What does 'radiofree' mean?

Darn–I wasted my entire post in the subject line!
But really, what does it mean?

Usually, a tip o’ the hat (often ironic) to
Radio Free Europe, which broadcast anti-communist propaganda during the Cold War.


I’m old, so I may have missed some recent cultural expression. The only “Radio Free” that I remember were the various clear-channel broadcasting stations aimed at Iron Curtain countries, the most famous of which was Radio Free Europe.

The name in that context was that Eastern Europe was enslaved, but through the broadcasts, the people could hear unfiltered and uncensored news and music, minus the overwhelming ruling party propaganda, and could attain a certain freedom through the radio. (Under Reagan, those stations suffered severe pressure to become a proganda mill for the U.S., but I believe they were generally successful in resisting that pressure.)

Uh, it’s well-documented that the whole operation was funded by the CIA from the get-go. (ie, the beginning of the 1950’s.) Here’s a cite from Stanford University.

So, IMO, they were a propaganda mill for the US, by definition.

That being said, ideologically, Radio Free Europe’s brand of propaganda was certainly preferable to Pravda!

CIA or not, the news reports they broadcast, as evaluated by the BBC and the French and Italian media, were very even-handed, reporting on crimes and ecological disasters and political shenanigans and international diplomatic faux pas regarding the U.S. and its allies as they occurred.

Before the Reaganites got hold of the government, the CIA recognized that if they simply broadcast propaganda, their audiences would treat RFE and its sisters the way that U.S. troops reacted to Tokyo Rose and Lord Haw Haw. By broadcasting even-handed, warts-and-all reports year after year, they established a voice that the audience grew to trust. I am not claiming that no news was ever slanted, (I don’t know any news agency that is staffed by Vulcans to carry that off), but RFE was not a simple propaganda machine.

It was a news broadcast service, and a good one.

Originally posted my tomndeb**

My boyfriend gave me a shirt that says, “Radiofree Virgin” on it, and I have no idea what it means.
I’m assuming something like modern radio is being compared to the propaganda radio of back in the day, and because I’m one of those emo music geeks who only listens to the college radio stations and NPR, I’m a radiofree (America) virgin.

Is that right?

I think it all goes back to Radio Free Europe, although now it’s more of a “sounds cool” reason than a “radio free defines a specific agenda” reason.

Some recent examples:

  • Radio Free Durham, WUNH 91.3 FM (pathetic plug, I was a jock here in my college days)

  • Radio Free Hawaii (KEDO?). No longer in existence (I think), but this was the absolute coolest station ever to exist. It matched my rambling musical tastes perfectly. You would here Tool, followed by Sinatra, followed by Marley, followed by Pachabel, etc.) The playlists were based on listener ballots and any format worked. I so miss that station.

  • Radio Free OpalCat.

In NYC you have the right to a ‘radio free’ taxi ride.
Radio Free Virgin I think is a play on words from Radio Free Europe.

Sorry to cut short what might be some interesting speculations, but you might want to check out:


It is basically an on-line broadcasting facility of Virgin Records.

(I know, I know, “Darn spoilsport!”)

You can check out the Radio Free Virgin website, though I don’t know if this has anything to do with your t-shirt.

Zebra is probably right that it is a play on Radio Free Europe, but it may be a play on REM’s song “Radio Free Europe” rather than a direct reference to the broadcast.

There are also Radio Free zones near (50 Mile radius) some Radio telescopes. In that light it means that no radio transmitter is allowed to be operated in that area.

I think it’s like normal Radio, only without the caffeine.