Viewpoint: Radio 1212 by Dr. Larry Burriss



     I’m almost afraid to ask this, but how many of you have heard of Radio 1212 Luxembourg? Probably none of you. And why is that?  Well, it was part of a conspiracy. A real, honest-to-goodness conspiracy. A real black operation.
     You’ve heard of them. All those conspiracy theories about the government trying to mess with our minds.

Radio 1212 or Nachtsender 1212 was a black propaganda radio station operated from 1944 to 1945 by the Psychological Warfare Branch of the US Office of War Information (OWI) under the direction of CBS radio chief William S. Paley, who was based in London. Nachtsender 1212 broadcast from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg using the former commercial radio facilities known as Radio Luxembourg, which had been occupied and then liberated from German control during World War II. Contents (Source: Wikipedia)

Except they used to be called “psychological operations,” and were more often than not hiding in plain sight.


Following the D-Day invasion, the facilities of Radio Luxembourg were turned over to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, which broadcast information and entertainment of interest to allied troops.



But the at night a strange transformation took place. Radio Luxembourg signed off, and something called Radio 1212 began broadcasting from the same studios, but at a different frequency, at that time 1,212 kilocycles.
     Radio 1212 was allegedly a radio station deep inside Germany. When the station first went on the air, in late 1944, it aired pro-Nazi news and entertainment, and the idea was to build trust in the station. But then, as the allies advanced across Europe, subtle changes in the programming began to emerge. There were stories of a Germany town that rebelled against the Reich.

The BBC European Service control room in London, 1943, provided counter-propaganda throughout the war. Photo by Felix Man/Picture Post/Getty Images

There was a German mayor who implored the radio station to ask for assistance from the Americans.
     The station was, allegedly, forced to sign off the air in early 1945 when it was captured by American forces.
     But it was all a hoax, under the direction of William Paley, later to be the head of the CBS broadcast network. But for now, working in psychological warfare operations in the Office of War Information.
     In fact, so successful was the operation, a Swedish newspaper reported non-existent resistance groups under the direction of Radio 1212 were forming around Hamburg, Munich and Bremen. So maybe they really were. Or maybe not.
   Black ops? Conspiracies? Psychological warfare? Remember, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t watching and following you.
     I’m Larry Burriss.

Larry Burriss, a professor in Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Mass Communication and president of the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame, welcomes the crowd before the induction ceremonies at the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters conference in Murfreesboro for the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)