Vera & Donald Blinken Open Society Archives
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Hungarian Radio Monitoring
The collection contains digital copies of 1,072 verbatim transcripts of daily news programs broadcast on two Hungarian state radio stations, Kossuth and Petőfi, from January 1, 1988 to December 31, 1990. The transcripts were prepared by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Hungarian Monitoring Unit, and include brief summaries and supplementary information on the broadcasts themselves. Focusing on prominent daily news and magazine programs about the most important issues of the day in international and domestic politics, economics, and culture, the transcripts documented significant events in Hungary in order to ensure editors of the Hungarian Broadcasting Desk, as well as other RFE/RL editors and departments were kept as fully up-to-date as possible.
The Hungarian Monitoring Unit started operating in October 1951 in Munich, and monitored Hungarian state radio stations until the closure of the Hungarian Broadcasting Desk on October 31, 1993. From the outset, the Unit intended to monitor and record both Kossuth and Petőfi Radio. However, because American armed forces radio broadcast at a wavelength very close to that of Petőfi, the Unit had to abandon its aim of around-the-clock monitoring, and instead recorded only early morning and late evening programs.
Recordings of program blocs were processed immediately after broadcast, and thus an average of 20 hours of radio broadcasts were transcribed and handed over to the editors the next day. Certain programs, such as programs of particular political or economic relevance or New Year’s Eve broadcasts, were usually included or repeated in the next day’s transcripts or in special editions. The transcripts were prepared and copied seven days a week; in the mid-1970s, one daily issue was about 30-50 pages long, which grew to nearly 100 pages by 1990.