In socialist Eastern Europe, radio simultaneously produced state power and created the conditions for it to be challenged. As the dominant form of media in Czechoslovakia from 1945 until 1969, Communist officials, broadcast journalists, and audiences used radio technologies and institutions to negotiate questions of citizenship and rights. Rosamund Johnston will reconstruct the relationship between radio reporters and the listeners who liked and trusted them while recognizing that they produced both propaganda and entertainment. By focusing on listeners’ feedback, captured in thousands of pieces of fan mail, she will show how a non-democratic society established, stabilized, and reproduced itself.
Johnston argues that all media is social media. As such, a study of socialist radio holds important lessons for those seeking to understand current fake news debates and the Facebook and X politics of our own time.