Wednesday, November 29, 2017


You have probably have heard about the Russian radio invasion of our nation’s capitol. 

Now details are emerging about why this is happening. Russian owned Radio Sputnik, just added a second station in the Washington, DC market.

AM 1390 Daytime Coverage

Radio Insight [link] and Tom Taylor NOW [link] are reporting that Sputnik has completed a deal to rebroadcast its programming on WZHF AM 1390, based in suburban Capitol Heights, Maryland. 

During daytime hours, AM 1390 blankets almost the entire DC metro area (coverage map on the right).  AM 1390’s nighttime coverage area is considerably smaller.

105.5 Coverage Area

In July, Sputnik entered the DC market when they leased time on a Reston, Virginia FM translator which provides a solid signal to the central city at 105.5 FM (coverage map on the right).

Sputnik programming replaced Bluegrass Country on 105.5 FM.

What causes American broadcasters to play ball with Sputnik? 

It is all about the money – Russian Rubles converted to American Dollars.

Details have now emerged that Sputnik is paying the owner of FM 105.5, DC communications attorney John Garzigulia, $900,000 in the next two years. 

Every month a check for $30,000 arrives in Garzigula’s bank account. In return, the Russian get a 24/7 broadcast signal in Washington, DC. The amount was disclosed in a Foreign Agent Registration Statement.

It is not known how much money Sputnik is paying the owners of WZHF AM 1390 to lease their signal.  Observers are speculating that the amount is twice as much as Sputnik is paying Garzigulia for leasing 05.5 FM.

The transaction violates no US law at this time. The Russian funding is fully disclosed on-air and elsewhere. With only a few limitations, US broadcaster can air what they want to and make as much money that they can.

The Radio Sputnik deals are important because they are strikingly similar to Russian co-opting of Facebook and Twitter during the run up to the 2016 election. In both cases, trusted US media platforms were finessed to Russia’s advantage.

The reason it is important is because it bears many similarities to Russia’s 2016 activities to try to influence the US election. 

Radio Sputnik rides on the credibility of American hosts such as Tomm Hartmann. His daily talk show is simulcast of Sputnik. Hartmann and former progressive talk host Ed Schultz both appear on RT – Russia Today, the TV sister of Sputnik.

Radio Sputnik is essentially “fake news light” – reporting that has a grain of truth that is spun on purpose. Many people laughed at the absurd Facebook posts the Russians sent during the election. But, a lot of people believed it. The same is probably true of news items distributed via Sputnik.

Sputnik crowed about its new DC media partner in their press statement [link]:

“Radio Sputnik is growing: you can now listen to Radio Sputnik tell the untold on both AM and FM radio in the Washington, DC, area. Radio Sputnik has expanded to 1390 AM, in addition to its current FM 105.5 home.

“[Radio Sputnik] programming includes shows such as By Any Means Necessary with Eugene Puryear and Sean Blackmon, a show that spotlights young voices in progressive social movements such as Black Lives Matter; Loud & Clear with Brian Becker and John Kiriakou;  and Fault Lines with Nixon and Stranahan.

“Now, Radio Sputnik is expanding to the AM airwaves as well. AM radio has a wider range than FM, meaning that more viewers will be exposed to alternative perspectives on current events that you won't hear anywhere else. Radio Sputnik is trying to be true to its motto: ‘Telling the untold,’ covering topics that are often blacklisted by mainstream publications.”

No comments:

Post a Comment