Straightening up a fact

Last month, pointlessly trying to counter the standard notions about Soviet vs US, I wrote:

While Stalin was alive, Soviets had no physical way to listen to the West. Instead of tunable radios, all citizens had Muzak speakers hard-wired to the official cable system. They could choose from two or three official channels. Anyone who built or bought a real shortwave receiver was in serious trouble. After Stalin died, info restrictions loosened up gradually, but Russians weren’t fully free to listen until the ’80s.

As usual, I was still too far inside the standard notions. has some pix of Moscow in 1965. This picture shows a crowded dingy one-room apartment. Definitely not Inner Party. The centerpiece of the apt is a serious 6-band shortwave receiver. It seems to be Hallicrafters style, but it doesn’t match any actual Hallicrafters units I can google. So the above paragraph needs to say ’60s, not ’80s.

Nope, still too far inside the old cliches!  This article clarifies the history. Every house and apt had the Muzak-style cable connection, but real radios were allowed in the late ’50s. The limiting factor was cost, not legality. The author grew up there, and remembers wondering why people would want an expensive radio when the cable system was available for free.

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