A Passion for Radio
Radio Waves and Community
How to Make an Echo... of Moscow
If a year ago someone had told me that the most prominent personalities in the world of
politics, diplomacy, the economy, science and culture, could be called upon to settle into
our microscopic studios in the heart of Moscow, I would have laughed very hard. Such
nice dreams. I wouldn’t have believed them at all.
Today I don’t laugh, because I’m well aware of its price. It’s not measured in
rubles or dollars, but in overworked days for our team of twenty-odd people, in sleepless
nights spent reflecting long and hard on free radio broadcasting in our country, and in our
small radio station in particular. How do you make an Echo of Moscow a free echo in a
country which isn’t, and among people who aren’t?
The fame and the almost worldwide interest which Echo of Moscow is now
enjoying, are no doubt connected to the events of August 1991, in Moscow. Events which
some term the “coup d’état” or the “putsch”, others call the “revolution,” while the third
and largest group refer to it as the “continuation of the eternal mess.” From August 19th
to 21st 1991, Echo of Moscow, cut off from its transmitter four times, was the only radio
station in Moscow to follow, broadcasting live, the vicissitudes of the “theatrical coup”
which appears to have brought profound changes to our country, the former Soviet
Union. I will come back to these three days after a small historical detour along the
winding roads of independent radio in Moscow.
2 / A Passion for Radio
THE DEVELOPMENT OF INDEPENDENT RADIO IN MOSCOW
As I write these lines, there is no law regulating the distribution of broadcast
frequencies for radio and television in the state of Russia. This law is foreseen for 1992.
But in 1990 – the year when the idea for our radio station began to take shape – the
Soviet State’s domination of television and radio broadcasting was absolute.
The first swallows announcing t