Listening out : Cold War radio and the Soviet audience + A colourful past : the January 2015 Slavonic item of the month  

This post combines the bibliographical notes for 2015’s first CamCREES seminar – Dr Kristin Roth-Ey’s talk on non-Soviet radio (and particularly Seva Novgorodsev’s BBC programmes) broadcast into the USSR – with January’s Slavonic item of the month, Namedni, illustrated guides to international and domestic developments, in various fields, particularly significant to the 1946-2010 Soviet/Russian population.

Novgorodsev's autobiography,

Novgorodsev’s autobiography covering his pre-emigration years (C203.d.5258)

This term, the CamCREES seminars are linked by the theme of Russian and Soviet mass culture.  In the first seminar of 2015, Dr Roth-Ey of UCL SSEES spoke about Soviet audiences of targeted non-Soviet radio programmes.  Listening to such broadcasts was not straightforward – frequencies were sometimes officially jammed, for example (examples of jamming noises were played from, and coverage was unreliable.

Of the many stations and programmes which broadcast into the Soviet Union, Dr Roth-Ey focused in particular on the BBC shows of the Russian émigré Seva Novgorodsev (his preferred spelling, which I use throughout this post; more standard transliteration from the Russian would be Novgorodtsev).  These are known mainly by the name Rok-posevy, one of various titles of his broadcast over the years.  While national stations played “approved” music, Novgorodsev introduced his vast audiences to all kinds of groups from the West.  Another major part of the appeal of Rok-posevy was the presenter himself.  Soviet presenters were trained to be uniform in their calm and contained diction; Novgorodsev capitalised on being able to convey his personality.  His was a much more personal connection with his audience, and he standardly read fan mail received from the USSR out on air and played requests. Continue reading