Papa’s Got A New Corporate Identity

by Nathan Hamm on 3/31/2005 · 4 comments

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is changing things up.

The torch replaces the Freedom Bell, which was RFE/RL’s logo for more than half a century. It now enters the history books along with the radios of the Cold War days that it symbolized. That history — in truckloads of tapes and documents — was donated to the Hoover Institution archives at Stanford University, California, and is being processed as a record of the ideological fight against Communism in the second half of the 20th century.

It starts with an account of how Radio Free Europe (RFE) came to take the bell as its symbol. It was not, as some people mistakenly believe, America’s famously cracked Liberty Bell. The origins of RFE’s logo are a 10-ton bell especially made in the British foundry Gillett and Johnston and decorated with a frieze of five figures representing the five races of mankind passing the torch of freedom. It arrived in New York in 1949 and traveled to 21 cities in the United States as part of the “Crusade for Freedom” drive to raise money to found and promote Radio Free Europe. More than 16 million Americans responded with contributions and RFE and its bell logo were born. Instead of the five figures, the RFE bell logo had a vertical divide into a darker and lighter side, generally interpreted as the divide between the democratic West and the communist East. But for many years now, Europe has been whole and almost free and both the dividing line and the bell have lost their meaning. The original Freedom Bell was permanently installed in West Berlin in 1950. Few people today know where it is, why it is there, and what it represents.

So, the torch of freedom.

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This post was written by...

– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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Laurence March 31, 2005 at 10:06 am

Why do you call RFE/RL “Papa”?

Nathan March 31, 2005 at 10:14 am

Nod to “Papa’s got a Brand New Bag”

Just channeling my inner James Brown. 🙂

Tatyana March 31, 2005 at 10:45 am

I’d say an unfortunate idea, could be confused with Olimpic symbolics.

Tim Newman April 1, 2005 at 12:04 am

It’s a similar symbol to that of the inept UK Conservative Party, but with the equally inept colours of the Liberal Democrat Party.

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