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Radio World Highlights RFE/RL President's Capitol Hill Testimony

Should That Be 'Twitter Free Europe'?

Radio World
Posted by Paul McLane at 07/23/2009 05:35:02 PM |

It's all about "smart power, smart radio" these days at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

President/CEO Jeffrey Gedmin told lawmakers on Capitol Hill today that the organization represents "smart power at its best." He also said the organization is making use of modern media tools. "As technology has moved forward, RFE/RL has not stood still. Today, we have state-of-the-art Web sites and video content. We use text messaging, Facebook and Twitter to interact with our audiences -- and to allow them to interact with each other."

He noted that three years ago, RFE/RL had 27 affiliate partners throughout the Russian Federation, while now that number is seven, with most having been lost "due to political pressure." However, he said, "We don't intend to give up on radio" there. Gedmin also said that surveys show Radio Free Afghanistan to be "the most trusted source of news in the country, reaching nearly 50% of the adult population." And poignantly, he said that in the last two years alone the organization has had two colleagues murdered, three kidnapped and several beaten. "Numerous others have been threatened. Some are subjected to financial blackmail."

It's intriguing to reflect on how that organization's mission has evolved. You can read Gedmin's comments to the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, including a brief discussion of its new six-story, highly secure headquarters in Prague, here in PDF form.