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Red Tape: Radio and Politics in Czechoslovakia 1945-1969

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.

About Rosamund Johnston

Rosamund Johnston is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Vienna. She is the author of Red Tape: Radio and Politics in Czechoslovakia, 1945-1969, published by Stanford University Press. She has also authored one book of public history, Havel in America: Interviews with American Intellectuals, Politicians, and Artists, released by Czech publisher Host in 2019. Her work has also appeared in Central European History, the Journal of Cold War Studies, East Central Europe, Harvard Ukrainian Studies, Scottish newspaper The National, on public broadcaster Czech Radio, and in the NCSML’s own Slovo magazine. Between 2009 and 2013, she was the oral history project coordinator at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. She is currently researching the global history of Czechoslovakia between 1954 and 1994 through its arms trade.


March 9
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
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National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library
1400 Inspiration Pl SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404 United States
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