that administers programs in education, public policy, and media, and was the founding CEO and president of the U.S.-Russia Foundation in Moscow.


"[Cold War Radio is an] insightful, absorbing account."—Martha Bayles, Wall Street Journal

"Mark Pomar's stellar career in the Soviet and post-Soviet world makes him an ideal teller of this compelling story."—Eric Rubin, Foreign Service Journal

"Today, there are many calls for the United States to revive its political warfare capabilities and respond to challenges from China, Russia, and elsewhere. Cold War Radio is the first study policymakers should consult."—Gregory Mitrovich, Russian Review

"Mark Pomar's book Cold War Radio . . . is, in my view, the first serious attempt at an unbiased presentation of the World War II and Cold War-era history of the U.S. government-funded and managed Voice of America (VOA) radio broadcasting."—Tadeusz "Ted" Lipien, Ted's From America Newsletter

“This well-researched, well-written book couldn’t be more timely and important. Not only does it show how the wide-ranging, oft-sophisticated programming of these stations played a critical role in undermining the Soviet Union, it also gives a needed appreciation of Russian history and culture. Very crucially, you’ll understand that while Putin’s rise was not inevitable, it did combine very real elements of Russia’s past.”—Steve Forbes, editor of Forbes magazine and former chair of the Board for International Broadcasting

“Mark Pomar is almost unique in his length of service and variety of roles and experiences on the inside of U.S. international broadcasting. He has ‘made the sausage’ and seen it made from many angles. Pomar’s critique of the Soviet system and some aspects of Russian behavior is infused with respect for Russia that reflects a certain optimism that, for all its faults and challenges, Russia is a country with enormous potential for growth and improvement.”—Jeffrey Trimble, former deputy director of the Broadcasting Board of Governors and former assistant managing editor and Moscow bureau chief at U.S. News & World Report

“Mark Pomar’s book provides an important piece of the Cold War history puzzle. It’s media, politics, culture, and the story of the war of ideas told by someone who was on the inside—a useful and important book for students, historians, and policymakers.”—Jeffrey Gedmin, CEO and editor in chief of American Purpose

“Of all the books that have been written about Cold War broadcasting this trenchant analysis by Mark Pomar of the Russian language programs of Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is the first of its kind. It provides invaluable insights into what actually went on the air. It deftly compares and contrasts the Russian language program content of VOA and RFE/RL and confirms their essential complementary roles in Cold War broadcasting to the USSR.”—R. Eugene Parta, author of Discovering the Hidden Listener: An Assessment of Radio Liberty and Western Broadcasting to the USSR During the Cold War

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations




1. Setting the Stage

2. The Reagan Revolution

3. Human Rights

4. Culture and the Arts

5. History

6. Solzhenitsyn

7. Religion

8. Glasnost

9. Victory Lap

10. Reflections

A Note on Sources


Select Bibliography


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