GOVORIT RADIO SVOBODA
Radio Liberty speaks... These were
always the first words a radio listener in Russia would hear as an
introduction to all programming in that language transmitted from Radio
Liberty's Platja de Pals station. I use these very same words as my own
introduction in paying last respects to the BEST Radio Station
in the entire world.
Since its set up, and for many years thereafter, the installation in Platja de Pals was the most powerful radio station in the whole world. Sadly, and principally due to political and jealousy reasons, on 25 May 2001, at 10:00 a.m., local time, the Radio Liberty Playa de Pals international broadcast facility was shut down. The station, consisting of six short-wave transmitters and multiple high-gain curtain antennas, served as the "flagship" of U.S. efforts to successfully deliver a message of hope and freedom to the U.S.S.R. and other "Iron Curtain" countries. Mikhaïl Gorbatxov admitted that during the Russian coup d'état of the mid-90s when he found himself a virtual prisoner in his luxury villa in the Crimea, he was able to remain connected to the outside world using a small radio. Gorbatxov kept himself informed on what was happening in his own country by listening to the broadcasts of Radio Liberty from Platja de Pals.
Canalparadís.net filmed a documentary about Radio Liberty, and especially about the Pals station. In Spain, it has already been broadcasted. It can be watched here in English or here in English, but full subtitled.
The idea of building a station in this place was born in 1955, after several exhaustive studies made of different countries and zones by the American Committee for Liberation (AMCOMLIB), a U.S. organization with the mission of delivering a message of hope to nations enslaved by Communism. The reasons for choosing this place, located in Platja de Pals (Costa Brava-Girona-Spain), at 41º 59’ North, 3º 12’ East, were many. Principally, the station's 540-foot towers holding antenna curtains right at the sea's edge provided a perfect launching site for short-wave signals. The carefully chosen location, the open seaside vista, and the perfect reflecting medium provided by the sea water, ascertained signals bounced off the ionosphere only ONCE before reaching those important targets in the USSR and other Iron Curtain countries with practically no attenuation.
measuring 333.500m2 of land was purchased by the U.S. Government in
1958, paying 46.116,10€ (1,00 € = about $1,00), a large sum at the
time which nowadays (2006) could be about $4.000.000,00 and registering it in the Spanish Government's
name. Radio Liberty paid $285.000 as rent annually. In 1958, construction began, laying the first building
and antenna foundations, and building roadways through uninhabited
areas to provide access to the station. Finally, on March 28th, 1959 at
3:05 a.m., local time, a Telefunken transmitter made the first
broadcast from the station. This transmitter used a temporary rhombic
antenna, derived its power from a diesel-driven generator, and was
protected by canvas because the building was still unfinished.
On March 22, 2006 at 03:56 pm local time, the antennas field was destroyed remaining exactly 11 hours and 09 minutes for the 47th anniversary of its first emission.
many stations similar to the one at Playa de Pals around the world.
Americans often referred to this chain of stations as “the
Radios”. In Germany, for example, there are(or were) three; one in Greece;
one in Morocco and more in many other countries. Some of these also
have Russia as a “target area” but not one of them was able to provide
the “blanket” coverage of the USSR available from Pals. The advantage
of the Pals location stemmed mainly from the fact that radio-frequency
signals launched from here, striking the ionosphere, were bent
downwards to fall on Moscow or Kiev on first bounce when short-wave
signals are strongest. Thereafter, all subsequent
earth-ionosphere-earth bounces of the same signal, attenuated somewhat
to be sure, nevertheless always fell on Russian-speaking soil whereas
signals from other stations had even second bounces falling on
uninhabited lands or into the sea. This is probably the reason why the
USSR had so much difficulty jamming signals from Pals and at no time
during the entire Cold War succeeded completely.
existence of the station was well-accepted by adjoining communities
even when it was rumored that missiles were housed in the station; or
that anyone could die if he/she walked in front of the aerials. Another
said that coded messages were sent to spies. The first two are not
true, but the last one could be. I ignore it, but it is a possibility
since it is well-known that this particular network of stations was
initially promoted by the CIA. It started as AMCOMLIB, (American
Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism), then it was Radio Liberty,
and later it became Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. In its final
years, starting in 1995, the station found itself under the direction
of IBB/VOA (International Broadcasting Bureau/ Voice of America).
Iron Curtain came down, when the Berlin Wall fell, when the USSR
imploded, the first taste of “freedom” came to many nations to which
Pals, for years, had broadcast that message of hope and freedom.
Russia, for example, permitted the U.S. to install local FM and
Medium-wave stations inside its borders, within the very country that
only months earlier had been jamming our broadcasts! Now much of
that same equipment was being used for broadcasting Radio Liberty
programs to its own people. But this openness on the part of the
Russian Government seems to have been short-lived. In October 2002, the
Kremlin began closing some of these radio stations. In June 2003, the
Russian government also closed down the only private non-government
owned TV network in Russia. On December
31, 2015 any foreign
Liberty's broadcasts included.
On December 31, 2015
any foreign station, Radio Liberty's broadcasts included.
The Voice of America (VOA) is an organization that is part of the U.S. Government while Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is a private organization funded and subsidized by the United States Congress. Perhaps because funding for the operation of both networks comes from the same “pot”, RFE/RL and VOA are cast as rivals. They fight for the same money and for the same broadcast audiences. Again, perhaps, because the VOA has had closer ties to its government and its bureaucracy, it seems VOA is winning the battle of U.S. broadcasting supremacy. First the BBG/IBB (formerly VOA) shut down and closed two (2) RFE/RL short-wave stations in Portugal, followed soon afterwards by the Spanish station in Pals. Next on their close-down list are theese other, known in 2007 as well as in Morocco, Greece (both from VOA) and others, one by one were closed. Former manager David L.Hollyer published in 2003, this report.
Also, a retired manager tried to save our station sending this letter to President Bush, but it seems the station no longer had any importance for the U.S. Government.
- On Youtube you can find all the videos related to Radio Liberty Pals
- I will appreciate very much if you let me know any problem or error while surfing this web.
- Any suggestion, criticism or comment will be welcome.
- Ex-companions and web's visitors collaborated by lending me almost all the photos and great ideas for improvements.
- Thanks to all of them.
- Due to the large bit-size of the pictures, they had to be compressed with an unfortunate loss of quality.